Monday 24 May, updated Tuesday 25 May, 2021
Today, the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, is the first day of Catholic Education Week, and the beginning of a week of celebrations across the nation to mark 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia.
Ballarat Diocese Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral
Representative students from across the Diocese of Ballarat came together to attend Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat this morning. The Eucharist was celebrated by Very Reverend Kevin Maloney Vicar General.
“We are delighted to be able to gather together to celebrate such an important milestone in Catholic Education in Australia,” said Tom Sexton, Executive Director, Catholic Education Ballarat.
“The Diocese of Ballarat stretches across Western Victoria. All Saints Parish School in Portland was the first Catholic school to open in the diocese 172 years ago in 1849, making it the second Catholic school to open in the Colony of Victoria (District of Port Philip),” said Mr Sexton.
“Many of our 64 schools have local celebrations planned for the bicentenary during Catholic Education Week (23-29 May). We have enjoyed welcoming so many representative students and staff to today's Mass, some of whom have travelled significant distances across the diocese to join us,” said Mr Sexton.
View the Homily delivered at the Mass.
National Mass streamed live from St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney
Masses will be held with school representation in most Cathedrals across Australia this week, as well as a number of individual parishes and schools, including live streamed Masses. The National Mass was livestreamed from St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney this morning and can be watched below.
Students raise their voices to celebrate the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia
Catholic students from across the country have joined together in a video performance of the national song ‘Faith in the Future’, to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education in Australia, which marks the anniversary of the first official Catholic school opened in Parramatta in October 1820.
Congratulations to the students from St Alipius Parish Primary School, Ballarat East, who appeared in the video.
The national song was composed by Fr Rob Galea, who currently serves in Sandhurst Diocese. He was featured in the video with students from Notre Dame College Shepparton in Victoria.
“The song encapsulates the importance of the 200 years of history, influencing and forming the culture of Australia,” Fr Rob said. “200 Years of education is an incredible milestone and blessing.”
Prime Minister’s Message for the Bicentenary of Catholic Education
The Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison has recorded this congratulatory message to the Catholic education community for the occasion.
About the Celebration of 200 Years of Catholic Education in Australia
The bicentenary commemorates the anniversary of the first official Catholic school in Australia, founded in October 1820 by Irish Catholic priest Fr John Therry. The school, which Catholic historians believe was located on Hunter Street in Parramatta, taught 31 students. This school was transferred to the site of the present St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1837 and was entrusted to the care of the Marist Brothers in 1875. Parramatta Marist High School, now located in Westmead and St Patrick’s Primary, Parramatta trace their origins back to this first school.
Over 200 years Catholic schools have educated millions of young people and today educate one in five Australian students. Today, there are 1,751 Catholic schools educating 768,000 students and employing 98,000 staff. Nearly 40 per cent of Catholic schools are located outside of metropolitan cities in regional, rural and remote communities.
Visit the 200 Year Celebration website for more details.