Before Holy Cross Parish
Coal was discovered by Charles Harper at Helensburgh, then known as Camp Creek, in 1884. He was a prominent figure in the life of the town and school. According to the author, William Bayley, Charles Harper named the village in 1886 either in honour of a close relative, or more probably in memory of his place of birth, Helensburgh in Scotland. The name Helensburgh was made official in 1887.
Prior to 1886, the boundaries of the Wollongong Mission – and the subsequent St Francis Xavier Parish, Wollongong – were not always clearly defined but gradually changed to meet the new and expanding settlements to the north and south. In the early 1880s, the northern-most settlements in the Wollongong Parish included Otford, Camp Creek (now Helensburgh) and 26 Mile Camp (Cawley).
The Archbishop of the Sydney Diocese, Cardinal Patrick Moran, was anxious to meet the needs of people in the expanding settlements and towns to the north of Wollongong. Consequently, the Bulli Parish under the patronage of St Joseph was established in 1886. The Cardinal Archbishop appointed Dean M. Flanagan as pastoral authority for a growing parish area that included the entire coastal strip from Corrimal to the northern outskirts of the newly named town of Helensburgh.
In an old ledger of the Bulli Parish on 13 April 1893 the opening of the Church of Holy Cross at Helensburgh was recorded. Construction took place in two stages, the first commencing in 1890. It is on record that the church cost approximately £150. By 1896, a Catholic school was operating in the Church.