Celebrating 200 years of Catholic Education

Catholic Education is celebrating 200 years in Australia, marking the bicentenary of the first Catholic school established in Parramatta in October 1820.

First Catholic school

The first Catholic school in Australia was founded in October 1820 by Irish Catholic priest Fr John Therry and run by convict and lay person George Marley. The school, which Catholic historians believe was in Hunter Street, Parramatta, taught 31 students. By 1833, there were 10 Catholic schools in the colony.

Celebrating the legacy

Over 200 years, Catholic schools have grown to become the largest provider of schooling in Australia (outside government) with one in five school age students attending a Catholic school.

This represents 777,000 students in 1,755 schools across the country and employing over 100,000 teachers and staff.

Nearly 40 per cent of Catholic schools are located outside of metropolitan cities in regional, rural and remote communities.

The formal celebrations were due to be held from October 2020 to October 2021. However, due to pandemic restrictions, the celebrations will now be held during the 2021 school year.

The official national launch of the celebrations was held virtually on 18 February 2021 with local launches held across Australia during February.

A National Mass is being celebrated in states and dioceses on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians on 24 May 2021.