Perth Community to join in celebrating bicentenary of Catholic education

20 May 2021

By Contributor

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe with students from across Catholic secondary schools in 2019 at the annual LifeLink forum. Photo: Ron Tan

Celebrations are continuing for 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia, marking the bicentenary of the first ‘official’ Catholic school opened in Parramatta in October 1820.

A National Mass will be celebrated next week simultaneously across Australia on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians on Monday 24 May 2021 to mark the occasion.

The Perth Catholic Community will celebrate Mass with Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB at St Mary’s Cathedral on Monday 24 May at 9:45am.

National Catholic Education Executive Director Jacinta Collins said the National Mass would be a highlight of the bicentenary year.

“As a faith community, our National Mass to celebrate 200 years of Catholic education holds significant meaning, particularly on the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians – the Patroness of Australia,” Ms Collins said.

“The scale of Catholic education in Australia is unique in the world, serving over 777,000 students and employing over 100,000 staff.

“We are blessed to have the support of governments and our families that ensures we can make a Catholic education accessible to families in every major town and city, and in many regional, rural and remote parts of Australia,” she said.

Masses will be held with school representation in most Cathedrals across Australia, as well as a number of individual parishes and schools.

Live streaming of some Masses will also be available for school communities who cannot attend a live Mass including live from: St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney from 10:15am AEST via

“While the current COVID environment prohibits a large-scale Mass like World Youth Day in Sydney, we hope that all members of our school communities and families will join together in the joyous liturgical celebration at a Cathedral or parish Mass, or via the live streaming options available,” Ms Collins said.

Perth Bishop Don Sproxton, left, CEWA Executive Director, Dr Debra Sayce, centre, and Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB speak with students at the 2019 LifeLink forum. Photo: Ron Tan.


The bicentenary commemorates the anniversary of the first official Catholic school in Australia, founded in October 1820 by Irish Catholic priest Fr John Therry. The school, which Catholic historians believe was located on Hunter Street in Parramatta, taught 31 students. This school was transferred to the site of the present St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1837 and was entrusted to the care of the Marist Brothers in 1875. Parramatta Marist High School, now located in Westmead and St Patrick’s Primary, Parramatta, trace their origins back to this first school.

For more than 200 years Catholic schools have educated millions of young people and today educate one in five Australian students.

Information on the live streaming of other Masses will be available via