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Catholic Church History in Australia
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1778- Arrival of First Fleet at Sydney Cove plus the first Mass that was said on Australian soil by Fr. Receveur
1802 Foundation of Christian Brothers by Edmund Ignatius Rice, Ireland
1803- Father Dixon, almost certainly unjustly convicted for his alleged role in the rising of 1798, conducted the first official Mass in May 1803
1817-1818: For a brief period (1817-1818) the flamboyant, freelance priest, Fr Jeremiah O’Brien ministered to Catholics. When he was deported on the orders of Governor Macquarie he left the Blessed Sacrament in the home of a leading Catholic. With the lack of a priest to celebrate Mass, the consecrated host became the centre of Catholic worship in Sydney.
1820- A new era began in 1820 when the British authorities approved the sending of two Catholic chaplains, Frs. J. Therry and P. Conolly. Both had serious temperamental weaknesses as they faced the same problems as their Protestant equivalents.
1821- Construction of first Catholic church at Richmond, Tasmania
1823- New South Wales Judicature Act establishes the Legislative Council of NSW
1835- Bede Polding becomes Australia’s first Catholic bishop
1836- Fr. Ullathorne publishes book criticising harsh treatment of convicts + Proclamation of the colony of South Australia
1833- Bendictine Dr William Ullathorne arrived in Sydney in 1833 as vicar-general of Australia. He established some kind of discipline in Sydney and became known by the title ‘Agitator General’ for his fierce fight against the anti-papists. He also campaigned strongly against transportation.
1842- Beginning of Representative Government in Australia + Appointment of Robert Wilson as first Archbishop of Hobart
1870- John Brady appointed Bishop of Perth + Archbishop Polding complains of injustice to Aborigines at NSW Parliamentary Committee Meeting
1847- James Alepius Goold becomes first Catholic bishop of Melbourne
1848- The Catholic Church in Australia is divided into provinces and dioceses
1851- Fr. Patrick Dunne celebrates Mass on the goldfields of Ballarat
1866- Mary McKillop and Fr. Julian Tenison Woods found Sisters of St. Joseph + Daniel Murphy appointed second Archbishop of Hobart
1868- Christian Brothers arrive in Melbourne + Re-building of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney begins
1990-1912: Up until 1900 or thereabouts the Australian episcopate was basically Roman in outlook but with the appointment of Daniel Mannix to Melbourne in 1912, Irish traditions began to emerge
1877- In 1877 another English Benedictine, Bede Vaughan, succeeded Polding as Archbishop of Sydney. He spoke constantly for Catholic rights and did much to establish Catholic schools but did not have a good relationship with his suffragan (helper) bishops and priests
1884- In 1884 Moran was appointed Archbishop of Sydney in succession to Archbishop Vaughan and was shortly thereafter named by the pope as a cardinal. Cardinal Moran realised the need for native born priests and set about the building of a national seminary at Manly
1916- Archbishop Mannix enjoyed enormous influence amongst Irish Catholics. His did not support conscription during the First World War and was accused by the Prime Minister, Billy Hughes of the defeat of the referendum on the issue. He considered Britain culpable in the violence of the Irish uprising in 1916
1930- In the 1930s Australian born priests began to outnumber Irish born priests.
1930- In 1930 James Patrick O'Collins was appointed Bishop of Geraldton. He was Australian-born and educated in Propaganda Fide College in Rome where he became Head Prefect. His appointment set in train a long list of similar nominations to Australian sees
1967- This trend towards Roman-formed Australians in the major sees culminated with the appointments of Archbishop Thomas Cahill to Canberra and Archbishop, later Cardinal, James Knox to Melbourne in 1967
1950- The 1950s was another period of rapid growth for the Catholic Church in Australia. Europeans, many of them refugees from the Second World War, migrated to Australia. Large numbers of Catholics came from Italy, Malta, Poland and many other places. This was also the time of the post war ‘baby boom’. Many new parishes were established with the consequent need for more priests, churches and schools.
1962-5: From 1962 to 1965 the Second Vatican Council was held in Rome. All bishops from around the world attended the council sessions. This was the major event of the Church in the Twentieth Century bringing about, amongst many other things, a change in emphasis on the hierarchical structure of the Church.
1700-75: The 1970s saw another influx of Catholics, this time from Vietnam. After the communist takeover of South Vietnam in 1975 about 160,000 refugees, many of them ‘boat people’, arrived in Australia. About 30% were Catholic. More and more, the Catholic Church in Australia is a multi-cultural community.
1970- With the continued growth of Catholic schools the need for teacher training became critical. Catholic Teachers Colleges founded in the eastern states for the training of religious sisters and brothers began to take lay students in the 1970s.
2000- Opening of Corpus Christi seminary, Carlton +Opening of Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago +St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney completed
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