Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
THE O'KELLY YEARS
St Declan's became a parish in March 1916 with the arrival of Fr Michael O'Kelly. Before providing housing for himself and for the sisters, Fr O'Kelly doubled the size of the church-school.
In November 1916, Fr O'Kelly purchased a mansion named "Fernland", which was converted into the presbytery. In December, land adjacent to Fernland was purchased.
After World War I, the churches of Sutherland and Cronulla formed a combined parish and, despite the reduced parish size, a larger church for St Declan's was required. In 1927, work began on the construction of a new church to replace the one in Victoria Avenue.
The new church was officially opened and blessed on 12th August 1928 by the Archbishop of Sydney, Michael Kelly.
In 1932, after all his efforts for the parish, the parish held a number of functions to finance a trip for Fr O'Kelly to Ireland. He left leaving Fr L. Boyle as administrator.
In late 1935, "Rostrov", a large house situated opposite the church was purchased for the local sisters, who had grown in numbers as the need for educators increased.
After the convent was payed for, Fr O'Kelly promised to start work on the desperately needed school. On 23rd July, 1939 Archbishop N.T. Gilroy blessed the foundation stone of the new Convent School (which is still part of St Declan's Primary school today).
After the completion of the Convent school, it was decided that an entertainment hall was to be constructed. The hall was to be named "Fernland Hall" after the state on which the mansion stood. The old school in Victoria Avenue was pulled down and the land sold.
Fr O'Kelly died on 31st May 1941 after suffering from an illness for some time. Fr O'Kelly had spent the last 25 years building up the parish, attaining remarkable progress.
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