Parish History


Alstonville Catholic ChurchAlthough Alstonville was not designated as a separate parish until 1981, its Catholic history goes back to 1887, when the first Church was blessed and opened by Bishop Doyle, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Grafton. (The Diocese was transferred to Lismore in 1900.)

Alstonville was added to the Ballina parish in 1903, the Ballina parish having been established in 1890.

The new church in Alstonville also served as the first school when the Sisters of St Joseph arrived in 1919.

In 1953, Monsignor O’Rourke, then parish priest of Ballina, called tenders for the erection of a new brick church in Alstonville, to replace the wooden structure that had served the community since 1887. This church of St Lawrence O’Toole was later dismantled and moved to Lennox Head.

Bishop Farrelly opened the new church of Our Lady of the Rosary on 22 August 1954.

Following rapid growth on the Plateau, Alstonville was made a separate parish in 1981, with Fr Darcy McCarthy appointed first Parish Priest. Fr McCarthy and the parish became widely known for Fr. Mac’s Heavenly Puddings.

Fr McCarthy died in 1991 and Fr Frank Mulcahy became parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Alstonville.

Fr Max Gow was appointed Parish Priest in August 2012 following Fr Frank Mulchay’s retirement.

The Alstonville Parish was almagamted with the Wardell Parish in August 2013.


The first church at Wardell, dedicated to St Patrick, was opened by Father Doyle in 1879, on the Sunday after St Patrick’s Day. Until 1902, priests based in Lismore travelled to Wardell to celebrate Masses and Sacramental Rites.

In 1902, Wardell was made a separate parish, and included Broadwater, Rous, Riley’s Hill, Dungarubba and Pimlico. The first priest in charge was Father McDonnell, who built the presbytery in 1904.

Father Battle, who succeeded Father McDonnell, instigated the building of the new brick church where Mass is celebrated today.  The foundation stone was laid in 1910 and blessed and opened by Bishop Carroll in 1911. The church celebrated its centenary in 2010.

From 1992 Ballina based priest Father Richard Foley and then from 2004, Father Michael Nilon, took on Administrator roles for the parish.

Wardell and Alstonville became a combined parish in 2013, and our parish priest is Father Max Gow, who was appointed in 2012.