1834 - Portland in the south-west, the oldest town in Victoria, was founded as a coastal and pastoral settlement.  The census of 1841 shows 203 Catholics in the district.
1844 - The first Mass in the part of Victoria that later became Ballarat Diocese was celebrated in Portland in November 1844 by Archbishop Polding of Sydney. 
1847 - The  first resident priest arrives at Portland.  By 1849 a chapel had been built and soon after a school was started, also held in the chapel, with Miss Rosanna Phillipina Quinn as the first teacher.  The average attendance was 25 children and she was paid a Government salary of twenty pounds a year.
1851 - Gold was discovered at Clunes and other gold strikes followed progressively throughout the Central Victorian region bringing thousands of Europeans to the area..
1851 - The first Mass is celebrated at Ballarat diggings.
1852 - The Ballarat Parish is established.
1853 - In Ballarat at the start of 1853 there were 850 children on the diggings.  By the end of the year there were 3,600. 
1854 - Fr Patrick Smyth, a young priest, protects and nurses the wounded miners after the Eureka Stockade rebellion.
1858 - The first stone is laid for the church of St Patrick’s in Ballarat.
1862 - Government Land Acts open up Western Victoria to more settlement.
1872 - Government funding to schools is cut and Mary MacKillop’s Sisters of St Joseph take up teaching roles in many schools.  Other orders of religious sisters and brothers, mostly from Ireland, are brought out to teach the children and care for the people of Victoria.
1874 - The Diocese of Ballarat is established in April.
1874 - St Patrick’s Church Ballarat is raised to Cathedral status and Bishop Michael O’Connor is installed as 1st Bishop Of Ballarat on 20th December.
1884 - James Moore is consecrated as 2nd Bishop of Ballarat on 27th April..
1887 - The Chaffey Brothers establish a settlement at Mildura opening up the north west of Victoria.
1891 - St Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat is consecrated by Archbishop Moran of Sydney.
1905 - Joseph Higgins, Bishop of Rockhampton becomes the 3rd Bishop of Ballarat on 3rd March.
1916 - Daniel Foley is consecrated as 4th Bishop on 24th August.
1918 After World War I, soldier settlement and the Murray irrigation scheme brought a wave of new communities and parishes in the north and far west of the Diocese.
1941 - James P. O’Collins, Bishop of Geraldton becomes 5th Bishop of  Ballarat on 23rd December.
1945 - The aftermath of World War II causes significant immigration from Europe and there is growth in communities across the Diocese.
1948 - Diocesan Journal Light is established.
1971 - Bishop R.A.Mulkearns is installed as Bishop of Ballarat on 21st May.
1974 - Centenary celebrations of the Diocese are held on 22nd March.
1979 -
Centacare Ballarat (then known as  Ballarat Diocesan Family Services) is established to provide support and social welfare services to all people in the Diocesan area.
1986 - Establishment of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat Foundation.
1986 - Final issue of Diocesan journal Light in December.
1988 - First issue of new Diocesan journal Our Diocesan Community in July.
1997 - Installation of Bishop Peter Connors as 7th Bishop of Ballarat on 23rd July.















Launch by the Ballarat Diocesan Catholic Education Office of a new Religious Education P-12 curriculum Awakenings.

Bishop Peter Connors retires as Bishop of the Diocese on July 31, 2012.

Fr Paul Bird CSsR was appointed Eighth Bishop of Ballarat by Pope Benedict XVI on 1 August 2012

2012 - Ordination and installation of Rev Paul Bird CSsR as 8th Bishop of Ballarat on 16th October.
2014 - Opening and blessing of new church in Buninyong on 20th July due to growth in the area and the old church being too small.
2014 - Announcement of new Catholic primary school to be built soon at Lucas in West Ballarat to meet growing demand.
2015 -

Launch of New Diocesan Website.

2016 -

The Diocesan Sacraments of Initiation Catechetical Resource,
“Let the Children Come” was launched by Bishop Paul Bird

2016 - Bishop R.A.Mulkearns dies on April 4.


We are the Catholic Church in the Ballarat Diocese
we gather in the name of Jesus from the Murray to the sea
in interwoven faith communities. Spirit filled
we celebrate and share our journey
reaching out to nurture all God's people.

Diocesan Vision Statement 2005

All Enquiries

PO Box 576
Ballarat, Victoria 3353

Phone +61 3 5337 7111

Where to find us

Catholic Diocese of Ballarat
5 Lyons Street South
Ballarat, Victoria 3353