We come from many different lands and the story of our nation is also the story of our own community.
The Archdiocese of Melbourne is based in a region originally inhabited by Indigenous communities whose history extends for tens of thousands of years. We respectfully and humbly acknowledge that we stand on the lands of the Kulin Nation. We deeply respect the strong connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to the Australian landscape and treasure the gifts they bring to our Catholic community as well as the wider community.
From a Sydney based colony to the early establishment of the Melbourne village, the Melbourne Catholic story, is one of a vibrant and steadfast faith—lived in the midst of many challenges. Our first Mass was celebrated in a humble dwelling using a simple chest for the altar.
With the discovery of gold in Victoria, large numbers of Irish Catholics came to Melbourne. This event prompted the Archbishop of the time—James Goold and his flock to begin the establishment of parishes, hospitals and schools to minister to the local church. The spirituality of Irish Catholicism with its prayers, saints, love of the Mass and great devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, strongly forged the initial narrative of our Archdiocese.
The story of our Catholic ventures—the parishes, schools, hospitals, orphanages, and aged care facilities, to name a few, is the fruit of great work done by laity and leaders alike. Although we can often ‘name’ the leaders more readily, our heritage has been gifted to us by many ordinary men and women whose names we may never know but whose faith, hard work, grit and determination is still felt today. Our history includes the remarkable contributions made by three Catholic women: St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Dr Sr Mary Glowrey (Servant of God), and Caroline Chisholm who radically heeded the call to ‘love thy neighbour’ and in so doing, dramatically changed the communities in which they lived.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Australian Catholic story saw a further major development with the arrival of immigrants from a wide range of European nations. By bringing new devotions and celebrations, the new arrivals to this country broadened the spirituality of our local church. In more recent decades our Archdiocese has been greatly enriched with the arrivals of migrants from all over the world, including from Asia, South America and Africa.
Coming from all walks of life, we are united in faith and in the love of Jesus.
Feature image: Dr Mary Glowrey, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne c.1915. Courtesy of Mary Glowrey Collection/CWL Vic. & Wagga Wagga.