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New South Wales - Organisation

Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney (1821 - )

Catholic and Diocese

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Catholicism arrived in Australia with the convicts and soldiers of the First Fleet in 1788, although the first Catholic ceremony was conducted by French explorer La Perouse. The first Catholic Mass on Australian soil was conducted until 1803 and the foundation stone for St Mary's Cathedral was laid in 1821. The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney conducts a range of ministries as well as social and other services, including CatholicCare Sydney. It funded many children's homes in the past, most of which were run by Catholic religious orders. It publishes Catholic Weekly.


In 1836 the Catholic community in Sydney petitioned the State Legislative Council for the establishment of a Catholic Orphanage, as 'destitute' Catholic children were routinely sent to Protestant orphanages, and consequently were being raised Protestant, not Catholic. In response to this the State Government agreed to provide financial support for an orphanage, and the Archdiocese established the Roman Catholic Orphan School at Waverley House in 1837, which was Australia's first Catholic Orphanage.


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: (No Title), The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 16 August 1836, 2 pp,

Prepared by: Naomi Parry & Constance Thurley-Hart