AND THE BEGINNING OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS (1935)
This land is under the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Colonial times, in 1823, a grant of
At that time, the main building on the land was the old farmhouse, which has since been demolished.
The grounds were more or less as they are now. There was and is a small creek flowing through the south-western part of the property that over the years has been dammed for agricultural purposes. Since 1930, an extensive tree-planting program has provided a wonderful habitat for birds around the dams. Over a hundred different species have been sighted here at “Maryfields”.
The Rudd family were agriculturists and the Franciscan friars continued this tradition since the first community began here in 1934. In 1935 the foundation stone for the Franciscan Novitiate was laid. Many hundreds of young men began their Franciscan life here. The friars worked the land, planted trees, and tended gardens on the property and assisted the Catholic life of many people in nearby parishes.
From 1936 to 1988, the friars hosted the Stations of the Cross every Good Friday.
The Stations of the Cross
The idea of these Stations came from two groups: one a group of Catholic laymen led by Dr Harold Norrie; the other, the Franciscan friars at “Maryfields”, particularly Fr Bernard Nolan OFM.
Norrie had seen outdoor Stations of the Cross in
At the same time, Fr Bernard Nolan OFM was seeking a way to counterbalance the tendency in Australian society, to secularize Holy Week. “Maryfields” was discovered by one of Dr Norrie's group on a visit to a Franciscan novice at the newly opened novitiate.
and manufacturers of statuary were consulted about the best material to be used,
and designs were chosen. A set of three-dimensional terracotta stations was
statues where placed on brick pedestals (rendered to look like stones), high
enough to be seen above a crowd. On each
alternate pedestal there is a cast cement plaque of the Paschal Lamb and
another showing a chalice with grapes and wheat. The Paschal Lamb is a symbol of Christ, the
Lamb of God, slain for us. The symbols of grapes and wheat represent the
Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the fruit of his saving death on
The Twelfth Station is situated on a large man-made mound. Beneath it lies a spacious vault, which first was mooted as the friars' burial place, but this idea was later abandoned. There was a Franciscan friars' cemetery located on the other side of the property, near the present cemetery of the Poor Clares. The friars' remains were exhumed in 2001 and transferred to Macquarie Park Cemetery.
Two of the stations suffered damage by vandals. These were restored and all the stations were renovated under the direction of Jacek Luszczyk, a Secular Franciscan and a professional restorer of heritage buildings. Jacek had attended the Stations many time in the past as a participant and volunteered his time to restore them.
The Years of the Stations
Good Friday, 1936, saw the beginning of the Stations at “Maryfields”. On Good Friday 1937, His Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Panico, addressed a crowd of 20,000 and pronounced the Benediction. Every year, except during World War II, thousands of people traveled by special trains, buses and cars from Wollongong, Port Kembla, Corrimal, Bulli and the surrounds of Sydney.
those days, the railway ran from Campbelltown to
Each Good Friday until 1988, crowds of over 10,000 came regularly to attend the Stations of the Cross. Gradually the numbers dwindled owing to several factors: (1) the convenient train service to Maryfields ended in 1963 with the building of the new Narellan Road; (2) finding sufficient space for the hundreds of cars proved a problem; and (3) in 1983, the Franciscan Novitiate moved to Victoria, which meant that the burden of preparing the grounds for the Stations of the Cross and cleaning up after the event fell on the few friars who remained. In 1990, after the Stations had been cancelled for the previous two years because of bad weather, the Stations were no longer held on Good Friday.
In 1999, the Stations of the Cross were listed as part of the Heritage of Campbelltown.
2000, a year of Jubilee in the Catholic Church, the friars of “Maryfields”
Friary, which, together with “
The friars hold the Stations on other occasions at "Maryfields", for instance, on the Sunday closest to 2 November, when they remember deceased friars and nuns, relatives and friends.
Groups are always welcome to arrange their own Way of the Cross at any time of the year. John Therry High School sends three buses on Holy Thursday morning. Hispanic people begin their Way at 10.30 a.m. on Good Friday. Other groups represent the Italians, Tongans, Croatians, Filipinos and Koreans.