The Parish of Panania was formed on February 1st, 1952 with the arrival of Fr Patrick Landers to his first appointment as Parish Priest. His instruction from Cardinal Gilroy was to ‘proceed to put the required ecclesiatical buildings in place’.
A weatherboard cottage on the site became the church and then the presbytery in the early years. Fr Landers was warmly welcomed into the community, and continued to serve the parish for 42 years.
St Christopher’s has had only 4 Parish priests, Fr Landers (1952-1994), Fr Colin Mason (1994-2003), Fr Maurice Thompson (2003-2019), Fr Salas Muttathukattil MSFS (2020-present).
The following assistant priests have spent time at the parish: Fr James Duck, Fr Michael Hogan, Fr Robert McNeill, Fr John Derrick, Fr William Stevens, Fr Robert Hayes, Fr John O’Neill, Fr Don Griffin, Fr Brian Conaghan, Fr Stephen Monaghan, Fr Michael Butler (retired priest) and currently Fr Bhaskar
Significant developments in the history of St Christopher’s Parish:
- 1950’s -The first new buildings completed on the St Christopher’s site, a school building and a new presbytery. The Sisters of St Joseph arrived to teach 122 children enrolled in Kinder, 1st and 2nd class. Student numbers grew as families continued to settle in Panania. A two storey building was completed by the school and extensions were made to the existing church site to accommodate larger numbers. Around this time, parishioners developed a Direct Giving Program to help to finance the development of the parish.
- 1960’s – The parish was in ‘full swing’, with many active groups formed, including the CYO (Catholic Youth Organisation), The Children of Mary, The Parents and Friends Society and many others. School and church extensions continued and the new De la Salle Colleges at Revesby and Bankstown, and Mount St Joseph Milperra were welcome additions to the area. Most significantly, the Parish purchased the ‘Panania Star’ theatre and it was converted to become the new St Christopher’s Parish Church in 1967.
- 1970’s – School building continued as the school maintained strong numbers and the Parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a ball at the Bankstown Town Hall. The parish continued to offer a wide variety of ministries and maintained an active involvement in the local community.
- 1980’s – Father Landers celebrated his Golden Jubilee with a large parish function and Mass concelebrated by Cardinal Freeman, Archbishop Clancy, Bishop Cremin and Bishop Robinson. Fr Landers also returned to Ireland to celebrate the occasion with his classmates. Changes to the school occurred in this period, with new classrooms and administration buildings begun.
- 1990’s – Father Landers celebrated his Diamond Jubilee in 1994 and retired soon after that. He remained in the Parish as Pastor Emeritus until 1998, when declining health forced him into full retirement. In 1994, due to a generous bequest from a parishioner, the church underwent a significant renovation, and many parishioners assisted with this, both by supplying trade work and also through volunteering. In this year, the sisters of St Joseph also completed their time at the school. Fr Patrick Landers, first parish priest of St Christopher’s died on March 30th, 2000.