History

Timeline

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 December 20. (Bishop O’Connor was ordained Bishop in Ireland on May 17, 1874 and arrived in Ballarat on December 20, 1874).

1883

Bishop Michael O’Connor dies on February 14 and is buried in the crypt at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

1884

Fr James Moore is consecrated as 2nd Bishop of Ballarat on April 27 – the first Bishop to be ordained in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

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.

1904

Bishop James Moore dies on June 26 and is buried in the crypt at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

1905

Bishop Joseph Higgins, Bishop of Rockhampton, becomes the 3rd Bishop of Ballarat on March 3.  (Bishop Higgins was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney on March 31, 1883 and appointed as Bishop of Rockhampton on May 4, 1899 prior to translating to the Diocese of Ballarat).

1915

Bishop Joseph Higgins dies on September 16 and is buried in the crypt at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

1916

Fr Daniel Foley is consecrated as 4th Bishop on August 24 – the second Bishop to be ordained in St Patrick’s Cathedral.  (Fr Foley was Parish Priest of Terang parish prior to his appointment as Bishop).

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

Bishop James Foley dies on October 31 at Koroit is buried in the crypt at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

1941

Bishop James P O’Collins, Bishop of Geraldton, becomes 5th Bishop of Ballarat on December 23.  (Bishop O’Collins was ordained Bishop of Geraldton on May 11, 1930 prior to translating to the Diocese of Ballarat).

1942

Bishop O’Collins is installed as Bishop of Ballarat on April 19.

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.

1968

Fr Ronald Austin Mulkearns is ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Ballarat on December 4.

1971

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns is installed as 6th Bishop of Ballarat on May 1.

1974

Centenary celebrations of the Diocese are held on March 22.

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.

1983

Bishop James P O’Collins dies November 25 and is buried in the crypt at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

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.

1991

Mass to celebrate the Centenary of the Consecration of St Patrick’s Cathedral on November 22.

1995

The Diocese of Ballarat celebrates the Beatification of Mary MacKillop on August 11.

1997

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns resigned as Bishop of Ballarat on May 30.

1997

Installation of Bishop Peter Joseph Connors as 7th Bishop of Ballarat on July 23.  (Bishop Connors was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne on May 21, 1987 prior to translating to the Diocese of Ballarat).

2000

Mass for the Dedication of the Altar at St Patrick’s Cathedral on April 26 following renovations.

2003

Diocesan Assembly 2003 – 2004 plan launched in May.

2004

Diocesan Assembly, “Releasing the Gifts” held May 14-15 after twelve months of preparation.

2005

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

2008

World Youth Day, “Days in the Diocese”.  The Ballarat Diocese hosts pilgrims from Canada, East Timor, Ireland, Macau, Potugal and the United States of America from July 9-13 prior to WYD in Sydney.

2012

Bishop Peter Connors retires as Bishop of Ballarat on July 31.

2012

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

2012

Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the retirement of Bishop Peter Connors on October 1 at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

2012

Ordination and installation of Fr Paul Bird CSsR as 8th Bishop of Ballarat on October 16 – the third Bishop to be ordained in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

2014

Opening and blessing of new church in Buninyong on July 20 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.

2015

Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy – Opening of the Holy Door of Mercy on December 13 at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

2016

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

2016

Bishop Ronald Mulkearns dies on April 4.

2017

Mass to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Peter Connors on May 21.

2018

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR decrees three new parishes for the Diocese, formed by joining groups of neighbouring parishes that have already been working together and sharing a parish priest.   Click here for more information.