Monsignor Hennessy

Monsignor Jerome Hennessy was the founder of the parish of St. Mary's, Young.

 

His Life

Monsignor Jerome Hennessy was born on 2nd April, 1856 in County Cork, Ireland and was ordained to the Priesthood on 11th June, 1881. He came to Australia in late 1881, and then was appointed to Young in 1889. It was a large Parish but quite poor with only a small stone church. In 1895 he left for Albury but returned to Young in 1903 (at his own request) where he remained until his death. In 1930 he had the title 'Monsignor" conferred on him and in 1931 he celebrated his Golden Jubilee, this occasion was so significant that the town had a public holiday!

 

His Work

He performed rounds of visitation daily. On his rounds he would call first on the wealthier people of the town collecting fruit, vegetables, meat, clothes etc for distribution to the less fortunate – always returning home empty handed. One incident that relays his generosity is an occasion where he gave a sick woman with a new baby the mattress off his own bed. He was also responsible for bringing the religious orders to Young; the Christian Brothers and the Presentation Sisters, both of whom saw to the education of Catholic children in the district. Hennessy was responsible for numerous building projects in the local area – convents, churches, schools, hospitals, and hospices. By all accounts Hennessy was known for his ability to get the money needed to complete his many building projects and to incur as little debt as possible. He continued on with his work despite failing eyesight and deteriorating health, he celebrated his last public mass on Sunday 28th April 1941. On the Monday he was feeling unwell and went into Mount St. Joseph’s Home, a place he had been responsible for building to care for the aged in the community. Hennessy died there on Wednesday 30th April, 1941.

 

His Legacy

Prime Minister Joseph Lyons paid the following tribute to Hennessy:

I envy Young in the possession of a man like Monsignor Hennessy, and I can tell you that we could do with such a man in the Federal Parliament.  His remarkable energy, foresight, charity and his financial genius stamp him indeed as a very great man”.

The town of Young owes a very great deal to Monsignor Hennessy, many of its buildings were built at his instigation; St Mary's Church, Southern Cross Theatre, and some the buildings that the school uses.

When St Mary's High School was approved to educate Year 11 and 12 students  in 1998, it was unanimously decided to rename the School Hennessy Catholic College.