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Bishop Shane Mackinlay opens the Holy Door at Sacred Heart Cathedral, inauguating Sandhurst Diocese’s 150th year (Sandhurst Diocese)

Hundreds of pilgrims walked from St Kilian’s Church to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo on Sunday to launch the start of the Sandhurst Diocese’s 150th anniversary year.

March 30 marks 150 years since the canonical establishment of the diocese, which was formed from four mission stations (Bendigo – known as Sandhurst at the time – Heathcote, Beechworth and Wangaratta).

Today, the diocese is home to 85,000 Catholics, 40 parishes, 56 schools, six nursing homes and one hospital; and spans over 450,100 square kilometres in northern Victoria – from Heathcote to Cohuna to Corryong and Mount Beauty.

The jubilee celebrations commenced with a Pilgrimage from St Kilian’s Church to Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday, tracing part of the Diocese’s history. 

As there was no cathedral when the diocese was established, St Kilian’s Church became the pro-cathedral (a temporary cathedral) until Sacred Heart Cathedral was opened in 1901. 

Pilgrims gathered at St Kilian’s Church and were welcomed to Country by Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta man Troy Firebrace. Sandhurst Bishop Shane Mackinlay then blessed a specially commissioned processional Cross and pilgrims before they processed through Bendigo to Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Bishop Mackinlay officially inaugurated the Jubilee Year with the ceremonial opening of the cathedral’s Jubilee Door (or Holy Door). Pilgrims followed the bishop, clergy, and choir through the Jubilee Door, proclaiming Jesus as opening the way to God’s love. 

In his homily at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, Bishop Mackinlay noted that, although much has changed in the 150 years since the Diocese was established, the mission of the Church and the Christian people has remained constant.

“A mission to bring good news to the poor; to bind up hearts which are broken; … to set the downtrodden free; to bring care and encouragement to those who are struggling … This has always been the mission of the Christian people. It has been the mission of the local Church in this place throughout our history and continues to be our mission today.”  


 150th Anniversary of the Diocese of Sandhurst (Sandhurst Diocese)