Roman Catholic

The Catholic community on the Island has always been small but strong. There were once two Churches - in Kingscote and Parndana. The latter is now a private home. Ecumenism is as strong today as it always was. The Catholic community at Penneshaw has a long-standing, amicable, sharing arrangement with the Anglican Church. Recently the Parndana community were invited to hold their services at the Parndana Uniting Church.

Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), Friday 7 February 1941, page 12

A Visiting Priest at Kangaroo Island.

—On Saturday, June 13, the Rev. J. Murphy, of West Terrace, left Port Adelaide per the s.s. James Comrie for Kangaroo Island to administer to the needs of the Catholic residents. The passage across the gulf was very rough and the journey was longer than usual, owing to the steamer calling at Edithburg. A short stay was then made at Hog Bay, Queenscliffe being reached at 11 p.m. Father Murphy found only one Catholic at Queenscliffe—Miss M. A. Ryan, the local school mistress—to whom he administered the sacraments and said Mass. On Monday he left for Hog Bay, but there were no Catholics there, and he proceeded on to Cape Willoughby, which meant a drive of 18 miles on a bad road. The journey, however, was relieved by an entertaining driver, who persisted in addressing the reverend visitor as "Mr. Murphy," and explained that although he belonged to the Church of Christ " there are good and bad of all sorts." At Willoughby Father Murphy found one Catholic family—Mrs. Franke, the wife of the lighthouse keeper and four children. He stayed there until the following Sunday, during which he said Mass and administered confession and communion. He returned to Adelaide on Monday, June 22. Father Murphy says that the Catholic population is extremely scattered, but speaks highly of the courtesy extended to him by non Catholics on the island.

Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), Friday 3 July 1896, page 7

Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), Friday 24 October 1952, page 2

An excellent historic treatise is available: "Aspects of the Catholic Presence on Kangaroo Island 1900-1992", compiled by Pam Derham and Beryl Williams. Collation and printing courtesy of Marion Oates. Selections reproduced here with kind permission of the Adelaide Catholic Archives. See the attached .pdf document at the bottom of this page.

The Early Years

Until 1954 there was no parish of Kangaroo Island, and the area was administered as part of the parish of Willunga. As far as can be ascertained, there were few Catholics on the Island before the advent of soldier settlers at Parndana.

Early visiting priests:

1908 - 1942: (approximately yearly visits) Fr. Denney, Fr. McManus, Fr. Brady.

1943 : Fr. Eviston, Willunga Parish

1943 : Archbishop Becvich visit to Kangaroo Island

1945 : Fr. Eddy Smythe, Willunga Parish; Fr Leonard, Fr. Damien - Passionists

1945-1954 : visits were approximately four to six times a year.

Resident priests

1954-1960 : First resident priest - Fr. Robin Sutherland

1960-1965 : Fr. Terence Wall

1965-1969 : Fr. Brian Schmidt

1969-1972 : Fr. George Nader

1972-1980 : Fr. Patrick Kelly

1980-1982 : Fr. Joe Caruana

1982-1985 : Fr. Michael McInerney

1985-1987 : Fr. Tom Gleeson

1987-1991 : Fr. Peter Monopoli moved into new Kingscote presbytery in Feb 1989

1991 - : Fr. Peter Dunn

Parish of Kangaroo Island

At the end of 1954 the number of Catholics on the Island had grown to about 240, and the needs of the congregation called for full time priest. In December 1954, the parish of Kangaroo Island was formed, and its first Parish Priest, Fr. Robin Sutherland was appointed. The interaction between Fr. Sutherland and his Parishioners led to almost incredible results. Within four years the new parish, in spite its scattered population, had two churches and a Presbytery.

The first Mass in the new Parish of Kangaroo Island was celebrated in the home of Mr. Kinnane in Franklin Street, Kingscote on Friday December 24th 1954. Midnight Mass was celebrated in the old Kingscote Town Hall, and Christmas Day Mass at the Parndana Recreation Hall. This hall was used for Mass at Parndana every Sunday until the dedication of the Church of the Blessed Trinity on 21st April 1959 by Archbishop Becvich . In Kingscote the old Town Hall was used until the building of the new Town Hall commenced, at which point the services were transferred to the old Public School in Franklin Street.

Up until this time, Fr. Sutherland had been dependent for accommodation on the hospitality of various Parishioners. Mr & Mrs T Carty, Mr & Mrs R Kinnane, Mr & Mrs Manser and Dave and Monica Buick. When a house, adjacent to the block of land on which the church was to be built came up for sale, it was purchased as a Presbytery and occupied in June 1955. On July 3rd, Mass was offered for the first time in the Presbytery and continued regularly until the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was built. The church first came into use with the celebration of Christmas Mass in 1955, although the building was not completed until May 1956.


The Rev. Father McNamara, of Willunga, recently paid a visit to Kangaroo Island, and said Mass at the postmaster's residence, Kingscote. He found that there were three Catholic families in the vicinity of Kingscote, and one at Hog Bay. Three Catholic families who formerly resided on the island have left.

THE RELIGIOUS WORLD. (1912, December 21). The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954), p. 4.

Burial Register

The Adelaide Catholic Archives advises that the Willunga Parish burial register, from pre-1900 to 1950 does not hold any burial registrations for Kangaroo Island during that period.