Catholic school communities yesterday marked the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia with a national Mass celebrated simultaneously across the country. Source: NCEC.
The celebrations marked 200 years since the first official Catholic school opened in Parramatta in October 1820.
Masses were held with school representation in most cathedrals across Australia, as well as a number of individual parishes and schools.
National Catholic Education executive director Jacinta Collins said the National Mass, held on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, was a highlight of the bicentenary year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison provided a message of congratulations to the Catholic education community for the occasion, recognising the contribution of Catholic Education to Australian life.
“Two hundred years ago, Fr John Therry answered the call to educate the youth of Parramatta. From that small beginning of 31 students began a great work that now spans 1755 schools, 100,000 staff and 777,000 school students,” Mr Morrison said.
“From Xavier Catholic College, Wurrumiyanga in our most north; to Sacred Heart Catholic School, Geeveston in our south; to St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Carnarvon in the west; to St Finbarr’s, Byron Bay in the east; and to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Alice Springs in our red centre, Australia’s Catholic Schools cover the breadth of our country.
“Over 200 years, your schools, preschools and now universities, have transformed Australia through the millions of lives you have influenced.”
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP told the congregation at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and those watching via livestream that “after two centuries of service, we in Catholic education are determined to make an even greater contribution to the lives of our young people, families, church and society.”