Establishment of the Church at Fynnland

Mrs Ethel Winkworth provided some notes on the establishment of the church at Fynnland. (the full text can be found in the appendix)

In 1927 when the Winkworth’s came to the Bluff they lived at Wentworth. There was a small settlement of about 100 people. Not having any knowledge of the Catholic Mission they attended mass either at the cathedral or at Greyville. It was not until Mrs Winkworth noticed Fr. Jenn passing by on horseback did she learn about the mission.

In October 1929 they moved to Fynnlands. It was only in about 1931 that she found out that there was a Sunday school class held at the Gladys Mount Hall (Now known as the Fynnland Scout Hall) of which all children of all religions attended. She informed the priest of this, and he requested she separate the Catholic children. She started a catechism class on her front lawn on a Saturday afternoon.

In 1931 a priest would come from the city twice a month and say mass in the home of Mrs Pringles.  This went on for two years until they moved to the Gladys Mount Hall. There was a congregation of 8 adults and several children.

Father Senechal came over from Clairwood and would take the catechism class on a Saturday Afternoon. In 1938 Sisters Brendan and Francis Paul took over this class. There were now about 30 children. About the same time Fr. Wiest arived at Fynnlands. He would say mass at Merebank, Fynnlands and Clairwood. On some occasions he would arrive at 08.30 instead of 07.30 due to his motor cycle breaking down.

Father Wiest would come over on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to instruct the children in preparation for First Communion. In 1939, 32 children made their first communion and had breakfast at the “Eldorado Tea Gardens” (since demolished – now the vacant piece of ground near Fynnland Station).

The day before the first communion two priests came out to hear Confessions, and much to their discomfort, one was forced to hear confession in a poky and drab annex to the hall, the other in his car, which was parked under a tree outside, owing to the fact the hall was closed.

In 1942 Father Jenn took over, as the people now had to be served from the mission due to the shortage of priests (all French priests were in the Army from 1939 onwards due to the war). Most of the Children started to stay away, as they could not understand his French accent.

In 1948 Bishop Hurley came out to Fynnland to say mass, to see the size of the congregation and to discuss buying ground to build a church.  The hall was packed.

In 1949 Father Boyce was sent from town and he remained until Father Coughlan arrived six months later.

In the meantime due to a misunderstanding at the Mary Mount hall, mass was moved to the Moth Hall until the new church was built.

In 1951 the first mass was said in the Church of St. Joseph and St. Brendan, Fynnlands.

The building of the church at Fynnlands was made possible through the instigation of Sr. Brendan, a Holy Family Sister, who was a teacher at St. Joseph’s Convent situated at Convent Lane in Durban. Sr. Brendan taught catechism at Fynnlands.  One day whilst visiting a retired Catholic Businessman, Mr Joseph Tremoulet, who enquired of Sister Brendan what he could do with his money, as he had no living relatives to leave it to. Sister Brendan suggested that he consider leaving his money to build a church badly needed at Fynnlands. Thus the new church at Fynnlands received the name St. Joseph and St. Brendan.

In 1965 the hall at the Fynnland church was built. The congregation continued to grow.


Message from Cardinal Napier   |    Message from Fr Stuart Bate OMI   |    Forward: Professor Joy Brain   |   Introduction   |   A history of the St Francis Mission   |    Establishment of the Church at Fynnland   |    The Church at Wentworth    |     Centralisation of St Francis Xavier and Building of the New Church    |    The Building of the Parish Hall   |    The Building of the New Presbytery    |    The Building of the Wall of Remembrance    |     The Architectural meaning of the New Church   |    Your Church in Rhyme by Fr Andy Slowey    |    The Human Contribution to the Growth of the Parish    |    Groups and Organisations that have contributed to the Parish    |     Current Groups within the Parish    |     Local Vocations    |     Awards and Recognition    |     An Armchair tour of the Parish    |    The Shrine to Our Lady of Natal    |    Landholdings of the Catholic Church on the Bluff    |     A Portrait of the Life and Times of St Francis Xavier    |     Picture Gallery    |     Timeline of incidents of the Bluff Parish