Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Diocese in Queensland, Australia. In 1862 Father Duhig visited the infant settlement on the banks of the Fitzroy River and celebrated the first Mass there. Father Scully came from Brisbane to attend to the spiritual needs of the little congregation and in 1863 Dean Murlay was appointed first resident pastor of Rockhampton, his parish extending as far north as Cooktown and south to Maryborough. He built the first Catholic church in Rockhampton, a wooden edifice still standing, and for many years was the only priest to look after the Catholics scattered over the vast territory. A foundation of the Sisters of Mercy from All-Hallows Convent, Brisbane, was established in 1873, and Sister Mary de Sales Gorry, the first Queensland-born nun, was appointed Superioress. Rockhampton remained part of the Diocese of Brisbane until 1882. In 1876 the Holy See erected the northern portion of the colony into a pro-vicariate, and in 1882 made Rockhampton a see with a territory of some 350,000 square miles. Right Rev. Dr. Cani, a native of the papal states, who had had a distinguished scholastic career at Rome, and former pro-vicar Apostolic of North Queensland, was appointed first bishop of the new diocese. Bishop Cani, who was then administering the diocese of Brisbane, was consecrated by Archbishop Vaughan in St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 21 May, 1882, and was installed in his temporary cathedral at Rockhampton on 11 June following.

In the new diocese there were about 10,000 Catholics 6 or 7 priests, 8 Catholic schools, and 1 orphanage. Bishop Cani added to the small number of priests, purchased sites for new churches, and acquired 3000 acres of fertile land near Rockhampton for a central orphanage which he had built and placed under the care of the Sisters of Mercy. His great work was the erection of St. Joseph's Cathedral, a magnificent stone edifice which he did not live to see dedicated. After a strenuous episcopate of sixteen years Dr. Cani died, 3 March, 1898. His great virtues were recognized even by those outside the Church. Humility and simplicity of life, love of the poor and orphans were his special characteristics. He was succeeded in Rockhampton by Right Rev. Dr. Higgins, a native of Co. Meath, Ireland, and now Bishop of Ballarat. Dr. Higgins studied in Maynooth, was subsequently president of the Diocesan seminary at Navan, and in 1888 was chosen auxiliary bishop to the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney with the title of titular bishop of Antifelle. He had zealously laboured in the Archdiocese of Sydney for over ten years, when appointed to Rockhampton. He traversed his new diocese from end to end, gauged its wants, attracted priests to his aid, placed students for the mission in various ecclesiastical colleges, introduced new religious teaching orders, built and dedicated churches, convents, and schools in several centres, bringing the blessings of religion and Christian education to the children of the backblocks.

On 15 October, 1899, the beautiful new cathedral was dedicated by the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney assisted by several other distinguished Australian prelates in the presence of a great concourse of people. The remains of Dr. Cani were transferred thither. Dr. Higgins visited Rome and Ireland in 1904, and returned with renewed energy to carry on his great work. On the death of Dr. Moore, Bishop of Ballarat, Victoria, he was translated to that important See, where he has ever since laboured with characteristic zeal and devotedness. The present Bishop of Rockhampton is Right Rev. Dr. James Duhig, born at Broadford, Co. Limerick, Ireland, 1870. Dr. Duhig emigrated from Ireland with his family at the age of thirteen, studied with the Christian Brothers at Brisbane and at the Irish College, Rome, was ordained priest, 19 Sept., 1896, and, returning to Queensland in the following year, was appointed to a curacy in the parish of Ipswich. In 1905 he was appointed administrator of St. Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane, and received the briefs of his appointment to the See of Rockhampton. At present (1911) there are in the Diocese of Rockhampton: about 28,000 Catholics ; 19 missions or districts; 30 priests (4 of whom belong to the Marist congregation, who have 1 house in the diocese ); 12 Christian Brothers ; 150 nuns ; and 26 Catholic schools, attended by about 5000 children.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:1-9
1 Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 13-14
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2016 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman ... Read More