At the beginning of the twentieth century, Toowong was part of the Rosalie parish and local Catholics attended mass in the wooden church of St Michael and the Holy Souls in Holland Street. In 1916, the Archbishop of Brisbane invited the Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) to open a parish in Toowong. Over the following century, the Jesuits organized, built and formed the Catholic community of Toowong and Auchenflower.
Fr Richard Murphy sj was the first parish priest who took up residence in Manresa (parish presbytery) on the corner of Holland Street and Kensington Terrace. He was responsible for introducing a local chapter of St Vincent de Paul, founding Alcoholics Anonymous and the Queensland Lawn Tennis Association. He also negotiated the purchase of Auchenflower House in readiness for the arrival of the Carmelite Sisters to Brisbane and he arranged for the construction of the new St Ignatius Church and School on the current site at the corner of Kensington Terrace and Grove Street, Toowong.
For 100 years, the parish was under the pastoral care of the Jesuits, until they withdrew in 2017. Many pages of church history have been written about the life and works of the various Jesuit priests and brothers who served the parish community through their leadership, endeavour and vision. Apart from the buildings and grounds, parish groups and organisations, the greatest gift of the Jesuits to the parish is the charism of Ignatian spirituality which has shaped the way people have found God over the ages.
Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy first arrived in 1902 to take up the role of educators at the local Convent School located in Holland Street, next door to St Michael and the Holy Souls Church. ‘Goldicott’, a private home on Grove Crescent, had been purchased as a residence for the sisters and became Mount St Mary’s Convent. The property owned by the Sisters of Mercy included the land along Grove Street. With the growth in the district and changes to teaching standards, there was demand for a larger school in the area. In 1948, St Ignatius School was opened on land donated by the Sisters. Apart from their contribution as teachers in the school, the Sisters played a key role in the development of the parish music ministry and the production of the banners and altar clothes displayed in the churches and elsewhere in Australia and overseas. The Sisters withdrew from the school in 1983 and left Goldicott in 2017.