The first parish priest was Fr. Peter Ryan and the Solemn Opening of the church by Bishop Peter Amigo took place on Friday 10th November, when he gave an address followed by Benediction. The parishioners were very poor, so collections were low. At one point Fr. Ryan had to ask the Bishop for £30 to pay the local trades people. Fr. Ryan was followed by Fr. George Leidig, who was the parish priest throughout the First World War. Although he had been born in Deptford, he had a German surname, and this caused him problems during the war, when people in the local shops refused to serve him. Parishioners helped him out by providing meals, which he at times gave to beggars who arrived at the door. He organised a men’s and boys club to keep hold of boys leaving school and going to work and appealed for funds in the Tablet for what he called “the poorest mission in South London”. When the Bishop visited in 1919 he found lodgers living the presbytery to help with expenses. During Fr. Leidig’s time the presbytery was moved to its present site at 81 Evelina Road. Fr. Leidig was found dead in the presbytery on All Souls Day 1921, after failing to arrive for the early Mass.
The next priest, Fr. Cornelius O’Donoghue managed to improve the financial situation by having seat rents and was able to build a new church hall costing £200. During his time in the parish the Stations of the Cross were erected in 1927 at a cost of £170. The only information available is that they were carved by a German man and his son in a room over Burns & Oates shop, in Victoria Street.
Fr. Donal O’Brien came to the parish in 1934 and arranged for the rebuilding of the presbytery, as the original house did not even have a bathroom. It was finished in 1937 at a cost of £1900.
On 30th September 1940 a bomb fell on the other side of Evelina Road and the new presbytery was badly damaged while the church lost all its windows. For a time Masses were held in a room above the bar in the public house in Kitto Road. The church was eventually repaired and could be used again, but the presbytery was uninhabitable for the rest of the war with a debt of £1338 still on it. The priest was only able to move back in September 1945, and lived in a house in Drakefell Road until then.
Fr. Hugh Lagan took over the parish in 1958 and set about raising money to build a larger church to accommodate the parishioners. The size of the original church meant that there were six Sunday Masses to get everyone in. On Good Fridays the service was relayed to the hall and crowds of people had to stand in the street who could not get in at all. Fr. Lagan would have liked to completely rebuild but could not get planning permission because of problems over a possible ring road, and was only allowed to put an extension on the original building. During the building work, 1973-1974 Sunday Masses were in St Thomas the Apostle and weekday Masses were in the presbytery. Fr. Lagan retired in 1982 having spent his whole time as a parish priest in Nunhead.
Fr. Anthony Cridland followed Fr. Lagan and during his time changes brought about by the Vatican Council 1962-1965 came into full effect. Activities with local churches were encouraged. In 1989 the church was finally consecrated by Archbishop Michael Bowen and relics of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Philip Howard were placed in the altar.
In 1996 the parish was put in the care of the Sacred Hearts Fathers.
The Parish priests from 1996 to 2010 were Fr. Padrig, Fr. Brian, Fr. Pat, Fr. Eddie and Fr. Fegual.
In 2010 it was announced with much regret that the due to the numbers declining in priests in the Sacred Heart Community that they had to leave the community of St. Thomas.
In May 2010 the parish was put in the care of the Missionaries of St. Paul (MSP).