Saint Senan’s Church

St Senan’s doors open for the first time in 5 years!

On Sunday 10th September Father Senan Ward realised his long time ambition of conducting a mass at the only Church in Australia named after his patron Saint. It turned into a fantastic community weekend.

Image: Eugene McFarlane
Image: Greg Norris 10/9/23 using a DJI Mavic Air drone

About Father Senan Ward:


Fr Senan Ward OSA was born in Dublin, Ireland in December, 1945. After completing High School at the Augustinian College in Dungarvan, County Waterford (St Augustine’s College he entered the Augustinian Novitiate and professed religious vows on 16th September, 1964. Studies then followed in Ireland and Rome. Senan studied for a BA degree at University College, Dublin (1966-1969) followed by theological studies at the Gregorian University in Rome (1969-1972) obtaining a STB degree. Senan studied for a STL degree at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Sant’ Anslemo in Rome, 1972-1974. Ordained in March, 1973, Fr Senan arrived in Australia in late 1974 and his ministry has taken place all that time – teaching and later chaplaincy at St Augustine’s College , Brookvale (where he is ministering at present), parish ministry and for many years Catholic AIDS ministry in Melbourne and Parramatta. Senan came to learn that the only church in Australia dedicated to Saint Senan is at Yerranderie and hence his desire to visit there and celebrate Mass in the church.

How St Senan’s got it’s name:

In the early 1900’s Father Considine was the local Burragorang Pastor and he was the driving force behind the construction of the Church.
The Considine name originates in County Clare in Ireland and here is a newspaper article which confirms that Fr. Considine came from Killrush in County Clare.
Killrush is the modern name for Corcu Baiscind where St Senan was born and lived from 488 to 544.

A bit of history from Fr. Terrance Herbert

Our thanks goes to Father Terence Herbert MSC of the Sacred Heart Monastery in Kensington NSW who was involved with St Senan’s Church for nearly 30 years in the late 1900’s and early 2000’s. He advised us that “It was so good to hear that Fr Senan Ward OSA celebrated Mass at St Senans on 10 Sept 2023“.

St Senan’s Church was solemnly Blessed by Archbishop Kelly at 10AM Mass Passion Sunday 2 April 1911. The mining ceased at Yerranderie a couple of years later, and St Senans last Mass was in 1913 (Archives, St Mary’s Cathedral) when Yerranderie commenced it’s decline towards becoming a “Ghost Town”.

The Church was disused until about 1965 or 66 when Fr Bryan Stranagan MSC pioneered Wilderness activities as an educational supplement at Chevalier College Bowral, after painstaking liaison work with Sydney Water Board to access Yerranderie and use the Church.

As an extension to the Catholic Bushwalking Club’s (CBC) local activities there was an annual Easter Sunday Mass at St Senans for most years from about late 1980’s. Fr Terry Herbert MSC, a member of the CBC provided an Easter Sunday Mass at St Senan’s for 27 years between 1990 and 2012. The evening before the Sunday Mass, he attended “Kiaramba” the CBC’s property an hour north of Yerranderie in the Central Blue Mountains to lead the Easter Vigil and Mass for about 50 members of the CBC. On the Sunday morning Fr. Terry was then transported to Yerranderie for the mass at St Senan’s. During those years, Terry was on Staff at Chevalier College, Bowral in the Wollongong Diocese. St Senans is also in the same Diocese. Between about 1990 and early 2000’s the Burragorang Heritage Group, with some descendants from earlier Burragorang families, also worked in liaison with Sydney Water to restore St Senans to “as new” condition, including pews, an Altar, Mass Vessels and Vestments, etc. They provided the labour and dollars, and a created a virtually new St Senan’s.

From the Lithgow Mercury – Friday December 30th 1910.

Yerranderie was on Sunday week the destination of many of our residents, the occasion being the opening of the new Catholic Church. Mass was celebrated by Rev. Father Considine, a choir and orchestra under the conductorship of Mr M Rowan assisting. The church is a fine structure of brick with galvanised iron roof, and is situated on one of the choicest allotments of the new township. Mr. W. Peters, of Camden, was the contractor, at a tender of £450. The building was erected under the supervision of Messrs. Buchanan and Kay, of Sydney, and the Catholics of Yerranderie have reason to feel proud of the church. In the course of his remarks, Father Considine thanked sincerely those who worked assiduously for this end, and specially did he thank those who had generously assisted towards furnishing the church.

Prior to leaving here for vacation, Mr. W. J. Kenna, teacher of our local public school, was presented by the pupils with a pair of gold sleeve links. Rev. Father Considine occupied the chair, and the presentation was made by Master E. Quig. Mr. Kenna suitably responded, and thanked the pupils for their attention to studies and their implicit obedience. He also referred to the assistance and encouragement he had received from the parents. It is generally believed that the new school will be erected during the early months of 1911. The people of this quarter look forward with confidence to its success. The general wish is that the coming year will open the gates of a new and lasting friendship among those whom the old year has seen engaged in strife and dissension. (So may it be. — Ed)

This Lithgow Mercury Article from December 2010 raises some interesting matters. The “strife and dissension” would have referred to the miners’ strikes in 1909 and 1910. It will be interesting to find out how these strikes effected Yerranderie. The other point of interest is that this was in the Lithgow newspaper saying that “Yerranderie was on Sunday week the destination of many of our residents”. From Lithgow? Back then Lithgow to Yerranderie was a mighty trip. Maybe the Mercury had a circulation into areas much closer to Yerranderie. Watch this space…. we will be doing more research.

From the Catholic Press – 16th March 1911.

BURRAGORANG. On Passion Sunday, April 2, his Grace Coadjutor-Archbishop Kelly has arranged to solemnly bless and open the new Church of St Senan, at Yerranderie and the now presbytery at Burragorang. His Grace will arrive at Yerranderie on Saturday afternoon and will preside at 10 o’clock Mass on Sunday, after which the blessing of the church, will take place. Returning to Burragorang In the afternoon, he will bless the new presbytery [at Burragorang] at 4.30 p.m.

Here is a link to some newspaper articles from the time St Senan’s was blessed

And here’s some more recent history from the 1980’s and 1990’s.