The Congregation first arrived in Australia in 1929, when five priests and two brothers came from Canada and the United States to take over the historic St Francis’ Church from the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
In the early 1950s, after St Francis’ Church had been successfully transformed into a shrine of perpetual adoration, the Congregation moved to create a similar eucharistic shrine in the heart of Sydney.
A large property owned by the Amalgamated Furnishing Company at Haymarket was purchased in 1952 and redeveloped to create a monastery and a small city chapel, which was known as the Church of the Blessed Sacrament when it was opened by Cardinal Norman Gilroy on 30 August 1953.
Thirteen men (three priests and ten brothers) formed the foundation community: Frs Rosario Morin (superior), Henri Lachance (assistant-superior) and Charles Charest (consultor); and Brs Francis’, Eymard, Stephen, Benedict, William, John Vianney, Bernard, Kevin, Leonard and Lawrence.
Perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament commenced at the outset, despite the relatively low number of men in the religious community.
Within a year or two, nine masses were being celebrated on Sundays, four masses on weekdays, and at least five separate devotions were regularly offered in the church. The priests also conducted a busy ministry of confessions, counselling and chaplaincies.
The rapid progress of the Haymarket community prompted the Blessed Sacrament Congregation to begin building a larger church and monastery on the site in the early 1960s. The monastery was completed in April 1963. A strikingly modern church, designed by architect Terence Daly, was opened on 17 March 1964.
The new church was the first church in the world to be named after St Peter Julian Eymard, who was canonised in 1962 when construction was under way.
In July 2008 the church and monastery were closed for a major refurbishment. Randall Lindstrom of PMDL Architecture & Design Pty. Ltd. was commissioned to design and manage the building project. The newly renovated church was opened to the public on Saturday, 28 March 2009.
Office-workers, shoppers, students, tourists and the local Chinese community were among the diverse groups of people who regularly patronised the unusual church, which fitted comfortably into its commercial environment but has always stood for other values.
St Peter Julian’s Church has grown to be one of Sydney’s best-known and most-loved churches, a place of prayer and peace in the middle of a busy city, where all who pass its doors each day are welcome.