History of the Parish

Denis and Martha Ryan, the first Catholic family, came to Tawa Flat – as it used to be called – shortly after 1870.

Constable Denis Ryan was placed in charge of the Porirua District. They had a large family. From time to time the priest would come from Lower Hutt and do a house Mass at their home. Their nearest church was St Joseph's in Pauatahanui (built 1872) and later Sts Peter & Paul Johnsonville.

The small Sacred Heart Church, now at Bishop Viard College, was opened in 1903. When Tawa Flat, Elsdon, Titahi Bay, and Porirua were part of the Plimmerton Parish, Fr Jeremiah McGrath saw the need for a proper Mass Centre in Tawa. Plans were made and George Boderick was going to build it with volunteer labour. At almost the same time Fr Leo Connor was appointed Parish Priest for Tawa (1951). That was the official birth of the Tawa Parish.

Initially Fr Connor continued to use the Sacred Heart Church in Porirua, but by the end of 1951 the new Church Hall in Rewa Tce was opened. The parish grew, there was something of a building boom in Tawa. The Rewa Tce Hall was soon overcrowded and Fr Connor was looking for a decent size new church.

It was 1966 when the present Church of Our Lady of Fatima was officially opened by Monsignor Owen Snedden.

Fr Leo Connor remained in charge for the next 9 years.He celebrated the 40th anniversary of his ordination, 29 Oct 1974, two days after the opening of the Leo Connor Hall on the grounds of St Francis Xavier school (built in 1960). Fr Connor was succeeded by Fr David Bourke in 1975.

Fr Bill Corcoran was PP from 1980 to 1983 and his ministry was taken over by Fr Fergus Reeves. He in turn was followed by the Assumptionist Fathers in 1993 with Fr Chris Penders as PP and Frs Luke van der Pal and John van der Kaa as Assistant Priests.

Fr Luke died on his way back to the Netherlands (2005) while Fr Paul O'Connor who had joined the Tawa community some time earlier, became an active member of the Parish Team. When Fr Chris turned 75 he handed the administration over to Fr John (2007).

All this and plenty more is to be found in “One in Mind and Heart” (published 2007). There are still copies available at the Church office. ($20 incl. packing and postage).

Fr Rico Angelo dela Torre

Fr Rico comes from the Archdiocese of Caceres, which is about 350km south of Manila, Philippines. He entered the diocesan preparatory seminary in June 1994, together with 41 other young boys (13 were eventually ordained priests). He learned about liturgy, basic Christian doctrine, prayers, Church history, played sports, hiked, etc.,...

Jane Lee

For many parishioners Jane is the parish’s first point of contact. She is available to welcome visitors, answer queries, record bookings, receive material for the parish weekly newsletter, answer the telephone, coordinate the Sunday Liturgy, and many other jobs.