The story of the Patrician Brothers coming to Australia in 1883 has its beginnings in Australia itself. White Australia began in 1788 as a penal colony for the British Government. From the beginning, relations between Church and State were somewhat strained, especially between the Irish Catholic Church and British State.
At first all education was provided at the expense of the State. All Government and Private schools were funded by the taxes of the people. For the Catholic Bishops of the infant Church community of New South Wales, the Catholic schools were the nurseries of the Church. The Government school system was seen as ‘seed-plots of future immorality’. While there were a few Religious Congregations in the young colony to assist with the education of Catholic children, most teachers in Church schools were lay people. Their wages were paid by the Government.
The history of the early colony reveals many ‘clashes’ between the Irish and British. Education was to be one of the key points of conflict. In 1879 the New South Wales Government withdrew all financial support from all schools outside the Government system. The Bishops were determined to maintain a Catholic school system. Since they no longer had the finances to pay lay teachers, they began to appeal to Religious Congregations around the world to send members of their Congregations to run and teach in their schools.