The beginning of the Catholic Church in the Dandenong's began as a response to the needs of scattered Irish Catholic families. From earliest times the mountain area was part of St James' Mission, Elsternwick, originally known as Brighton Mission. In 1883 it was separated from the Brighton Mission as a constituent part of the new parish of St Mary's, Dandenong.
When the first church was built in 1890, Ferntree Gully was a scattered settlement, having only four years earlier been proclaimed a township. The site, which was situated on Main Road, (Burwood Highway) next to where Broome's Garage now stands, was a gift from a parishioner, John Buckley.
Ferntree Gully became a separate parish in 1911.
Belgrave Parish was established in the late 1959 and Rev. Kennelly was appointed first parish priest but the parish of St. John's still had a lot of pioneering work to do as the population had grown so. It was still responsible for Boronia and Bayswater and carried on until these places were made parishes in their own right.
(This information is an extract from "50th Celebration Booklet"- of the parish)