The Church of Saint Patrick in Queen Street, Singleton owes it foundation to the Irish Priest John Rigney who on the 23rd.July 1848 opened subscriptions for `Erecting a New Church and Priests Cottage on the Catholic Church land at Singleton ‘1 The new church was to replace the wooden structure of Saint Augustine which had served the Catholic population of Singleton and the surrounding area from 1845.
However with true Catholic pragmatism the accommodation for the Priests took preference and it was not until the 20th. Feb. 1850 that the Maitland Mercury was able to report of plans for the new church.2 A further eight years was to pass before the then Parish priest James Hanley engaged the Sydney architect William Munro to design the new church.
The reasons for the long delay of eight years between Fr. Rigney appeal for funds and the engagement of the architect is not known. Freeland suggests that the discovery of gold by Hargraves in 1851 near Bathurst caused the construction of buildings in the colony to come to a standstill as tradespersons responded to the search for gold.3 Whether this was the case for St. Patrick’s is open to conjecture. It is known that were serious floods in Singleton in 1857 and possibly the concerns of the parishioners were more pragmatic. What prompted the final impetus towards a start for the work conceivably due to the completion of the All Saints Church of England designed by Edmund Blacket but more likely by the arrival of a new parish priest, Father James Hanley in 1857.
In any case on Thursday 31 March 1859 Archbishop Polding of Sydney laid the foundation stone for new church and within ten month the Archbishop was to return to officially open and consecrate the new church on the 12th.Feb. 1860. The final construction was however , somewhat less than Munro design, with the nave only being built.
In 1875 a gallery was added during the ministry of Father Fontaine whilst in 1881 the church was extended by the addition of a chancel or sanctuary, a sacristy and an oratory for the use of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1894 to accommodate the growing nunnery population the seating capacity of the oratory was extended, a southern entrance added and a large circular stained glass window portraying the Virgin and Child was installed. The work was supervised by Frank Menkins.
Finally in 1920-21 the two western towers were added to the church under direction of Monsignor Peter Meagher as a memorial to those Catholics of the parish who had died in World War 1
The racial composition of the parishioners was a mixture of Irish, German and English if the memorials within the Church are representative of the population. I think so given the earlier official policy to banish the troublesome Irish to the Maitland area and the ensuing concentration of Irish settlers in the Hunter Valley.4 This notion, in the case of the Germans, is further supported by the research of W.Parkes whose work argues of `the substantial and cohesive’ German community in the Hunter valley in the 19th century. In the case of the German-Irish he also suggests that intermarriage between the two nationalities was not uncommon given the commonality of Catholicism.5
Memorials-inside the church
Statute of St.Vincent De Paul with inscription
`In Memory of Vincent Miner,
An ardent member of
St Vincent De Paul Society.
Died 8th. Dec.1930.’
Northern Wall -West to East
A marble wall memorial inscribed
`In Memory of Right Rev.,Monsieur Peter Meagher D.D. V.C.
Parish Priest of Singleton for 31 years.
Died July 25th.1924. Aged 70 years
Sweet Jesus Have Mercy On His Soul.
Erected Browne Sculpture.’
A marble wall tablet inscribed
`Erected by Her Mother
In Loving Memory
Annie (Dance) Doolhan
.Died 7th Feb 1901.
Aged 30 years .
Vault in the floor of the church marked on the northern side by a wall plaque erected by Doctor John Kavanagh that states
`Of Your Charity
Pray For The Soul Of
Rev. James Kelly
Died Feb 11th 1912.
This Tablet Has Been Erected
By the Catholics Of Singleton Parish
A Token Of Affection And Esteem’
Wall Plaque Inscribed
`Gloria In Excellis Deo.
Of Your Charity
Pray For The Souls
John Cullen Browne
Who died July 19th 1861.
Aged 32 years.
Isabella Rosalie Brown
Who Died In March 31st 1863.
May They Rest In Peace.
This Tablet is Erected as a tribute of Affection
by their parents Mr and Mrs Browne’
Bronze Wall Plaque Inscribed
`!862-1982. On the 30th April 1882 Bishop James Murray Officially welcomed the Redemptorists to Singleton their first Home in Australia
.On the 19th April 1982 the Redemptorists returned on a Centenary pilgrimage and presented this plaque as a token of thanks to the people of Singleton.
Most Rev. Leo Morris Clark D.D. Bishop Of Maitland, Monsignor Gerard Patrick Flatley, Parish Priest Of Singleton, Very Rev.Laurance McCarthy C.s.s.R,Provincial Of The Redemptorists in Australia’
The Stained Glass Lead Light Windows.
Western wall of the Church from south to north
i. `Erected In Memory Of Philip Junger. Died 8th March 1911′.
ii. `Erected In Memory Of Elizabeth Junger. Died 8th.June 1912.’
iii. `Erected In Memory Of Denis Grant. Died 30th.Oct.1907’7
iv. `Erected In Memory Of Francis Holz. Died 10th Dec.1914’8
Northern Wall from west to east:
i. `Erected In Memory Of Rev. P. Murphy Died 31st May 1907 ‘
ii. `Erected In Memory Of Patrick Joseph McNamara Died 4th Dec 1917’.9
iii. `Erected In Memory Of Daniel Alphonsus Doulahan Died 8th Nov 1913′
iv. `Erected In Memory Of Lucy Sheridan Died 6th May 1915′
v. `Erected In Memory Of Elizabeth Holz Died 4th Sept 1890 and Philip Holz Died 19th Feb 1893′
vi. `In Memoriam John Keenahan O.B. Sept 3rd 1895′ – this window is of different design as to the others in lighter toning and colours.10
Southern Wall from east to west:
Inscriptions i. `In Memory Of John Flyn O.B. August 10th 1895′
ii .`Erected In Memory Of Mary Gallagher Died 8th Jan 1893 and James Gallagher Died 25th July 1917′.11
iii. `Erected In Memory Of Edward McManus Died 27th Sept 1915 and Anne McManus Died 12th June 1918’12
iv. `Erected In Memory Of William Miner Died 28th March 1920′
v.`Erected In Memory Of Alphonous Cahill Killed in Action France 12th October 1917′
vi.`Erected In Memory Of Sebastian Holz Died 23rd May 1907′
`Erected By The Elliot Family In Memory of the deceased members of the Family’
The Communion rails are made of white and grey Rockhampton marble and no longer are used as such. They are inscribed:
`Pray for the souls of the undermentioned parishioners who fell in the war 1914-18.Erected by the Congregation
Cyril Bird, Arthur Bowden, Michael H. Cantwell, Sid Campion, John Doohan, Bert W. Doohan, Charles F De Witt, John F.Garaty, Edward Kendall, E.J.Kelly, Abbey C. Marshall, Robert J. McNulty, James J. McCannon, John P. Ryan, Walter J Russell, Alex Sattler, John Swadling, William Wand.’
The Baptismal font
The marble font is inscribed –
`In Memory Of James Kavanagah of Co.Leix,Ireland
Died Lambton Dec.18th 1960
And His Wife Alice of Co.Leix, Ireland
Died at Mater Misocardiae Hospital Waratah on the 1.11.22.
Sweet Jesus Have Mercy On Their Souls’
The Holy Water Font
The holy water font at the entrance to the church is inscribed `Pray For H.C.Burgess R.I.P’.
The Monument outside the Western End of the Church was built over the grave of Fr.Murphy who died unexpectedly at the age of 35 years. It stands about five meters high and is built of Ravensfield stone. It now contains three inscriptions-
Western Face- inscribed on Kilkenny marble-
`Reverend Bernard Murphy,Dies 28 th Sept.1863,Aged 35 Years,
Requiescat In Pace’.
Northern Face-Marble Tablet with picture of Chalice and Host, the Host inscribed with the letters I.H.S.
` Of Your Charity Pray For the Repose of the Soul of the Very Rev.Patrick McCormack V.P.Singleton.
Died 6 th. Jany.1951 Aged 83 Years.
Requiescat In Pace’
Southern Face- again marble Tablet with picture of Chalice and Host, the Host inscribed with the letters I.H.S.
`The Very Rev.Michael Foran,Parish Priest
.Died Sept 24 th 1893.Aged 47 years.R.I.P.
This tablet has been erected by the A.H.C.Guild as a token of Love and Respect ’13
The memorial is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and also contains within the fence a grave inscribed-
`Pray For Rev.Fr.Thomas Purcell,Parish Priest of Singleton,1951-1967.
Born Ireland 1909.Ordained Kilkenny 1936.
Died Albany W.A.,Dec 20th.1978.
May He Rest in Peace’
1 Parish Register, St.Patrick’s Church, Singleton quoted in Sternbeck, The Catholic Church in Singleton ,Broadmeadow,1981,p.27.
2 Maitland Mercury,20th.Feb.,1850,quoted in Sternbeck,Ibid., p.29.
3 J.M. Freeland, Architecture in Australia,Ringwood,1985,p.111.
4 P.O’Farrell,Letters From Irish Australia,1825- 1929,Sydney,1984,p.17.
P.O’Farrell,The Irish in Australia,Kensington,1987.p.86.
5 W.S.Parkes,`German Immigration to the Hunter Valley in the Mid-19th Century’,in E.Guilford (ed.), Journal Of Hunter Valley History,Vol.2,No.1,Newcastle,1986,pp.1,6.
Of interest also as to the history of the immigrant as distinct from the history of immigration see also G.Nadel,`Letters from German Immigrants in New South Wales’in Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society,Vol.,39,Part 5.1953,pp.253-266.
6 John Brown/e was the father of John Cullen and was a magistrate and prominent citizen. He was a generous benefactor of the Church and donated two acres of land for the cemetery and St.Patricks.See S.P.R.No.118.
7 Re Dennis Grant see Singleton Pioneer register No.308.
Francis Holtz was born in Germany,28.2.1848,arrived New South Wales 31.3.1852 on the `San Franciso’,married Catherine Hoffman,occupation farmer,resided Maison Dieu. There are a number of memorials to the Holz family,refer to the Singleton Pioneer Register (S.P.R.).
9 Re McNamara see S.P.R. No.411 and 577.
10 John Keennahan was a Irish farmer who resided at `Butterstream’.See S.P.R. No.492.
11 Mary Gallagher see S.P.R. No 751 for brief mention.
12 See S.P.R.No.573 for brief mention of Edward.
13 A.H.C-the Australian Hibernian Catholic Guild.