Two Centuries of Catholic Experience in Australia


Rev. Dr Christopher Dowd OP Winter Intensive, 2020
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Online: commencing 29 June over three weeks
First session begins 9.30am: further details will be provided
Examination information to be advised
This unit explores the history of the Catholic Church in Australia in the following topics: earliest contact with Terra Australis via European exploration in the 16th‒18th centuries; the first permanent, originally lay led community in Sydney; Catholic personalities, spiritual styles and cultures; the foundation of the episcopal hierarchy in 1842 and its extension across the continent; key 19th century issues of the clash of visions between the English-led Benedictines and the Irish secular clergy, the role of Roman decision-making in the resolution of these conflicts and the education question; Catholic participation in 20th century debates surrounding labour controversies, war, conscription, Irish nationalism, the depression and communism; the Church’s relationship with non-Catholic traditions, first sectarianism and then ecumenism; the transformation of the social face of Catholicism under the impact of the Second Vatican Council, post-world war two mass migration and secularisation.

Census Date

Tuesday 28 July 




intensive mode: 9.30am – 4.30pm


  • one 1,000-word seminar paper 20%
  • one 5,000-word essay 50%
  • one 1-hour documents examination (1,000 words) 30%


  • Ayres, Philip. Prince of the Church: Patrick Francis Moran 1830 – 1911. Ringwood: Miegunyah, 2007.
  • Campion, Edmund. Australia’s Catholics: The Contribution of Catholics to the Development of Australian Society. Ringwood: Penguin Books, 1988.
  • Dowd, Christopher. Rome in Australia: The Papacy and Conflict in the Australian Catholic Missions, 1834-1884. 2 vols. Study in the History of Christian Traditions. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
  • Duncan, Bruce F. Crusade or Conspiracy? Catholics and the anti-Communist Struggle in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2001.
  • Massam, Katharine. Sacred Threads: Catholic Spirituality in Australia, 1922 – 1962. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1996.
  • Niall, Brenda. Mannix. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2015.
  • O’Donoghue, Frances. The Bishop of Botany Bay: The Life of John Bede Polding: Australia’s First Catholic Archbishop. London: Angus & Robertson, 1982.
  • O’Farrell, Patrick. The Catholic Church and Community: An Australian History. 3rd ed. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1992.
  • Turner, Naomi. Catholics in Australia: A Social History. 2 vols. North Blackburn: Collins Dove, 1992.