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, Children's Liturgy, Youth Group, Rosary, Choir, Parish representation with the Trustees of Catholic Healthcare, Mother’s Prayer Group and STA Ladies Fellowship Group.


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.




Deborah Breytenbach


Deborah Breytenbach


Maria de Leon

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 Parish supports approximately 10 Special Religious Educators (SRE’s) or Catechists who teach or assist in teaching the Catholic Religion each week at our local State Primary Schools (K – Yr 6) and local State High Schools (Yr 7).

Classes are between 30-40 minutes, once a week either on a Wednesday or Thursday.  Teaching Manuals that contain all lessons for the year are supplied to each Catechist along with the appropriate training.

Please contact the Pastoral Office if you are interested in becoming a Catechist or would like further 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


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. 


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.

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.


We have a beautiful group of musicians who look after our music at each of our weekend Masses.  These groups are rostered on throughout the 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 selects 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 each of the Sacraments are based with each child in mind.

Baptism is the first step of Initiation into the Christian family where Jesus Christ resides in the heart of the community. In our tradition we have always accepted children as members of the family of Jesus. We have been guided by the Gospel where Jesus says to “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them” (Mk:10).

It is in the family where the children first learn about God. At Baptism, parents are taking the first steps in their commitment to bring up their children in the practice of the faith.

The parents are supported in this responsibility by the wider, Christian community including the Church’s representatives, namely, the Godparents. As the children grow, they are invited to be further initiated into the Community of Jesus by preparing for and celebrating the Sacrament of forgiveness - Reconciliation (Confession), followed sometime later, by two more steps: the Sacraments of Initiation i.e. First Communion and Confirmation.

Confirmation completes Baptism, by which in the laying on of hands and the anointing with Chrism Oil, which first happened at Baptism, we are confirmed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded of our participation in the ministry and mission of Jesus and strengthened to follow Jesus more closely. Children in Year 6 or older, who have not yet received Confirmation, and have received Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, are invited to participate in this Sacrament.

The Parish Based Sacramental program provides a way that both the community and parent responsibility can continue to support children in their faith journey.  Parents/carers, attend two parent evenings for each Sacrament.  At these meetings, the parents/carers are given an adult perspective of the meanings of the Sacraments, as well as guidance in passing on the faith and knowledge to their children. This child friendly, faith formation is done in ways that the children will understand and be well engaged. 

A large part of the preparation involves small family group meetings, which are usually held weekly, for four weeks.  As this time commitment can be difficult in our busy world, families are encouraged to prioritise the dates provided.  However, should such full participation not be possible, it is advised to postpone enrolment to the following year. In this case, consultation with the Sacramental Co-Ordinator is strongly recommended.

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. 


The St Thomas Aquinas Ladies Fellowship, previously known as 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 of the vulnerable members of our society.

The STA Ladies Fellowship supports the vocation of Christian marriage and family life, promotes and supports vocations to the Priestly and Religious life and financially assists the chosen Diocesan Charity of the Year.

The STA Ladies Fellowship meets on the 3rd Friday of the month after the 9.30am Mass at the Pastoral Centre.  All women of the Parish are warmly invited to join our very friendly group for coffee, tea and a chat.

St Vincent de Paul Conference

In 2023 the Springwood St Vincent de Paul Conference celebrates 85 years of support to the people of Springwood and surrounding villages.  While we are able to assist people through major disaster events our main work has been to support people through difficult and challenging times in their lives.  Sometimes that support is only needed for a short time until people are able to get their situation sorted however some people benefit by having us journey with them for many months and sometimes for a much longer period of time. 

Our members meet people for support at the Catholic Care office in Macquarie Rd, Springwood, (down the little walkway next to Blooms the Chemist), every Thursday between 10am and 12noon, we are also available in the small office in the Parish Pastoral centre from 10am to 12noon on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.

If anyone would like to discuss their situation and find out how we can help you can ring our call centre 1800 606 742 or simply drop in at either office at the advertised times. If there is need, we also can visit people in their homes. Confidentiality in all matters discussed is assured.

For Family Assistance Contact 1800 606 724


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

    Parish Priest 2011-2023

  • Oct 25, 2023


    Current Parish Administrator