The Church Hill parish has been in the care of the Marist Fathers since 1868.
The Marist Fathers were founded in France, gaining approbation by the Holy See in 1836. The founder of the Marist Fathers is Father Jean Claude Colin.
The Marist Fathers congregation is one of a number of Marian congregations that were born in France about that time. In fact, the vision of the early Marist founders was that there be one Marist group made up of men and women, Priests, Brothers and Sisters. Rome did not agree with that vision and subsequently four Marist groups came into being, the Marist Brothers, the Marist Sisters, the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (SMSM) and the Marist Fathers.
Marist Fathers first came to Oceania at the end of 1836. St. Peter Chanel was a member of that group. Marist Fathers first came to Australia in 1843, not primarily to engage in pastoral work, but to set up a supply base for the Oceanian mission.
The first parish priest of St. Patrick’s, Archdeacon John McEncroe, became friendly with the early Marists who had established a house at Hunters Hill and on his deathbed requested that the Parish of St. Patrick’s, Church Hill be entrusted to the Marists. That was in 1868. The Archbishop agreed and the parish has been cared for by the Marists ever since. Father Joseph Monnier was the first Marist parish priest.
Initially, Marists in Australia were members of the Province of Oceania. Later they became attached to the New Zealand province. It was not until 1938 that Australia became an autonomous Marist Fathers’ province.
At that time a Marist seminary was established at Toongabbie in western Sydney.
The website of the Marist Fathers in Australia and Japan can be found here.