St Patrick’s Cathedral is the symbolic heart of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta – a dynamic centre of worship, prayer, community, and mission. Today, it stands as an iconic physical landmark on the City of Parramatta skyline. The Foundation Stone for St Patrick’s was laid over 170 years ago, on St Patrick’s Day in 1836. When the Diocese of Parramatta was established in 1986, St Patrick’s became the designated Cathedral.
Rev James Dixon celebrated the first Mass in Parramatta near the present-day St Patrick’s on 22 May 1803. After the Vinegar Hill Rebellion of 1804, Mass privileges were withdrawn. Rev Therry’s arrival in 1820 reinstated Mass celebrations. Rev Daniel Power started the first church in Parramatta in 1827. Archbishop Polding OSB laid the Foundation Stone on 17 March 1836, and the church was consecrated on 28 May 1837. A larger church was commissioned in 1854, and the Foundation Stone was laid on 13 August. The Pugin Tower’s Foundation Stone was laid on 10 November 1878, and the tower was consecrated on 17 March 1880. A new church was built in 1936, incorporating the tower and spire. The Cathedral was destroyed by fire on 19 February 1996, and rebuilt to its current form, dedicated on 29 November 2003.
Parish Priests & Deans
- 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 2014-2020
- Very Rev Peter Williams AM 2020-2020
- Very Rev Robert Riedling 2021 – present
The Bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral
Church bells have served as timekeepers and called the faithful to prayer for centuries. The peal of bells at St Patrick’s Cathedral dates to 1853, and in 2020, a peal of eight specially commissioned bells was finally installed. Ranging in weight from 150 to 450 kilograms, they were accompanied by the St Patrick bell, gifted by parishioners. Six of the bells were over 100 years old and sourced from St Paul’s Anglican Church in Widnes, Liverpool, England. Two new bells were cast in England. The bells were blessed, consecrated, and christened after various saints and benefactors.
Christening St Patrick’s Cathedral’s Peal of Bells in Honour and in Memory
Each bell in the peal at St Patrick’s Cathedral has been blessed, consecrated, and christened, bearing the names of remarkable and influential Saints. These bells stand as a tribute to their memory and significance:
In loving memory of Anne Vassallo
Gifted with love by her family
Gifted by the Baiada Family
St Bede the Venerable
Donated by the Keltek Trust
In tribute to Ron Shepherd OAM
Gifted by Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers
St Brigid of Ireland
Donated by Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, commemorating 200 years of Catholic education in the Diocese of Parramatta
Donated by Dr Joseph and Yvonne Malouf and Family
To the Glory of God
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
In honour of Cardinal Francis Xavier, Nguyen Van Thuan and Mother Marie-Adele Garnier.
Donated by the Nguyen Phan Family
St Michael the Archangel
Donated by John, Justine, Lorenzo, Joyce, and Jeremy Ju, and Peter, Priscilla, and Patrick Newman
These names pay homage to individuals and saints who have left their mark on history, faith, and the community. Each bell symbolises their legacy and the values they represent. The peal of bells serves as a lasting tribute, ringing out to touch hearts and souls, reminding us of their contributions and the presence of the divine.
Prelude to a Peal of Bells
St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta holds a rich history, being home to the site of the first Roman Catholic Church dedicated to St Patrick in Australia. The first Mass was celebrated in 1803, and the first St Patrick’s Church was consecrated in 1837. Plans for a peal of bells at St Patrick’s date back to 1853, and over the years, the Cathedral underwent restoration and rebuilding efforts. The beloved “Patrick” bell chimed for 92 years until the Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1996. “Patrick” was restored and reinstalled in 2003, and provision was made for a peal of eight bells to accompany it.
Heralding St Patrick’s Peal of Bells
After decades of dreams and efforts, the Bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral were finally installed in the Cathedral bell tower in December 2020. This melodious peal of bells, accompanying the iconic “Patrick” bell, serves as a glorious addition to St Patrick’s Cathedral, resonating daily and calling the community to worship and prayer. The strong sense of community and the dream of a peal of bells have remained constants throughout the Cathedral’s history.
Bell ringing commences at 10.30am each Sunday.
For enquiries on learning to ring, please contact Fr Christopher del Rosario. For more information about the Bells of St Patrick’s Cathedral, bell ringing events, and images, visit the Cathedral’s website and the Australian and New Zealand Association of Bellringers.