Catholic History In Australia


First Fleet


First Fleet lands Sydney Cove. The first mass within Australian territory is celebrated after La Perouse arrives at Botany Bay with his chaplain Abbe Mones.

First Priest


Fr. John Therry and Fr. Philip Conolly are the first official preiest of Australia. In Parramatta, Fr. Therry opens the first Catholic school while he lobbies Governor Macquarie for land on which to build the settlement's first Catholic church



Australia's first census is held and reveals a white population of 36,598 which includes both free settlers and convicts. Among these, 25,248 are Protestants and 11,236 Catholics

Government Positions


1829 Catholics are now allowed to hold a Government Position as the Penal laws preventing it is lifted.

State Aid


1862 The NSW Government passes a bill to abolish State aid to religion

Sisters of St. Joseph


1866 Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Tenison Woods found the Sisters of St. Joseph. Daniel Murphy appointed second Archbishop of Hobart A temporary St Mary's Cathedral begins construction until a brandnew cathedral can be built

Death of Mary Mackillop


1909 Death of Mother Mary MacKillop



1914 World War I declared. Figures such as Ben Chiffley and James Scullin rise in the labour party making Catholics more influential.

Catholic Prime Minister


1929 James Scullin becomes Australia's first Catholic prime minister

Death of Pope John XXIII


1963 Death of Pope John XXIII who is succeeded by Pope Paul VI. The Second Vatican Council commences and appoints Cardinal Gilroy to the Council of Presidency. The Mass changes from Latin to English

First Ever Papal Visit


1970 Pope Paul VI makes the first-ever Papal visit to Australia

St Mary's


1997 Restoration of the St Mary's Cathedral begins.

Pope John Paul II dies


2005 Pope John Paul II Has a heart attack and dies. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI


Pope Benedict XVI makes his first visit to Australia when the Archdiocese of Sydney hosts World Youth Day. The event was a huge success, it quickly becomes the fastest growing Catholic website worldwide.