The establishment of St Margaret Mary’s Parish, Merrylands, on 17 November 1946 was the beginning of a rich tapestry of community driven service and support.
Terry Dickie, a parishioner since 1963, is overwhelmed by the generosity shown by generations of people who have become “the backbone of the Church”.
“We have never had a problem getting people to do things for this parish. Everybody gets involved and it’s such a wonderful thing to see,” Terry said.
“There are generations of faith-filled people who have provided remarkable service and we have a strong youth presence at Merrylands through our youth group, Pauline S.W.A.T.
“The youth group is made up of dedicated young people who are the leading light for our fundraising initiatives, and the weekday Masses are well patronised by those who, in their retirement, continue to serve on committees and through groups like St Vincent de Paul.”
St Margaret Mary’s has had five Parish Priests over its 70-year history. Portraits of four of them are displayed on the left wall as you enter the church.
The portraits of Fr Luigi Tosi, Fr John Kerrisk, Fr Rod Bray and Fr Albert Wasniowski hang on the wall as an acknowledgement of the years they devoted to the parish.
Today, the parish is guided by the Parish Priest, Fr Janusz Pawlicha OSPPE, and Assistant Priest Fr Peter James Strohmayer OSPPE, who are continuing the pastoral care of the Order of St Paul the First Hermit (known as the Pauline Fathers).
“The Pauline Fathers are brilliant. You couldn’t have wished for better priests. They get up and go, and they are very friendly and care about the community,” Terry said.
“When Fr Janusz came to Merrylands, he decided to have a morning tea after every 10.30am Sunday Mass to gather people together so they could get to know each other.
“They had a special morning tea earlier this year to bless the new roof that was fully funded by parishioners. It really showed how appreciative Fr Janusz was for the donations.”
From the 1950s onwards, immigration sped up the natural development that was occurring at St Margaret Mary’s and that has directed the great multicultural community present today.
The annual Food Festival is a celebration of all the different nationalities that make up the parish community, where different cultures come together and share their traditional dishes.
“Masses here are mostly fully packed and there is a good mix of people from different backgrounds,” Terry explained.
Terry and his wife, Norma, have been dedicated members of the parish community for more than 50 years, and in that time, they “have always felt welcomed and appreciated”.
Terry has been organising the counting roster for more than 10 years and supports the Finance Committee, while Norma is involved in the St Vincent de Paul parish conference.
“It was only natural to want to give back. It just seemed like the thing to do,” Terry said.
When Terry and Norma arrived in Merrylands they felt immediately embraced by the parish.
“They adopted us without any qualms. They just opened their doors to us,” Terry explained.
“That meant a lot to us. They’re a friendly mob and they took us under their wing. After about 19 years of retirement, I still visit two or three days a week and Norma visits almost every day to help out.”
The Pauline Fathers have been, for more than 630 years, renowned Custodians of the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, Poland. On 23 June, Fr Janusz celebrated the 32nd anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.