The Catholic Church in Australia/The Early Years of Catholicism in Australia

Timeline created by kokomiettanichols
  • Period: to

    Early Settlement

  • Presentation Sisters

    Presentation Sisters
    The Presentation Sisters, officially the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are a religious institute of Roman Catholic women founded in Cork, Ireland, by Venerable Nano Nagle in 1775. The Sisters of the congregation use the postnominal initials P.B.V.M.
  • Mary Reibey

    Mary Reibey
    Mary Reibey is one of the most famous early convict women in the colony of New South Wales. A convicted horsethief, Mary went on to run an extensive importing and mercantile business and there are numerous references to her business dealings, liquor licences, land grants and purchases throughout the State archives. Her faith as a Christian was well respected.
  • Fr James Dixon

    Fr James Dixon
    Irish priest transported to Sydney after taking part in the Irish uprising of 1798. On 15 May 1803 he conducted the first public Roman Catholic mass and marriage in Sydney.
  • St John's Pro Cathedral

    St John's Cathedral is a heritage-listed, Anglican cathedral in Parramatta, City of Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. St John's was given the status of provisional cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney in 1969, and designated a Regional Cathedral in 2011 for the Western Region.
  • The First Public Catholic Mass (Fr James Dixon)

    The First Public Catholic Mass (Fr James Dixon)
    Irish priest transported to Sydney after taking part in the Irish uprising of 1798. On 15 May 1803 he conducted the first public Roman Catholic mass and marriage in Sydney. The Mass was conducted in Port Jackson. The celebration helped welcome Catholic people into Australia.
  • Castle Hill Uprising

    Castle Hill Uprising
    The Castle Hill Uprising was a rebellion attempt made by Irish Convicts in an attempt to gain control over the British rule in New South Wales. It was caused by the oppression and mistreatment of Irish convicts from the colonial authorities. The battle cry of the rebellion was "Death or Liberty!".
  • The Rum Rebellion

    The Rum Rebellion
    In January of 1808 the men and officers of the New South Wales Corp stormed the Government house in act of rebellion against Governor William Bligh. The uprising was heavily involved with the then rum trade that the New South Wales Corp were taking part in, therefore the rebellion was nicknamed after the alcohol and the officer's relationship to it. However, the rebellion had less to do with the rum and was more so involved with the military-elites-government power struggle of the time.
  • The Beginning of Catholic Education

    The Beginning of Catholic Education
    The longest lasting Catholic School in Australia to date founded by Fr John Therry and was directed by George Morley in 1820. In 1836, with the Church Act meant that the Government provided subsidies for clerical salaries and for church construction. Communities that raised a minimum of £300 pounds were subsidised on a 'pound for pound' basis. Land grants were also available.
  • George Morley

    George Morley was the first teacher in Parramatta Marist Old Boys Union.
  • Jeremiah O'Flynn

    Jeremiah O'Flynn
    Jeremiah O'Flynn was a man who helped to publicize the needs of Catholics in New South Wales and who influenced the British government in 1820 to allow the first official Roman Catholic missionaries to be sent to Australia.
  • Fr John Joseph Therry

    Fr John Joseph Therry
    Father John Therry played a major role in the construction of the St. Mary's Cathedral. He was a Catholic priest who was one of the first allowed to minister in the colony, and who influenced Catholic church-building, education and rights surrounding civil issues of Catholics within the colony.
  • Fr Philip Conolly

    Fr Philip Conolly
    Philip Conolly was a Roman Catholic chaplain. He was ordained at Maynooth, and did pastoral duties for five years in the Dublin archdiocese. He answered the call for volunteer missionaries when the British government consented to have Roman Catholic chaplains stationed at Botany Bay and the Derwent.
  • The Establishment of The Catholic Church in Tasmania

    The Catholic Church became established in Tasmania, then Van Diemen's Land, in 1821 with the arrival of Father Phillip Connolly. At the time about 1/3 of the population was Roman Catholic. For most of Tasmania's history the proportion of Catholics to other religions has only been about 1/5.
  • St John's Church

    St Johns Church, is an Anglican church in Launceston, Tasmania and the oldest church in the city having started construction in 1824. Though the church is one of the oldest surviving churches in Australia, it has received numerous extensions and modifications with only the tower and first window pair of the nave being original. St John's Church is located on the corner of St John Street and Elizabeth Street and is one of five churches facing onto Prince's Square.
  • Caroline Chisholm

    After her marriage and after much thought, Caroline became a Catholic in 1831. Her religious faith inspired her work – for example, before commencing her work in Sydney, she committed herself to this task before the altar in St Mary's Cathedral. Caroline Chisholm worked on improving conditions on the ships and arranged for the families of convicts to be transported free to Australia so they could be reunited with their loved ones.
  • Period: to

    Formative Years

  • Society of St Vincent de Paul

    Society of St Vincent de Paul
    The Society of St Vincent de Paul is an international voluntary organization in the Catholic Church, founded in 1844 for the sanctification of its members by personal service of the poor.
  • John Bede Polding

    John Bede Polding
    John Bede Polding, was the first Roman Catholic Bishop (1835) and then was appointed to Archbishop of Sydney, Australia seven years later in 1843.
  • Church Acts

    The Church Act reduced tensions between the competing strands of Christianity present in the colony of New South Wales. The Act established equitable funding for Catholic and Protestant denominations, and removed many of the privileges that the Church of England had enjoyed in the colony to date.
  • William Davis

    William Davis
    William Davis offered land in 1840 for the St Patrick's Church. He made a secret chapel in his house so that the band priest could perform the masses for the Catholic Church. He kept a eucharist in his house that people could secretly pray without being discovered as Catholic. William Davis played a role in keeping Catholicism alive in Australia by providing a sanctuary for Catholics.
  • Sisters of Charity

    Sisters of Charity
    Sisters of Charity, any of numerous Roman Catholic congregations of noncloistered women who are engaged in a wide variety of active works, especially teaching and nursing. They came to Australia in 1838.
  • Congregation of Christian Brothers

    Congregation of Christian Brothers
    The Christian Brothers were a congregation founded in Ireland, 1802 with the purpose of educating poor Catholic boys in the surrounding area. They spread to Sydney Australia in 1843, and ran children's homes.
  • Sisters of Mercy

    Sisters of Mercy
    The Religious Sisters of Mercy are members of a religious institute of Catholic women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, by Catherine McAuley. They travelled to Australia in 1846. As of 2019, the institute has about 6200 sisters worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations.
  • Old St Stephen's Church

    Old St Stephens Church is a heritage-listed Roman Catholic church at 249 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by A W Pugin and built from 1849 to 1850 by Alexander Goold and Andrew Petrie. It is also known as Pugin Chapel.
  • St Mary's Cathedral

    St Mary's Cathedral
    The church was the result of Father John Joseph Therry who had long petitioned for a site of a Catholic Chapel. It is the oldest continuous site of worship in Australia.
  • Gold Rush

    On February 12, 1851, a prospector discovered flecks of gold in a waterhole near Bathurst, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Soon, even more gold was discovered in what would become the neighbouring state of Victoria. This began the Australian Gold Rush, which had a profound impact on the country's national identity.
  • St Francis' Church

    St Francis' Church on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Elizabeth Street, is the oldest Catholic church in Victoria, Australia. The main body of the church is one of very few buildings in central Melbourne which was built before the Victorian gold rush of 1851.
  • The Eureka Stockade

    The Eureka Stockade
    The Eureka Stockade was a rebellion which involved the Ballarat gold miners and the colonial authorities of England. The dispute involved laws which the miners declared as harsh, and unfair terms.
  • Fr Julian Tension-Woods

    Fr Julian Tension-Woods
    Julian Edmund Tenison-Woods, commonly referred to as Father Woods, was a Catholic priest and geologist, active in Australia. With Mary MacKillop, he co-founded the Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart at Penola in 1866.
  • Good Samaritan Sisters

    Good Samaritan Sisters
    The Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, colloquially known as the "Good Sams", is a Roman Catholic congregation of religious women commenced by Bede Polding, OSB, Australia’s first Catholic bishop, in Sydney in 1857. The congregation was the first religious congregation to be founded in Australia.
  • Immigration from Britain to Ireland

    Irish immigrants came to England fleeing poverty and the Great Famine in Ireland. By 1861, 600,000 people, or 3 per cent of the English population, had been born in Ireland. In 1830, the British army was 40 per cent Irish.
  • Establishment of the Sisters of St Joseph

    Establishment of the Sisters of St Joseph
    The Sisters of St Joseph (of the Sacred Heart), were founded in Penola, South Australia, in 1866 by Mary MacKillop and the Rev. Julian Tenison-Woods. They are a woman's religious order, and ran a number of children's home.
  • Sectarian Violence at Duke of Edinburgh Visit

    Sectarian Violence at Duke of Edinburgh Visit
    There was an assassination attempt on Prince Alfred, and rumour has it that there was underlying sectarian violence and that's why Irishman William James O'Farrell tried to shoot and kill the Prince. It was a failed attempt and he was shortly arrested.
  • Period: to

    Growth Years

  • Arrival of the Marist Brothers

    Arrival of the Marist Brothers
    The Marist Brothers arrived in Sydney, Australia in 1872 and established Catholic schools. They provided care, accommodation, and education to all of their pupils, regardless of their situations.
  • Mary Mackillop

    Mary Mackillop
    Mary and 47 sisters were expelled from the Sisters of St Joseph. During this time Mary dressed incognito. She had been ordered not to communicate with any of her sisters, and anyone associated with her was liable to excommunication. After five months, when Bishop Sheil lay dying, he realised his mistake and revoked the excommunication on 23 February 1872. She arrived in Australia in 1875.
  • Cardinal Moran

    Cardinal Moran
    Patrick Francis Moran was the third Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and the first cardinal appointed from Australia.
  • Establishment of Maronite Eparchy

    Establishment of Maronite Eparchy
    In 1584 Pope Gregory XIII founded the Maronite College in Rome, which flourished under Jesuit administration into the 20th century and became a training centre for scholars and leaders. Hardy martial mountaineers, the Maronites valiantly preserved their liberty and folkways. In 1893, the Maronites sent two priests to Australia.
  • Federation

    Australia became a nation on 1 January 1901 when 6 British colonies—New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania—united to form the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • De La Salle Brothers

    De La Salle Brothers
    The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, also known as the Christian Brothers, French Christian Brothers, Lasallian Brothers, or De La Salle Brothers is a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, and now based in Rome, Italy.
  • Archbishop Mannix

    Archbishop Mannix
    Daniel Patrick Mannix was an Irish-born Catholic bishop. Mannix was the Archbishop of Melbourne for 46 years and one of the most influential public figures in 20th-century Australia.
  • St Patrick's Church

    St Patrick's Church is a heritage-listed Roman Catholic church on Grote Street, Adelaide, South Australia. Opened in 1914, St Patrick's was built as a replacement for the original St. Patrick's church that is considered the first Catholic Church in Adelaide. Today the Church is used for services in languages other than English, including Portuguese and Croatian.
  • World War 1

    World War I was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. It was started by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Around 40 million people died from this war.
  • Bob Santamaria

    Bob Santamaria
    Bartholomew Augustine Santamaria was an Australian Roman Catholic anti-Communist political activist and journalist. He was a guiding influence in the founding of the Democratic Labor Party.
  • Conscription Debate

    Conscription was also a debate about the obligations of citizenship. Those supporting conscription argued that military service should not be an individual choice. The supreme duty a citizen owed to their country was to fight for it.
  • The Depression Years

    The Depression, set off by the October 1929 Wall Street stock market crash, hit the New South Wales economy with great severity. Unemployment, already high at 10% in mid 1929, was 21% by mid 1930 and rising, hitting almost 32% in mid-1932.
  • Kathleen Mary Egan

    Kathleen Mary Egan (1890-1977), Dominican Sister and educationist, was born on 16 December 1890 at The Rock, near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Kathleen Egan was a Dominican Sister and educationist with a commitment to improving educational opportunities for children with hearing disabilities. She opened her school in 1931.
  • Cardinal Norman Gilroy

    Cardinal Norman Gilroy
    Sir Norman Thomas Gilroy KBE was an Australian archbishop. He was the first Australian-born cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The Labor Party Split

    In 1955 the Australian Labor Party split for the third time in its history, this time over anti-communist sentiment. The split helped keep Prime Minister Menzies' government in power for another 17 years.
  • Period: to

    Contemporary Society

  • Caritas Begins in Australia

    Caritas began in Australia in 1962 as the Catholic Church Relief Fund (CCRF), which became the Catholic Overseas Relief Committee in 1964. In 1996 the agency became Caritas Australia. The word Caritas comes from Latin, and means love and compassion. Caritas connects young Australians in Catholic schools with the Caritas Australia mission to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity.
  • Vatican II

    The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. It was implemented as a means of spiritual renewal for the church and as an occasion for Christians separated from Rome to join in a search for Christian unity.
  • White Australia Policy Ends

    In 1973 the Whitlam Labor government definitively renounced the White Australia policy. In its place it established a policy of multiculturalism in a nation that is now home to migrants from nearly 200 different countries.
  • Fr Frank Fletcher

    Fr Frank raised awareness of Aboriginal spirituality in the wider community and its place in Christianity. His role as a priest, teacher, theologian, philosopher, activist, poet, uncle and brother was always played with humility. He opened the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in 1980.
  • Catholicism Becomes the Largest Religious Group

    In 1986, Catholicism overtook Anglicanism as the largest Christian and overall religious group.
  • Edward Bede Clancy

    Edward Clancy AC was an Australian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal. He was the seventh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney from 1983 to 2001. He was made Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Vallicella in 1988.
  • Mabo

    Eddie Mabo was an Indigenous Australian man who fought against Terra Nullius in Australia, creating a high court case which gave Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders claim to the land of Australia as it always was their land. Sadly, Mr Mabo died before the case was approved.
  • Native Title

    Native title is the designation given to the common law doctrine of Aboriginal title in Australia, which is the recognition by Australian law that Indigenous Australians have rights and interests to their land that derive from their traditional laws and customs.
  • Wik Peoples v Queensland

    The Wik decision arose out of two native title claims in Queensland, by the Wik peoples and the Thayorre people. The claims were over large areas which included a number of pastoral leases, and two special mining leases granted under ratified State Government agreements. The claimants asserted that their native title rights had survived the grant of the pastoral leases, and that the mining leases were invalid. They claimed Mabo.
  • World Youth Day (WYD) 2008

    World Youth Day 2008 was a Catholic youth festival that started on 15 July and continued until 20 July 2008 in Sydney, Australia. It was the first World Youth Day held in Australia and the first World Youth Day in Oceania. This meeting was decided by Pope Benedict XVI, during the Cologne World Youth Day of 2005. Here, Pope Benedict made a historical apology towards and concerning the sexual abuse of children within Churches throughout the world.