The Rich History of the Diocese of Parramatta:
A Captivating Journey
The Diocese of Parramatta boasts a captivating history that stretches back to the early days of Catholicism in Australia. Established in 1986, it was founded to serve the rapidly growing, multicultural population in Sydney’s western suburbs. The roots of Catholicism in this region can be traced back to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, when the seeds of faith were first sown in Australian soil.
A Journey of Growth and Transformation
Over the years, the Diocese of Parramatta has experienced remarkable growth and transformation. It has borne witness to the unwavering dedication of its bishops, priests, religious, and laypeople who have worked tirelessly to spread the message of Christ’s love and foster a vibrant faith community. The Diocese has also played a pivotal role in the development of education, healthcare, and social services in the area, leaving an enduring impact on the lives of countless individuals.
Founding and Establishment
Established by Pope John Paul II on April 8, 1986, the Diocese of Parramatta emerged in response to the burgeoning population and cultural diversity of the western suburbs of Sydney. Despite its relatively recent establishment, many of its parishes have a much older history. For instance, Parramatta parish dates back to 1827, while Windsor and Penrith parishes were established in 1832 and 1839, respectively. Even newer parishes like Rouse Hill were formed in 2007.
Significance of Parramatta
Parramatta was chosen as the seat of the Diocese due to its historical significance in the early European settlement of Australia, its prominence as a commercial and administrative hub, and its crucial role in connecting the western suburbs with other parts of Sydney. It serves as a microcosm of contemporary urban Australia, with a mix of established parishes like Parramatta and Windsor and newer suburbs like Stanhope Gardens and Rouse Hill.
Spiritual Leaders and Legacy
The first Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Bede Heather, was installed on May 19, 1986. He was succeeded by Bishop Kevin Manning (1996-2010), followed by Bishop Anthony Fisher OP (2010-2014), who later became the Archbishop of Sydney. Subsequently, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv took on the role of Bishop of Parramatta in 2016.
Geographical Reach and Impact
The Diocese of Parramatta, as a suffragan diocese of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, covers an extensive area of 4,289 square kilometres to the west of Sydney. Its boundaries reach from Dundas Valley to Megalong Valley in the west, from Luddenham in the south to Wisemans Ferry in the north.
Diverse Local Government Divisions
Encompassing seven local government divisions – The Hills Shire, Blacktown City, Blue Mountains City Council, Hawkesbury Shire, Cumberland Council, City of Parramatta, and Penrith City Council – as well as parts of Wollondilly and Liverpool, the Diocese nurtures the spiritual lives of hundreds of thousands of Catholics under its care. Moreover, it provides support to thousands more within the local community. Its Catholic education system is committed to delivering a quality education to every student. Additionally, Catholic Care and other agencies and ministries collaborate with local individuals and organisations to enhance the quality of life in Western Sydney.
A Timeline of Legacy
|The 1803 Proclamation, requiring all Catholics to register for official Masses in the colony, was read at Old Government House in Parramatta Park. The second and third official Masses in Australia were celebrated by Rev James Dixon in Parramatta and the Hawkesbury, respectively.
|1820 – 1830
|Rev Therry and Rev Power ministered in the region. An inquest recorded Rev Power’s death in 1830 as a “visitation of God.”
|1830 – 1860
|The first religious profession in Australia occurred in St Patrick’s Parramatta in 1835 when Sr Xavier took her vows in the Sisters of Charity. The diocese now hosts more than 50 religious congregations. Parishes like Windsor, Penrith, Blackheath, and Richmond were established during this period.
|On May 19, 1986, the Diocese of Parramatta was established with Bishop Bede Heather as the first bishop. Post World War II, the diocese witnessed an influx of people from war-torn Europe and other conflict-ridden regions, leading to a truly multicultural faith community.
|Bishop Bede Heather was succeeded by Bishop Kevin Manning, who had previously been Bishop of Armidale.
|Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP was installed as the third Bishop of Parramatta, focusing on goals like growing and sharing the faith, particularly in areas such as families, youth, ethnicity, vocations, and evangelisation.
|Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP was appointed Archbishop of Sydney, and the diocese was administered by Very Rev Peter G Williams until 2016.
|Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv was installed as the fourth Bishop of Parramatta, continuing the diocese’s mission.