Catholic Church Timeline

Events

Portland in the south-west, the oldest town in Victoria, was founded as a coastal and pastoral settlement. The census of 1841 shows 203 Catholics in the district.

1834

The first Mass in the part of Victoria that later became Ballarat Diocese was celebrated in Portland in November 1844 by Archbishop Polding of Sydney.

1844

The first resident priest arrives at Portland. By 1849 a chapel had been built and soon after a school was started, also held in the chapel, with Miss Rosanna Phillipina Quinn as the first teacher.

1847

Gold was discovered at Clunes and other gold strikes followed progressively throughout the Central Victorian region bringing thousands of Europeans to the area..

1851

The first Mass is celebrated at Ballarat diggings.

1851

The Ballarat Parish is established.

1852

In Ballarat at the start of 1853 there were 850 children on the diggings. By the end of the year there were 3,600.

1853

Fr Patrick Smyth, a young priest, protects and nurses the wounded miners after the Eureka Stockade rebellion.

1854

The first stone is laid for the church of St Patrick’s in Ballarat.

1858

Government Land Acts open up Western Victoria to more settlement.

1862

Government funding to schools is cut and Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph take up teaching roles in many schools. Other orders of religious sisters and brothers, mostly from Ireland, are brought

1872

St Patrick’s Church Ballarat is raised to Cathedral status and Bishop Michael O’Connor is installed as 1st Bishop Of Ballarat on 20th December.

1874

The Diocese of Ballarat is established in April.

1874

James Moore is consecrated as 2nd Bishop of Ballarat on 27th April.

1884

The Chaffey Brothers establish a settlement at Mildura opening up the north west of Victoria.

1887

St Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat is consecrated by Archbishop Moran of Sydney.

1891

Joseph Higgins, Bishop of Rockhampton becomes the 3rd Bishop of Ballarat on 3rd March.

1905

Daniel Foley is consecrated as 4th Bishop on 24th August.

1916

After World War I, soldier settlement and the Murray irrigation scheme brought a wave of new communities and parishes in the north and far west of the Diocese.

1918

James P. O’Collins, Bishop of Geraldton becomes 5th Bishop of Ballarat on 23rd December.

1941

The aftermath of World War II causes significant immigration from Europe and there is growth in communities across the Diocese.

1945

Diocesan Journal Light is established.

1948

Bishop R.A.Mulkearns is installed as Bishop of Ballarat on 21st May.

1971

Centenary celebrations of the Diocese are held on 22nd March.

1974