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History

St-Agatha---pic 200Feastday: February 5

St. Agatha died in defense of her purity, in Catania, Sicily, where she was born. After Quintanus, the governor of Sicily, tried in vain to force her to consent to sin, she was imprisoned for a month with an evil woman. He then turned from sensuality to cruelty and had her breasts cut off; but that night Agatha was healed by St. Peter. She was then rolled over sharp stones and burning coals, and finally taken to prison where she died while praying. Her name appears in the Roman Canon.

Prior to European settlement, the Cranbourne area was known as mar-ne-bek by the Boonwurrung people. The name mar-ne-bek means excellent country. The first Europeans arrived via Tasmania in 1836 with the area opening up to settlers in the 1860s.

History First Building 200Why was our parish dedicated to the Sicilian martyr, Agatha? There does not appear to be a definitive answer to this question, but if one reflects on the history of the Church in Victoria and Australia, it is possible to see several influences at work.

Cranbourne, along with many other parts of the current Diocese of Sale, was originally part of the Brighton Mission. It was quite extensive, covering all of the territory south of the Yarra, form Emerald Hill (South Yarra) to the Mornington Peninsula, and the large area east of Port Phillip as far as the Strzelecki Ranges. The priests that were assigned to minister to the people in these areas were quite heroic: travelling great distances by horseback over rough, often uninhabitable country, as well as facing loneliness and dangers, which seem by today’s standards to be almost intolerable. By their sheer presence in these areas they nurtured the faith of the early settlers and promoted the development of Catholicism in the area.

History 1929 Church 200Sunday January 20th 1929 was an important day for the Cranbourne community. It was the opening of the new brick church to replace the old wooden structure that served the parish so well for the last 70 years. It was opened by His Grace Archbishop Mannix who was paying his first visit to Cranbourne.

History New Church 1981 200St Agatha’s in Cranbourne officially became an independent parish in 1973. Fr Joe O’Hagan was the official first parish priest but was then succeeded by Fr George Todd in 1974. In 1976 the St Agatha’s school opened with initial classes being held in the Cranbourne Public Hall, the Presbyterian Church Hall and the double garage of the Presbytery whilst waiting for the new school to be finished. The arrival of the Sisters of Mercy helped establish and administer the School.