1855 – St Thomas church built on Wyndham St, Drysdale. Designed by Mr Richard Dowden, constructed by Simmie & McLachlan.

1856 - St Thomas church, Drysdale, officially opened.

1870 – St Francis Xavier church, Curlewis, contructed.

1873 - St Thomas church, Drysdale, extended and three new stained glass windows were installed, depicting the Crucifixion of Christ.

St Francis Xavier church, Curlewis, officially opened.

1878 – Octagonal belfry added to St Francis Xavier church, Curlewis.

1890 – St Thomas Parish established. Prior to this priests had visited the region from Geelong. The first church at Portarlington was located in Newcombe St, but was demolished in the 1930’s due to deterioration over time.

1919 – Land was purchased from Andrew Calhoun estate on the corner of Fenwick and Harding St’s, Portarlington. Father Conlon then purchased an old building known as “Lloyds Stables” in Queenscliff. This building was dismantled and re-erected as a hall/church complex.

1926 – Fire destroyed the church/hall at Portarlington.

1942 – The parish was again placed under the administration of Geelong and a new church was constructed on the corner of Fenwick and Harding St’s, Portarlington.

1948 – The Catholic Women’s Guild was established within the Parish.

1959 – First ‘Portarlington Carnival’ organized and celebrated to raise funds for the Parish and the needs of the community.

1962 – First Parish thanksgiving program commenced. At this time St Leonards did not have a church and the church at Portarlington was not able to accommodate the number of parishioners who attended Mass.

Mr John Spittle of Torquay offered his services, free of charge, to draw up plans and supervise the construction of a new church for each town (Portarlington and St Leonards). The final cost being £38,000.

1966 – Many items were donated by the parishioners to assist in the completion of the ‘new’ churches at Portarlington and St Leonards, including: the Ciborium, marble Altar, Stations of the Cross, Presiders chair, Baptismal font and a number of wooden statues. An enormous number of people helped raise the money required, the items named above and other equipment required to fit out the church.

On December 25th, Father Kevin Manning (Parish Priest) celebrated the first Mass at the ‘new’ church at Portarlington.

After the church was built the ‘old’ church became the hall for St Patricks, Portarlington. The Catholics Women’s Guild used this hall as their headquarters for many years.

1970? – Fr Ken Bray appointed Parish Priest.

1980 – ‘New’ church building committee convened to oversee the design and construction of Lumen Christi, Kensington Rd, Leopold, to replace the ‘old’ St Francis Xavier church, Curlewis.

Hepburn Bros are appointed by tender to complete the project. The cost of the Lumen Christi was $189,000.

Fr Ken Bray retires and Fr Des Panton appointed Parish Priest.

November 16th, Archbishop Little, Monsignor James Murray, Fr Des Panton (Parish Priest) and 17 other priests from the Deanery celebrate the first Mass at Lumen Christi, Leopold.

1981 – The community of Lumen Christi elects a committee to oversee the running and maintenance of the church and grounds. Sub-committees of liturgy, social and buildings & grounds are also elected to assist the community.

1997 – Parish purchases six acres of land and a parish primary school is founded on the ‘old’ potato paddocks, Peninsula Drive. Mr Chris Malady appointed as Principal.

2009-2010 – A ‘new’ church is constructed at Drysdale. The ‘old’ church (circa 1855) on Wyndham St cannot accommodate the needs of the local parishioners, especially the students of the parish school.

Funds are raised by selling the land and buildings (including Presbytery and church) on Wyndham St, Drysdale. A nursing home (Drysdale Grove) is constructed on the site. The Presbytery and church are retained and used as an office/administration centre and Chapel for the residents and staff.

The ‘new’ church is built on Penisula Drive, Drysdale, next to both St Thomas Primary School and Saint Ignatius College.
Designed by Oaten Stanistreet Achitects, with considerable input from Fr Panton and supervision of the construction process by Mr Chris Malady (Founding Principal of St Thomas Parish Primary School).

2010 - On July 28th, Archbishop Dennis Hart, Father Des Panton (Parish Priest) and thirteen priests from the Deanery celebrated the first Mass at the ‘new’ church at Drysdale.

2012 – Fr Des Panton celebrates his Golden Jubilee and retires after 32 years of service as Parish Priest for St Thomas’ Drysdale.

Fr James Puppady is appointed Administrator (August), after relocating from his work in the mission of Andhrapradesh (India).

2013 - Fr James Puppady appointed Parish Priest.

2016 – Lumen Christi refurbishment of Sanctuary completed, official blessing by Bishop Mark Edwards (December).


Information sourced and/or supplied generously by Kiaros Magazine, Melbourne Catholic Magazine, Kath Nash & Ray Brown.