On 7 December 1904, Brother Robert South MSC received the keys of Nepean Towers near Wilton, the mansion Sir Thomas Mitchell had built and named Parkhall in 1842. A few days later Bishop Alain de Boismenu MSC of Papua New Guinea said the first Catholic Mass in the beautiful old Anglican chapel built by Dr Jenkins. Fifty years after our foundation in France and twenty after our arrival in Sydney to care for the Pacific missions entrusted to us, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) took possession of this rural property. It would be at various times a training centre for our Australian members through school, novitiate and seminary, a farm, parish centre, and retreat centre and renewal centre.
In 2004 the Towers celebrated over one hundred years of MSC life and the prior history of St Mary’s Towers as Parkhall and Nepean Towers. St Mary’s Towers holds a myriad of memories for a myriad of people. For most Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, it has been their birthplace into the Society, it has been their place of renewal throughout their life and it is also the burial place of most of our members. But it has not been a place just for Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. Many religious, clergy and lay people have been inspired by their time here at St Mary’s Towers and they have gone out to live their lives to help change the world. St Mary’s Towers stands as a great example of a place in which Mission is encouraged so that people might move out to minister to the people of God.
We are thankful for all the works and the blessings of those who over the course of one hundred years have brought us here. We also pray for the future of this place, that it may continue its important role in the world for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and for all who are touched by it.
Many years ago, Blanche Mitchell, the daughter of Sir Thomas Mitchell, wrote that “it was a delightful place and it has the air of sacredness and respect”. Now, in our day, we pray that it will continue to be a place that is a sign of hope, of joy, of hospitality, of true MSC spirit.