Learn more about our vibrant church community, serving the spiritual needs of Springwood for well over a century.

Our parish ministry groups work with the church in reaching the community.

Learn more about our patron saint, St Thomas Aquinas.

Find out about the history of St Thomas Aquinas in Springwood, from our beginnings in 1839.

Our Parish Team oversee the running of St Thomas Aquinas parish.

Learn about our Parish Priests, past and present.


Located in New South Wales, in the lower Blue Mountains within the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, our Parish is home to the many Catholic families who live in the Springwood area. At the heart of St Thomas Aquinas Springwood Parish is a faith community whose foundations date to 1839.

Today, we are active in ministry, pastoral care and outreach within our Parish as well as the wider Mountains community, including through St Vincent De Paul conferences, an Over 50s Group, Children's Liturgy, Youth Group, Rosary, Choir, Parish Playgroup, Parish representation with the Trustees of Catholic Healthcare, Centreing Prayer, Catholic Womens League and Life Ascending.

If you are new to the Springwood area and would like to become a part of our Parish community, we look forward to meeting you at Mass, or please feel free to contact us at any time.


Our Parish Team oversees the running of St Thomas Aquinas parish, including our ministry teams.


Fr Paul Slyney

Assistant Priest

Fr Shinto Francis


Chris Joy and Deborah Breytenbach


Deborah Breytenbach


Chris Joy

Saint Thomas Aquinas OP (Italian: Tommaso d'Aquino, lit. 'Thomas of Aquino'; 1225 - 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He was an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio.

He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism; of which he argued that reason is found in God. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory. Unlike many currents in the Church of the time, Thomas embraced several ideas put forward by Aristotle-whom he called "the Philosopher"-and attempted to synthesise Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity. His best-known works are the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra Gentiles. His commentaries on Scripture and on Aristotle also form an important part of his body of work. Furthermore, Thomas is distinguished for his eucharistic hymns, which form a part of the Church's liturgy.

The Catholic Church honours Thomas Aquinas as a saint and regards him as the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood, and indeed the highest expression of both natural reason and speculative theology. In modern times, under papal directives, the study of his works was long used as a core of the required program of study for those seeking ordination as priests or deacons, as well as for those in religious formation and for other students of the sacred disciplines (philosophy, Catholic theology, church history, liturgy, and canon law).

Thomas Aquinas is considered one of the Catholic Church's greatest theologians and philosophers. Pope Benedict XV declared: "This (Dominican) Order ... acquired new luster when the Church declared the teaching of Thomas to be her own and that Doctor, honored with the special praises of the Pontiffs, the master and patron of Catholic schools." The English philosopher Anthony Kenny considers Thomas to be "one of the dozen greatest philosophers of the western world".

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas)


A brief history of St Thomas Aquinas parish

The history of the Church at Springwood dates back to 1839 when it was part of Penrith Parish under Rev Charles Sumner. Mass was celebrated at Thomas Boland's Springwood Inn and later at their home. The Bolands were at one time the only Catholic family in the area.

In 1907, the resident priest in Springwood, Rev James Sheridan, arranged a boarding school under the control of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The parish was first entrusted to Rev PC Cregan, who had been sent by Cardinal Moran to build St Columba's Seminary.

In 1920, St Thomas primary school opened in the old church, which had been moved to Hawkesbury Road.

A new era began in 1935 with the arrival of resident parish priests, assisted by seminary staff. Rev Daniel Galvin built a presbytery and new school between 1935 and 1946; Rev Thomas Leen erected a retaining wall and Rev Canavan built another school.

Between 1969 and 1977, Rev Leslie Bagot added a second storey to the original school. Rev James O'Meara saw the old seminary become a co-ed Catholic high school in 1979 and in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 2001, four stages of a new primary school were built on parish property.

In 1986, Rev Michael McGloin moved the old parish to the St Columba's site and a retirement community, Aquinas Court, opened on the old site. It was subsequently transferred to Catholic Healthcare in April 2006.


For further information or to get involved in any of our Ministry Groups, please contact the Pastoral Office.


The Ministry of Acolyte is known to exist in the Latin Church as early as the 3rd Century. It takes its name from the Greek word akoloulos meaning 'one who follows' and was used to describe an assistant who served the presiding bishop or priest but lost its way around the 10th Century when these functions were taken over by ordained ministers.

In 1972 Pope Paul VI called for reforms in this area and the Ministry of Acolyte as we know it today was formed. The restoration of the acolyte is a direct effect of the Church's work of renewal in the direction set by the Second Vatican Council and is a ministry of service to the people of God in the Parish.

An acolyte must successfully complete a 12 week training programme and on completion of the course is installed in his ministry by a Bishop.


St Thomas Aquinas, Springwood supports approximately 20 Special Religious Educators (SREs) or Catechists who teach or assist in teaching the Catholic Religion each week at 4 local State Primary Schools (K-Yr 6) and 2 State High Schools (Yr 7).

Classes are between 30-45 minutes, once a week on Tuesday or Wednesday. Teaching Manuals that contain all the lessons for the year are supplied to each Catechist.

Training will need to be undertaken by new Catechists and this is managed by the Parramatta Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD).

Please notify the Pastoral Office if you are interested in becoming a Catechist or would like more information.  


The purpose of this ministry is two-fold: firstly, to allow parents to be able to listen and contemplate the readings of the day; secondly, for the children to listen to the Gospel of the day at a level they can understand, then be shown how to apply this to their daily life.

We do this through discussion as well as activity sheets. The resources we use are from liturgyhelp.com


Our Catholic tradition from 4th Century contains many forms of prayer, some more active than others. Pope Paul VI himself called forth contemplative monks to help the whole church rediscover the contemplative dimension of prayer - known today as prayer of the heart or Centering Prayer. It is a very simple way of prayer for anyone who wants to be with God, to experience his love and presence.

It is a prayer of longing that leads into his presence. Centering prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, 'when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees all that is done in secret will reward you' (Matthew 6:6) and inspired by the writings of John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton.

You are most welcome to attend the Centering Prayer Group which meets every Thursday 7.30pm-8.30pm in the Pastoral Centre.


The Catholic Women's League promotes the spiritual, intellectual and social development of women, uphold the dignity of all women and children by awareness of injustice to the vulnerable members of our society.

They support the vocation of Christian marriage and family life, promote and support vocations to the Priestly and Religious life, financially assist the chosen Diocesan Charity of the Year and provide a forum for the voice of CWL organiasations in NSW.

Our branch of CWL meets on the 3rd Friday of the month after the 9.30am Mass. All women of the Parish are warmly invited to join our very friendly group.


The SETSG is a small charity group originating in this Parish in 1998. We support health and education initiatives in East Timor particularly the projects of the Mary MacKillop Mission in Dili.

Eight meetings are held each year and focus on organising the Annual Trivia night and dinner.

Only through the generous support of the parishioners and the wider Springwood community over the years has the SETSG been able to make a significant difference to people in Timor-Leste. 


Classes began in February 2013. These classes are open to everyone regardless of age or fitness. Each person has a different goal: weight loss, fitness, but regardless, the focus is on exercise at your own pace and comfort.

Come and join the group on Monday's after the 9.30am Mass in the large meeting room of the Pastoral Office.

Enjoy morning tea and a chat afterwards.   


These are the lay people who have the role of distributing the Eucharist at Mass. They assist with the the distribution of Holy Communion when the Priest is physically unable to or if the number present at Mass would cause unnecessary delay.

These ministers are not ordained, may be male or female, and need to be in a state of grace so they also are able to receive the Eucharist.  


We have a dedicated team of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who take Holy Communion to the sick of our Parish.

We visit Endeavour, Buckland and Uniting Care Nursing Homes each Friday and private homes and Springwood Hospital on Sundays. In addition, Father Paul celebrates Mass 5 times a year at each Nursing Home. Ministers are on a roster and are only required once a month.

If you are interested in becoming a Minister or know someone who needs Communion please contact the Pastoral Office.

Family Groups

Family Groups exist to build the community called CHURCH. They are a simple mechanism that brings together parishioners of all ages and family arrangements who can get to know one another so as to live out the call of the Gospel to 'love one another'.

Three family groups are active in the Parish, meeting for low or no cost activities about once every month.

The motto of family groups is 'A Family for All'.

Ministers of the Word

Readings at Mass introduce the theme for that particular Sunday. Readers prepare beforehand so that they are presenting the Scriptures in a clear, confident and correct manner.

Preparation prevents unexpected names like Nebuchadnezzar causing difficulty and reminds us to read more widely to enhance our understanding of God's word.

New readers are always welcome.

Mother's Prayers

Mother's Prayers is a worldwide group in 100 countries which was started by 2 mothers in England in 1995, who felt led by Jesus to start the group.

OurMother's Prayers group meets locally each fortnight and specifically pray for our children - we surrender our children to Jesus and put them in his care. From this has come many blessings worldwide.

It's a very warm and encouraging group of mothers/grandmothers who come together full of love and hope for their children. Groups usually consist of up to 8 ladies - we have a booklet to guide us and keep it simple. 


We have 6 groups that look after the music at our weekend Masses. Five of the groups are rostered throughout each month, each providing music for approximately 2 Masses per month. 

Since the liturgical worship is given a more noble form when celebrated in song, the leaders of each group select music that supports the theme and readings of each Mass.

We would welcome anyone who would like to join the Music Ministry as either singers or instrumentalists. 

Sacramental Program

Preparation for the Sacraments is Parish based and family centered. When a child is presented for Baptism the parents assume the responsibility of bringing the child up in the Faith.

Parents/Carers with the aid of an appropriate programme share the Faith with their children. Small groups are formed and these meet on a weekly basis for 4 weeks to share and discuss the lesson for that week.

In sharing the Faith with our children we deepen our own knowledge and faith. 

STARugs (St Thomas Aquinas Rugs)

A STARug is a handmade rug given to those in our local community who may need something colourful and personal to keep them warm.

Members of our Parish knit and crochet whole rugs or 25cm squares that are sewn into whole rugs. The rugs are distributed to the needy by our local Vinnies conferences and are very much appreciated for their warmth and the care they represent.

During the last 9 years, 269 STARugs have been made.

Donations of wool as well as knitted or crocheted 25cm squares are always needed to enable this Ministry to function. 


These are the friendly people who greet those arriving for Mass with a smile and a simple, 'how are you', while handing on the Bulletin.

Welcoming the congregation personalises and values every person's arrival at St Thomas Aquinas Parish.

There are very few rostered welcomers and anyone who can begin 20 minutes before Mass to greet arrivals would be showing the human face of Christ in our Parish community. 


  • 1935 - Rev Daniel Galvin

  • 1946 - Rev Thomas Leen

  • 1960 - Rev Canavan

  • 1969 - Rev Leslie Bagot

  • 1977 - Rev James O'Meara

  • 1986 - Rev Michael McGloin

  • 1996 - Rev Renato Paras

  • 1999 - Rev Peter Connelly

    Parish Priest - 1999 - 2011
    Pastor Emeritus 2011 - 2013

  • 2011 - Rev Paul Slyney

    Current Parish Priest