History of the Parish



Up and until 1981 Midrand (Halfway House/Olifantsfontein) was served by various priests, typically from neighbouring towns.  Holy Mass was celebrated for about ten families in school classrooms, garages and make-shift shelters.  For years neighbouring Olifantsfontein was served from Bantule by Fr. Frank Brannigan OMI and his Assistant, Fr. Vincent Hill.  Fr. Marino OMI served the new location of Tembisa also from Bantule.  In 1958 Fr. Martin Curran began working in Olifantsfontein and in the new settlement called Tembisa which was being built.  A site was also acquired at Kopanong and a convent was built for the Sisters of Charity from Leribe, Lesotho.  The completion of the convent was supervised by a seminarian, George Daniel, who was assigned to Fr. Curran to gain pastoral experience.  The new convent was blessed by Cardinal Martini, who later became Pope Paul VI.

In 1981 it was decided that a central parish church should be built to serve this fast growing community of Midrand and land was kindly made available in President Park by the Archdiocese.  In September 1985 Fr. Mike Lacey was able to secure a loan of R52, 000.00 from the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Cork, Ireland.  This loan gave the small Catholic community exactly what was needed. Following a tremendous fundraising efforts, sufficient funds were available to begin construction of the new church in 1986.

Frs. Mike Lacey and Tom Duane played a major part in the beginning of the church.  Many people were involved in the construction of the building (under the supervision of Anton Janssen).  Even a waterfinder was enlisted to establish whether there was enough water for the project.

Eventually the building was nearly complete, and Fr. Richard O’Rourke had to find furniture, etc. for the church.  He ingeniously had parishioners purchase a bench, and actually drew up a list of various items needed for the new church.  Donations poured in for the benches (which are still in use today), the tabernacle, the lights, and numerous other items.

The church was finally completed and named “Our Lady of the Sacred Heart” in honour of Our Lady and in tribute to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. It was opened and blessed by His Grace, Archbishop George Daniel, on Tuesday, December 8th 1987, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Archbishop George Daniel and Fr. Richard O’Rourke

(above)Archbishop George Daniel and Fr. Richard O’Rourke

Years later the presbytery and parish center were built with the active participation of the parishioners, donations and loans.  From 1990 onwards the surrounding expanse of open land surrounding the church became Ivory Park, Rabie Ridge, Vorna Valley,  Noordwyk, etc. and home to thousands.  The current parishioners remain grateful to those before us who started our church from very humble beginnings. May they be richly blessed.

Mary Gagiano – Original compilation of the churches history from where this excerpt was taken. Copyright belongs to Mary Gagiano.
Justin Whitehead for putting what you have read, above, together for this page.