Timeline of the Catholic Church in Australia

Events

First Fleet lands Sydney Cove Abbe Mones, celebrates the first Mass within Australian territory

1788

Abbe Mones, celebrates the first Mass within Australian territory

First Irish convicts are transported to Botany Bay

1791

Catholic settlers in Parramatta petition Governor Phillip for a chaplin

1792

Irish rebellion

1798

Fr James Dixon and two other priests arrested as part of the Rebellion and are transported as convicts

1800

First official public Mass is held under strict Government supervision and is celebrated by prisoner priest, Fr Dixon

1803

Fr Dixon's permit to conduct Mass is withdrawn

1804

Fr John Therry and Fr Philip Conolly, Australia's first official priests, arrive in Sydney.

1819

The foundation stone of St Mary's Chapel is laid and blessed. Father Connolly builds the first Catholic church in Tasmania

1821

Fr Therry founds the first Catholic school on Hunter Street, Parramatta

1822

Fr Therry is removed from his role as the colony’s official chaplain

1825

Fr Daniel Power lands in Sydney to replace Fr Therry as official chaplain to the growing colony.

1826

Australia’s first census is held and reveals 25,248 are Protestants and 11,236 Catholics

1828

Penal laws preventing Catholics holding Government positions ends

1829

Fr John McEncroe appointed official chaplain to the Catholics of Australia.

1832

Fr Therry celebrates the first Mass at St Mary’s chapel. Fr William Ullalthorne arrives in Sydney as the colony's first Vicar General

1833

Benedictine priest, John Polding is consecrated and appointed Vicar Apostolic with jurisdiction over the Commonwealth of Australia.

1834

Governor Bourke reinstates Fr Therry as the colony's official chaplain.

1837

Five Sisters of Charity arrive in Sydney with a mission to help the poor and disadvantaged.

1838

Archiepiscopal See and Polding becomes Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of Australia.

1842

Adelaide and Hobart are made episcopal sees. Transport of convicts officially stops

Polding launches the first Catholic Mission to Aborigines on Stradbroke Island, Queensland.

1843

Archbishop Polding consecrates Fr Francis Murphy as Bishop of Adelaide in the first episcopal conscration to take place in Australia.

1844

Archdeacon McEncroe, founds the Freeman's Journal.

1850

The Archdiocese has 33 parishes, 30 churches and 35 priests, 55,000 Catholics, most of whom are Irish.

1851

The NSW Government passes a bill to abolish State aid to religion

1862

Fire destroys St Mary's Cathedral. Archdeacon McEncroe begins fundraising efforts for a new cathedral

1865

Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods found the Sisters of St. Joseph.

1866

Mary MacKillop becomes the first Sister and Mother Superior of the Sisters of St Joseph

1867

Mother Mary MacKillop excommunicated

1871

An Episcopal Commission exonerates Mother Mary MacKillop. She is recommunicated into the church.

1872

Roger Bede Vaughan is appointed titular archbishop in partibus and eventual successor to Archbishop Polding.

1873

Archbishop Polding dies at Sacred Heart Presbytery in Sydney. Roger Bede Vaughan becomes Archbishop of Sydney

1877

Arrival of the Jesuits in Sydney

1878

NSW Catholic Bishops issue a Joint Pastoral Letter stating that Catholics must send their children to Catholic schools.

1879

The Catholic Times raises £30,000 to rebuild St Mary's Cathedral. St Ignatius College, is established by the Jesuits Brothers.

1880

First St Vincent de Paul Society established in Sydney. Marist Brothers found St Joseph's College

1881

The first-ever Plenary Council of the Australian Catholic Church is held in Sydney.

1885

The Archbishop's Official Residence at Manly is completed

1886

Australian Catechism inaugurated

1905

Death of Mother Mary MacKillop

1909

St Columba's College, seminary, opens at Springwood, NSW

1910

The Archdiocese now has 189 churches, eight hospitals and three seminaries.

1911

The Australian Catholic Federation is established in Victoria.

1912

Formation of the Australian Catholic Federation in NSW.

1913

World War I declared. Catholics become influential in the Australian Labor Party.

1914

Founding of the Knights of the Southern Cross. Mother Mary MacKillop is appointed patron of the order

1919

Formation of the Catholic Teachers' Federation

1922

James Scullin becomes Australia's first Catholic prime minister

1929

Norman Gilroy, former Bishop and a veteran during World War I is created Archbishop in partibus

1937

Archbishop Michael Kelly dies. Archbishop Gilroy becomes Archbishop of Sydney

1940

Archbishop Gilroy is created Cardinal and becomes the first Australian-born member of the Sacred College

1946

Foundation of the Catholic Immigration Office to welcome and assist new immigrants

1950

Sydney born, James Darcy Freeman is elected bishop in partibus to Sydney.

1956

Caritas, is established to respond to poverty, hunger and disasters among people in need

1963

Death of Pope John XXIII. The Second Vatican Council commences. The Mass changes from Latin to English

1963

Post World War II baby boom causes 27 percent of teachers in Archdiocese schools are now lay people

1965

Pope Paul VI makes the first-ever Papal visit to Australia

1970

Cardinal Gilroy dies and is succeeded by Archbishop James Darcy Freeman

1971

More than 52%, of teachers in Archdiocese schools are now lay people

1972

Archbishop Freeman becomes Cardinal Freeman.

1973

Rome declares that Australia is no longer a mission country

1976

First Catholic lay people graduate in theology

1980

Cardinal Freeman dies. Archbishop Edward Bede Clancy,becomes Archbishop of Sydney

1983

Pope John Paul II visits Australia.

1986

Archbishop Clancy is created a Cardinal

1988

Foundation of Notre Dame University and the Australian Catholic University

1991

Mother Mary of the Cross, Mary MacKillop is beatified.

1995

Catholic Institute of Sydney for Theology and Ministry opens at Strathfield.

1996

Restoration of the St Mary's Cathedral begins.

1997

Work on the spires following William Wardell's original designs is started.

1998

The two spires of St Mary's Cathedral are finally completed

2000

Death of much loved, Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope Benedict XVI

2005