Published: 31 July 2019
A stately building that was built by the Parish of Rochester (Victoria, Australia) for Augustinian priests serving in the Parish. It reached its hundredth anniversary in July 2017, but the friars departed in October 1994 and the building now houses the local parish priest.
Fr Ashley Caldow PP invited visiting Augustinians, other guests and parishioners to tour the building during the weekend of 20-30th July, and commemorated the building’s centenary in the Sunday Mass at 10.30 am. At a social gathering a celebratory cake was cut by Marie Phelan, who was the housekeeper when the Augustinians departed Rochester seventeen years ago.
The building – now called the Presbytery – has been well maintained throughout its history. It that it still reflects its original architectural plans, the building as described in the Rochester Express newspaper a century ago is still accurate today:
New R.C. Presbytery.
The excavations for the new presbytery in connection with St. Joseph’s R.C. Church are now finished, and the work of construction will commence next week. The foundations will be of concrete reinforced with steel, and in the main building will be 2½ ft. wide, with a depth of one foot, though of smaller dimensions in the servants’ quarters at the rear, which are of one storey. The main building will be of two storeys of Bendigo bricks. There are no bricks now manufactured in Rochester. The work will be pushed on and it is anticipated that the edifice will be completed by the end of May.
The ground floor will be at an elevation of over a foot above the highest known flood level. Any moderate flood invaded the old presbytery. There will be a balcony, resting on brick piers, on the front as well as the east and west sides of the building.
When this contract is completed there will be in the R.C. ground one of the finest groups of ecclesiastical buildings to be found in any provincial town of the State, and the buildings altogether will have cost about £17,000. The architect for the new presbytery is Mr A.A. Fritsch; the contractor, Mr A. Meyers (with Mr W. Hurley as foreman) and the clerk of works, Mr D. Forbes.
The previous four parish priests of Rochester were Fr Joseph Walsh OSA (1983-1987), Fr Peter Tangey OSA (1987-1994), Fr Bob Burtonclay (1994-2002), and Fr Peter Austin (2002-2016). The present pastor, Fr Ashley Caldow, assumed office in January 2017, and is also the pastor of the adjacent Parish of Elmore.