Our Lady of Victories Parish, Sockburn

D 1222 Sockburn 2

The Sockburn area was served by St Mary’s Parish in Manchester St until the establishment in 1924 of a new parish in Riccarton under Fr Tom Hanrahan. A small wooden church was built on Peer St near Villa Maria College which served as the Parish Church until 1929 when St Teresa’s opened on Puriri St.

When the Upper Riccarton parish of Our Lady of Victories opened in 1949 (formed on 20 May 1946 as a result of the rapid growth of the western suburbs) this wooden church was rededicated and moved to Main South Road, where it served as the Parish Church until 1968.

First church at Sockburn

Fr Edward Joyce (later Bishop), assistant priest at Riccarton was appointed the first Parish Priest of Our Lady of Victories.  The first Mass in the newly located parish church was celebrated on Sunday, 27 November 1949 by Bishop Lyons. He congratulated Fr Joyce and the parishioners on their pioneering work in making provision for the growing numbers in the area.

In 1956 the parish primary school opened, under the Sisters of Mercy with 79 pupils. In 1961 the Christian Brothers opened St Thomas of Canterbury College on adjoining land. With a range of schools available, this brought an influx of Catholic families in to the area resulting in the need for a larger church to cope with the growing number of parishioners. In the late 1960s plans to develop a parish based in Avonhead did not eventuate, and so the Sockburn parish remained as was.

A distinctive new church, designed by Charles Thomas, was opened and blessed by Bishop Brian Ashby on 10 March 1968, and the original wooden church was to become the parish hall known as ‘The Bishop Joyce Centre’.

The Parish thrived over the years, based on a vibrant faith community. Various groups and organizations worked hard to ensure the Parish was supported practically and spiritually, like the Catholic Women’s League, the Leisure Group, the Society of St Vincent DePaul, Passionist Family Group Movement, Youth Group and many more.

interior of Our Lady of Victories c.2006

Parish Priests of Our Lady of Victories Parish:

Fr Edward Joyce (Later Bishop) (1949)
Fr John McKay (1950)
Fr John O’Sullivan (1953 -1963 (Overseas 1957))
Fr G Kane (Administrator 6 months) (1957)
Fr Ambrose Timon (Acting PP) (1963)
Fr Joe Leonard (1964)
Fr G Kane (Admin) (1964)
Fr Ron O’Gorman (Overseas 1969) (1965 – 1974 )
Fr Clark (Admin 3 months) (1969)
Fr Jim Nicholas (1975 – 1982)
Fr Matt Duggan (1983 – 1987)
Fr Miles O’Malley (1988 – 1995)
Fr Simon Eccleton (Acting PP) (1995 – 1996)
Mons Gerry O’Connor (1996-1998)
Fr Kevin Burns (1999 –
Fr John O’Connor (2003 – 2012)
Fr Michael Pui (2012 – current)

Further Reading:

Sockburn Pathways: The development of a spiritual and social community history. Our Lady of Victories Parish. 50th Jubilee Publication, 27 November 1999


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Our Lady of Victories Parish, Sockburn