St Mary's, Leppington
The Church's property at Leppington of almost 10 acres is not about to be developed. However, the very possession of such a sizable asset means that the Catholic Church is well resourced for its many apostolates in this area for the twenty-first century.
As indicated in the Parish History St Mary's Leppington was established in 1962. Up until that time, many first generation migrants had settled in Leppington as well as in many of the surrounding suburbs within in the Wollongong Diocese and beyond.
Residents came from Malta, Croatia, China, Italy,…… and, typically, earned their livelihood from market-gardening on five-acre properties. A very large percentage of residents were Catholic who, generally, had a strong commitment to the faith.
Mrs Lily Tomasovic and her husband had a 10-acre property on the corner of Ingleburn Road and Dickson Streets. They had lived at other addresses in the area before eventually settling on this property in which they earned their living. They both possessed a strong work ethic and a frugal lifestyle.
When widowed, Lily remained on the property and continued to support herself. In all, Lily lived in the house of 191 Ingleburn from 1948 to 2006, a period of some 58 years. In her declining years, Lily was cared for deeply and lovingly by her nephew Ivan and her niece, Maria.
The parochial district of St Mary's Leppington began to take shape in the 1960s when Mr and Mrs Tomasovic donated almost half their land to Camden parish so that a church could be built. The church was constructed and opened for Mass in 1972 by Bishop Paul McCabe. It has served Catholics of the area extra well as a place of worship and fellowship.
Shortly before entering Camden aged care complex in 2006, Lily donated the remaining part of her property to Camden parish so that the church would have possession of an ideal site for a school, church and presbytery whenever required during the twenty-first century.
Those who knew Lily will remember her as a formidable lady with a good mind. In donating the balance of her property, she stipulated that the land belonged to Camden parish but only while Leppington was included. If and when Leppington becomes a parish, her wishes were for the new parish to have canonical title to the land.
Lily, however, will be overwhelmingly remembered not as a business woman, but as a lady who was deeply devoted to her faith, to her local community and to her beloved priests.
St Mary's church is now shared by the Maronite community, an arrangement that has prevailed for over 10 years. The Maronite community have their own parish - St Rafqa's - and aspire to one day building their own church. The present sharing arrangements have not been without complications but have been manageable nonetheless.
In terms of the future, the Planning Authority of New South Wales has identified Leppington as a possible major regional retail and business centre to be supported by extensive residential construction. Policies are developing accordingly.
Notwithstanding financial constraints, infrastructure projects are already planned for rail into the area and for the upgrade of Camden Valley Way. Ingleburn Road is expected to one day become "sub-arterial" with two lanes in each direction, and application for the sub-division of any five-acre property would now not be approved so easily.
However, because the residential development of Oran Park is just beginning, and because the land at Badgarys Creek - formerly reserved for the aviation industry - may also be eventually dedicated to housing and industry, intensive urban development in Leppington would seem to be at least 25 years away.
Long-term outcomes are hard to predict because the costs of time and finance are so very great, and environmental considerations are invariably so detailed and complex.