200 Years of Catholic education in Australia

Catholic education in Australia is celebrating 200 years in 2021, marking the bicentenary of the first Catholic school established in Parramatta, New South Wales.

The Parramatta school, founded in October 1820 by Irish Catholic priest Fr John Therry and run by convict and lay person George Marley, taught 31 students.

Fr Philip Conolly, who arrived in Sydney alongside Fr Therry – the pair being Australia’s first official Catholic priests – worked with him in Parramatta for one year before making his way to Hobart.

Catholic education in Tasmania was established soon after, when Fr Conolly founded Hobart’s pioneer Catholic school in 1822.

Tasmania’s longest operating Catholic School is St John’s in Richmond, established in 1843. The school population has grown from just 20 students on its first day to more than 300 students today.

Front row: Year 6 students Kate, Noah, Zoe & Archie.
Back Row: Principal Megan Richardson, Sr Margaret Henderson RSM, Archbishop Julian, Dr Gerard Gaskin, Peter Douglas and Fr Terry Rush PP.

The 200th anniversary celebrations were launched in the Archdiocese of Hobart by Archbishop Julian and Catholic Education Tasmania executive director Dr Gerard Gaskin at St John’s Catholic School, Richmond on February 12.

Over the past 200 years, Catholic schools have grown with one in five school-age students attending a Catholic school.

This represents some 768,000 students in 1,751 schools across the country, employing 98,000 teachers and staff.

In Tasmania more than 16,000 students attend 38 Catholic schools and colleges, and Catholic Education Tasmania employs almost 2,500 teachers and staff.

Tags: Front Page News, News, Richmond, Southern Deanery