History of the Diocese

Brief history of the Diocese of Parramatta

St Patrick's Cathedral
The rebuilt St Patrick’s  Cathedral, opened 29 November 2003. Photo: Hamilton Lund

The Diocese of Parramatta takes in seven local government divisions: Baulkham Hills Shire, Blacktown City, the City of the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury Shire, the Municipality of Holroyd, Parramatta City and Penrith City and parts of Wollondilly and Liverpool. This area encompasses the lands of the Darrug people.

Although the Diocese was established in 1986, there was already a vibrant Catholic life in the area stretching back to the beginning of European settlement.

It was at Old Government House in Parramatta Park that the 1803 Proclamation requiring all Catholics to register for the first official Masses in the colony was read. Rev James Dixon celebrated the second and third official Masses in Australia in Parramatta and the Hawkesbury respectively in May 1803.  

Rev Therry and Rev Power ministered in the region in the 1820s. An inquest recorded the latter’s death in 1830 as a “visitation of God”. Windsor and Penrith had Catholic communities in the 1830s, Blackheath was attended from Hartley in 1842, and the foundation stone for Richmond was laid in 1859. Cardinal Clancy comes from Richmond parish.

The first religious profession in Australia took place in St Patrick’s Parramatta, in 1835 when Sr Xavier took her first vows in the Sisters of Charity. Now members of more than 50 religious Congregations live and work in the Diocese.

On 19 May 1986, the new Diocese of Parramatta was created with Bishop Bede Heather as the first bishop.

He was succeeded in 1997 by Bishop Kevin Manning who had previously been Bishop of Armidale.

In 2010, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP DD was installed as the third Bishop of Parramatta.

In the years following WWII, many people arrived in the Diocese from war-torn Europe and, since then, many others have come from places of conflict, persecution and economic hardship. Their strong Catholic faith and family values have enriched the Diocese and made it a truly multicultural faith community.