On 12 April 1845, Rev Fathers, Dubruel and Rocher, arrived in Sydney after a voyage from France which lasted over four months.
Archbishop Polding gave his consent to the establishment of a House of the Marist Fathers in the Sydney area. In 1847 Father Rocher purchased a house from the ‘Salter Family’ in Salter Street, Hunters Hill (now Gladesville) and then added two more grants of land which then became the home of the French Mission. The original building occupied by the Marist Fathers was known as The Priory, on the gable end of which was located a magnificent sundial. However, unfortunately, the part of the original building carrying this painting was demolished many years ago and this valuable relic lost.
In 1853 the State Government took over the bulk of the land associated with the Priory and the Mission for hospital purposes (Gladesville Mental Hospital) in exchange for 18 acres of land on the northern side of Tarban Creek. Father Rocher purchased another 15 acres and this is the area or site now known as Villa Maria on part of which stands the Villa Maria Church, the Presbytery and other associated buildings.
Originally known as Tarban Village, this area developed into and has remained the centre of Roman Catholic spiritual and physical life in the Municipality.
In more recent years a substantial portion of this area, situated between Mary Street and De Milhau Road on the southern side of Gladesville Road and still owned by the Church, was sold and developed for housing purposes. The two new roads opened in the subdivision were named Rocher Avenue and Joly Parade in memory of two prominent members of the original group of Marist Fathers.