The foundation stone of St. Peter's Church, Epping (the Sister Parish) was laid in 1895 and became a parish in 1910. As the area expanded, in particular, the Lalor, Thomastown section of this parish, young families became dissatisfied with having to travel the distance on unmade roads to St.Peter's. To overcome this, a Lalor Catholic Resident's Association was formed. This group hoped to raise funds and one day to build a church and school in Lalor. In 1951, the Resident's Association was given permission to use a Recreation Hut, called "The Stockade" in Lalor for Masses. By 1955 a suitable site was purchased for general use, but Masses and other main celebrations were still held at St. Peters. As the post war migrants came and settled in Epping, the area needed additional facilities and so during the 60's a new church/school was built in Lalor which was later officially opened by Bishop Fox. These buildings consisted of a modest sanctuary and sacristy (near where the existing tuck-shop of St. Luke's school is now located) together with 3 classrooms and a nuns room. During 1963 a further site was purchased for a, proposed presbytery and more school rooms.
In 1964 an area incorporating Lalor Thomastown and part of Bundoora was separated from Epping forming a new parish with Fr. A Dunlop as parish priest. The following year 1965, Bundoora became a separate parish and St Luke's Thomastown, with Fr. K. Sweeney as parish priest came into its own right.
Bricks and mortar were the foundations - the symbol of a new life, a new growth and a new beginning not only of St Luke's but the hopes and aspirations of its new settlers. St, Luke's Primary School was built some years before the new parish was created. The new school was expanded to include extra classrooms, facilities and amenities to alleviate the pressure created by the settlers. The surrounding environment was beautified with trees and shrubs. Paths were laid and large areas were asphalted providing a welcoming environment as well as eliminating the muddy, dusty condition.
The1970's, saw the beginning of a new era. The population of Lalor & Thomastown at this time consisted of 40% Italian speaking, 30% Australian speaking, 30% other languages, with Maltese being the largest of these languages. The ethnic mix of the settlers was still growing. This booming migrant population required a different of approach to the way of living that had existed. It required a range of new strategies to cope with the existing and also to allow for the new needs of the migrants who were eager to take up the challenge of settling into the Australian way of life. To cater to this challenge the Scalabrini Fathers, with 3 of their priests Fathers Remigio Birollo Dante Orsi, and John Mello were asked to replace the traditional Anglo diocesan priests.
The Scalabrini Congregation was established in Italy in 1887 to assist in bringing Christ into the lives of migrants. Being migrants themselves, their mission is to share the same life and the very experience that migrants generally encounter thus, they are in a position to understand varying cultures and to work towards cultural integration. Their concern is for people on the move. They seek the cooperation of migrants in the overall life of the parish and gradually to reflect the multicultural make-up in the organisational and liturgical aspects of parish life, thus providing a genuine response to Vatican 2 with its emphasis on local churches and communities.
Pastoral work in the parish was supported by the introduction and eventual residence of the Pastorelle Sisters. The Sisters collaborated with the parish priests in their work through catechesis with children, adult education in the faith, liturgy animation and home visitation. Their work embraced not only the families of children who were in the catholic schools, but all the families of the Parish. Their apostolate as parish assistants was relatively new.
Jesus said "Let the little children come to me, do not stop them, for it is for such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs" and so for those children who miss out on the experience of God's love in the context of a parish community the MOTOR MISSION was established.
The Pastorelle Sisters took over in 1973 from the Good Samaritan Sisters who, operating from Northcote, were travelling throughout the parishes to instruct catholic children in local government schools and assisting parents in their role as first educators of their children in faith. Eventually a portable room was purchased in1983 as a central office and Religious Instruction was taught to these children using St. Luke's School classrooms. The government ceased supporting this type of instruction in Government schools. Without the capacity to enter government schools the children had to travel to St. Luke's and so the name 'Motor Mission' was born. The term remains today.
To day the parish is a dynamic organisation expanding and adjusting to the ever changing needs of its parishioners. We have been through the difficult years of mainly material achievements, but now we are on the threshold of a remarkable era, in which our Parish community will face its greatest challenge yet, the opportunity to develop a truly outgoing Christian attitude far removed from the simple provision of local bricks and mortar.
People (priests, nuns and faithful), that for years in one way or another have contributed to the material development and to the spiritual growth, have given generously of their time and material resources. We look at them with a sense of gratitude and admiration
Our Parish is a sign of unity and knows no national or cultural boundaries. It is made up of many cultures and nationalities and it has become an organic community of people of the same faith with the same Christian values.
St Luke's - Lalor Parish