European settlement in this area began in the 1790s less than ten years after the first fleet arrived at Sydney Cove. In 1844 land on Parramatta Road was granted for a church and school to be built to meet the needs of a growing Catholic community.
The foundation stone for the first church was blessed on 8th June 1845 and so for more than 165 years a Catholic community has been gathering on this site.
St Mary’s became a parish in 1870 and Fr Callaghan McCarthy was appointed the first parish priest and a residence or presbytery was built facing Burton Street.
The early community purchased more land and in 1874 Archbishop Polding blessed and opened the second church that faced Broughton Street. The present church, opened in 1929, is the third church on the site.
In the 1950s the 1874 church was demolished and a girl’s intermediate school was built on its footprint. When that school building was demolished to make way for the current Villa building, the footings of the church were uncovered and a time capsule found in the foundations.
There has been a school on this site since the early 1850s and in 1883 the Sisters of Charity travelled each day from Ashfield to teach in the school until a convent was built for them in the 1890s.
When Fr McCarthy died on 1st November 1894 from injuries he received in a train crash, the parish community was already well established.
The present St Mary’s Villa Hostel and Nursing Home stands on the site of the second church, the presbytery and the convent.
In the early 1980s the parish community, led by Fr Bill Delaney, began planning for a residential aged care facility. St Mary’s Villa Hostel and Nursing Home was opened in 1985 at 38 Burton St.
The vision and commitment that led the parish community to build the Villa has been maintained by many others over years.
By 2005 it became apparent that the building at 38 Burton St was not able to cater for the changing needs of an aged care facility. A decision was made to build a new aged care building adjacent to the church at its present address of 56 Burton St.
The planning, design and construction took several years, but finally in August 2010, the St Mary’s Villa community moved into its new home. The new building provides low and high care accommodation in four houses over three levels.
In choosing the names for the four houses the parish wished to recognize the contributions of those who have gone before us. It is therefore appropriate that the house for the hostel residents on the second level is known as Delaney, after Fr Bill Delaney, the founder of St Mary’s Villa.
To recall the long association the Sisters of Charity have had with the parish and school, the high care house on the ground floor is called Caritas, reflecting the motto of the Sisters – Caritas Christi – the love of Christ.
The 1st floor has two houses, one called Eora, to acknowledge the peoples of the Eora nation. The secure dementia unit of 13 beds is called McCarthy after Callaghan McCarthy, the founding parish priest of St Mary’s Concord.
St Mary’s Parish is a living faith community that has been growing and changing on this site for over 160 years. It will continue to change in the years to come. St Mary’s Villa is first and foremost a work of St Mary’s Parish, a living faith community within the Archdiocese of Sydney. St Mary’s Villa stands alongside St Mary’s Church, and with St Mary’s School, is an important part of the parish community.