A Brief History of the Parish

On 11 February 1962, the Rt Rev. Hugh Boyle, Catholic Bishop of Johannesburg, blessed a hall that had been constructed by the lay members of the Rivonia Catholic Mission, led by Fr Kelly since 1956, on Church land. The site used for the building was originally bought in the early 20th century by the Church and intended for use as a seminary. The shape of the early half of that century, however, changed those plans. The intention was to use the building for all sorts of religious purposes until a proper church with a permanent constructed altar was built and dedicated.

This never quite happened. Instead, on the 30th anniversary of the blessing of the hall, Bishop Patrick Mvemve, Auxiliary Bishop of Johannesburg, dedicated the building and it became the proper church.

In 1963, Fr Kelly left Rivonia and its hall-church and was succeeded by Fr John O'Donoghue. Four years into his ministry at Rivonia, Fr O'Donoghue would make his lasting impression: in a relatively new departure for the Church, Parish Councils were being mooted, and on 9 May 1967 Rivonia established its first.

austinWhen O'Donoghue left Rivonia, he was replaced by Fr John Braniff OMI, who had previously served as the Catholic Church's chaplain to the armed forces. He was known colloquially as the Colonel (the rank he held) owing to his rather strict manner. A long rule over the parish certainly left his mark. He was then succeeded by another OMI, Fr David Adam, in 1972.

Fr Adam, throughout his career, had established a reputation as a caring, compassionate and concerned man. He was widely read and a gifted photographer. He had also first studied to be a draughtsmen and was generally eager to try anything and everything new and exciting. This firebrand led the parish for over 15 years and brought many welcome changes and improvements.

Between Fr Adam's departure in August 1987 and the arrival of Fr Ivan Bougaardt in December 1987, the parish was serviced by the Rosebank parish. Fr Bougaardt was to have only a brief stay, filling in until a permanent appointment would be made. In March 1988, new incumbent Fr Michael Austin (right) led Mass on Palm Sunday.

Fr Austin through his tenure endeared himself to the parish and was indeed the priest in charge when the permanent altar at Our Lady of Lourdes was consecrated and the old hall became the proper church. The fitting farewell he received in 1997 is testimony to his popularity in the parish.

Fr Graham Rose succeeded Fr Austin, although his appointment took several months to finalise. Fr Rose is a South African priest, having been born in Springs. He oversaw the affairs of Our Lady of Lourdes from (officially) December 1997 to December 2005, at which point he was replaced by our current parish priest, Fr Peter Doherty.

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