Under the responsibility of the Wellington Archdiocese and Bishop Viard, the Christchurch Country Mission was established in 1862 with a church built at New Headford on Shand’s Track in 1871, on land donated by Patrick Henley. A large presbytery that doubled as a school was also built beside the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This Country Parish covered the area outside of the city, up to the Conway River in North Canterbury. Fr Jean Claude Chervier SM was the first parish priest until 1896. From this base separate parishes were established by Fr Chervier, with the remaining area becoming the Lincoln Parish.
Originally part of that Country Mission based at Shand’s Track, the first church was built in Leeston by Fr Chervier SM and opened on 5 December 1869. Attributed to Benjamin Mountfort, the church was dedicated to St John the Evangelist.
The formation of the parish of Darfield dates back to 1888 when Rev J J O’Donnell was appointed the first rector. Prior to this the area, with a strong Catholic community, was included in the Lincoln and Leeston parishes, with Mass celebrated by Fr Chervier SM at the church in Darfield, which was opened, debt-free, on 31 October 1880.
The Catholic Parish of Selwyn was established at Pentecost 2020, amalgamating the former parishes of St Patrick’s, Lincoln; St Joseph’s, Darfield and St John the Evangelist, Leeston.
For further information on the early history of the parish visit the Diocesan Archives parish history page.