History of St Patrick’s Cathedral

Rev James Dixon celebrated the first Mass in Parramatta within the vicinity of the present day St Patrick’s on 22 May 1803.

After the Vinegar Hill Rebellion of 1804 in Castle Hill, the privilege was withdrawn. It was not until Rev Therry's arrival in 1820 that Mass was again celebrated.

Rev Daniel Power replaced him and began the first church in Parramatta in 1827. It was still unroofed in 1835 when Archbishop Polding OSB arrived, and when finally completed, it became a schoolhouse.

Archbishop Polding OSB laid the Foundation Stone on 17 March 1836 and the church was consecrated on 28 May 1837.

By 1854, the existing church was too small so Fr Coffey OFM Conv commissioned a larger church and the Foundation Stone was laid on 13 August 1854.

On 10 November 1878, Dean Rigney laid the Foundation Stone for the Pugin Tower to be added to the existing church. The tower was consecrated on 17 March 1880. The spire was blessed in January 1883.

A new church was built on the site in 1936 to meet the needs of a growing congregation. It incorporated the existing tower and spire. The Foundation Stone was laid on 26 May 1935 and the church opened on 31 May 1936.

In 1986, the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta was established and St Patrick's Church was designated a Cathedral. The present Cathedral was the fourth on the site.

On 19 February 1996, it was destroyed by fire. The destruction of the Cathedral evoked extraordinary feeling in the community. The Premier, Prime Minister and Governor-General all visited the site to inspect the ruins.

The Bishop of Parramatta at the time, Most Rev Bede Heather, promised parishioners “A new St Patrick’s will rise from these ashes.” The work towards this goal continued, with an announcement by the second Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Kevin Manning, that St Patrick's Cathedral would be restored to regain its place as a building of historical significance in the local landscape.

The new St Patrick’s Cathedral was dedicated on 29 November 2003.


Fr Brennan 1839-42 & 47-52
Dean Coffey OSF 1852-1857
Dean Sumner OSB 1857-1864
Dean Forde 1864-1874
Mons Rigney 1874-1889
Mons O’Reilly 1889-1919
Mons O’Gorman 1919-1931
Mons Patrick O`Donnell 1931-1953
Mons Joseph McGovern 1953-1964
Mons Frank Kerr 1964-1974
Fr Joseph Weaver March-June 1974
Fr Don Peisley 1974-1976
Dean Brian Larkey 1976-1991
Dean John Boyle 1991-2000
Dean Kevin Walsh 2000-2004
Dean Peter Williams 2004-2006
Dean Wim Hoekstra 2006-2012
Rev John McSweeney 2012-2014
Very Rev Fr Robert Bossini 2014-present

History of St Patrick's Cathedral: The 1996 fire, restoration and 2003 Dedication
The 1996 fire, restoration and 2003 Dedication overview

Dedication Mass – The Holy Father's Message

Dedication Mass – Homily by Cardinal Cassidy

Dedication Mass – Bishop Manning's Address

Music commissioned for the Dedication
History of St Patrick's Cathedral: Blessing of pipe organ and first performance
Blessing of pipe organ and first performance in St Patrick's Cathedral