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The vast territories formerly known as New Holland and Van Dieman's Island and since 1900 as The Commonwealth of Australia were erected to the Vicariate Apostolic of New Holland in 1834. John Bede Polding, a Benedictine, was vicar Apostolic. He was consecrated bishop in London on 29 June, 1834. Dr. Polding visited Rome in 1841-2, and at his suggestion new sees were erected in Hobart and Adelaide. A few years later Melbourne and Brisbane were also detached from the archdiocese. In New South Wales dioceses were erected at Maitland, Goulburn, Bathurst, Armidale, Lismore, and Wilcannia ; these form at present the suffragan sees of Sydney, which was erected into an archdiocese on 15 February, 1842. The archdiocese stretches along the Pacific coast from the Red Head on the north to Cape Howe on the south, and inland to the Dividing Range. When Dr. Polding landed at Sydney there were only four priests in the district; Father Ullathorne, an English Benedictine, who had come to Australia in 1833, was vicar general, assisted by Fathers Therry, McEnroe, and Dowling, three Irish priests, the last-named a Dominican. The official census of 1833 gave the population of the colony as 60, 794, the Protestants of all denominations being 43,095, and the Catholics 17, 283. The government allowance in the same year for the maintenance of the Catholic Church was $4000, whereas the Church of England, exclusive of its rich land endowments, was assigned the sum of $95,355. There were ten Catholic schools receiving about $2000 from the Government, whilst the Protestant schools were allowed $28,680, in addition to a grant of $16,500 for the building of the Protestant King's School at Parramatta. In 1836, Dr. Ullathorne sailed for England and Ireland to secure priests and nuns for the increasing demands of the diocese. He availed himself of this opportunity to publish a pamphlet setting forth the sad condition of the convicts, and the maladministration of affairs in official quarters. Seventy-five thousand copies of this pamphlet were circulated in England and throughout the Continent, and its effect was seen in the altered conditions of administration soon after introduced. His mission was successful, and in 1841 Dr.. Polding was enabled to report to Propaganda that the diocese had 24 priests, a community of nuns, 9 churches completed and 6 others in the course of erection, with several small chapels and 31 schools.

During a visit to Rome in 1846-47, Dr. Polding secured the appointment of Dr. Davis, O. S. B., titular bishop of Maitland, as his co-adjutor bishop. He, however, died in Sydney in 1854. In 1873, Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan was appointed co-adjutor, and he succeeded Dr. Polding on 16 March, 1877. He was remarkable for his eloquence, and upheld with great vigour the Catholic cause in the matter of religious education. On 19 April, 1883, he sailed for England via San Francisco, but died two days after his arrival in Liverpool (18 August). Patrick Francis Moran (see below), Bishop of Ossory, Ireland, was appointed to the vacant see, his Brief dated 21 March, 1884. Dr. Higgins was appointed auxiliary bishop in 1888, and in 1899 was translated to the see of Rockhampton in Queensland. Most Rev. Michael Kelly, titular archbishop of Acrida, was appointed co-adjutor in 1901. The cathedral under the invocation of Our Lady Help of Christians, begun as far back as 1820 by Father Therry and completed by Archbishop Polding, was destroyed by fire on 29 June, 1865. It was rebuilt according to plans by Wardell, and consecrated by Archbishop Vaughan on 8 September, 1882. Archbishop Moran landed at Sydney on 8 September, 1884. The following year he was summoned to Rome to be promoted to the cardinalate. He convened at presided at three plenary synods (1885, 1895, 1905), and also presided at the Catholic congresses held in 1900, 1904, and 1909. Conferences of the clergy and diocesan synods have been held every year. St. Patrick's Ecclesiastical College, for the secular clergy, was erected at Manly on a government grant of eighty acres; the foundations were blessed during the plenary synod of 1885, and dedicated in 1888. It was built and fully equipped at the sole expense of Cardinal Moran, who wished it to be his gift to the Australian Church, as it was intended not for Sydney alone but for all the Australian dioceses. It has in the present year (1911), eighty students, all Australians, and has since its opening furnished one hundred and thirty priests to the Australian mission. A preparatory ecclesiastical college at Springwood, in the Blue mountains, was opened last year. It is erected on a site of six hundred acres, the purchase of the land and the erection of the building being a further gift of the cardinal to the diocese. There are two Catholic weekly papers, "The Catholic Press" and "The Freeman's Journal"; there is also a quarterly "Australasian Catholic Record", besides, some minor month;ly publications. The Catholic Club, organized in 1810, has a considerable enrollment.

When the Dr. Polding was appointed vicar Apostolic, several English Benedictines volunteered for the Australian Mission. Some years later, at Dr. Polding's petition, St. Mary's was declared a Benedictine cathedral, the adjoining rectory was raised to the dignity of a Benedictine priory, and it was hoped by the archbishop that the whole diocese would be efficiently served by an Anglo-Australian Benedictine community. This, however, was soon found to be impracticable. From the first many difficulties beset the Benedictine order in Sydney. The community was finally dissolved by Archbishop Vaughan, himself a Benedictine, and missions were assigned to the priests in the ranks of the secular clergy. The religious orders of men are at present represented by the Marist Fathers, who entered on their missionary work in 1837, the Jesuits, Franciscans, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Vincencians, Passionists, Missionaries of the Divine Word, and Capuchins. In 1883 the members of the religious orders numbered 41; at present they are 79. The Irish Congregation of the Sisters of Charity was the first of the orders of nuns to arrive (1 January, 1839) in Australia. For some years their special care was devoted to the female convicts. Later they engaged in the work of education, took charge of St. Vincent's Hospital, the first Catholic hospital in Australia, and visited the prisons. The congregation now numbers in Australia 320 nuns (in Sydney 235). The Benedictine Nuns arrived in Australia in 1849, and at their monastery of Subiaco devote themselves to the higher branches of education. The Good Samaritans, a purely Australia order instituted in Sydney in 1857, are spread through other diocese and number in Sydney 220. The Sisters of St. Joseph are also an Australian institute spread through several diocese, numbering in Sydney 255. Other religious orders of nuns are the Sisters of Mercy, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Poor Claires, Carmelites, Nursing Sisters of the Little Company of Mary , Little Sisters of the Poor , Sisters of St. Brigid, Dominican Nuns, Institute of the Blessed Virgin of Loretto , Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and Marists. At the close of Archbishop Vaughan's episcopate, the number of nuns in the diocese was 252; at present (1911) they number 1400. St. John's College is associated with the Sydney University. The Jesuits have the flourishing College of St. Ignatius at Riverview, and the High School of St. Aloysius at Milson's point. The Marist Brothers have a novitiate besides the College of St. Joseph, the High School at Darlinghurst, and several parochial schools. The Christian Brothers from Ireland were the first teaching religious order to come to Australia. Three brothers accompanied Dr. Polding to Sydney in 1843, and within a few months they had three schools ; sufficient means for their support were lacking and they returned to Ireland in 1844. They returned to Sydney in 1877, and now have a novitiate, two flourishing high schools, and eight parochial schools. The Patrician Brothers have also a flourishing college and some parochial schools. The total number of teaching Brothers at the close of Dr. Vaughan's episcopate was 78; they now number 220.

In 1883 there were 10,936 children in the schools of the diocese ; there are at present 25,000. Official returns published last year (1910) in connection with the cardinal's silver jubilee set forth that during those twenty-five years of his administration 160 churches had been erected or enlarged and about as many schools ; 45 presbyteries had been provided, and 34 new parochial districts organized. In 1855 there was only one Catholic orphanage and that was maintained by the Government. In 1888 the Government aid was withdrawn and the orphanage suppressed. Since then 9 orphanages have been established and 2 Catholic industrial schools. In 1885, there was only one Catholic hospital, St. Vincent's; it has since been considerably enlarged, and five other hospitals have been built. A Home for the Aged Poor has also been established, and several other charitable institutions.

In 1911 the Archdiocese of Sydney contained: 175,000 Catholics ; churches, 189; districts, 75; priests, secular, 120, regular, 79; religious men, 220, women, 1374; seminaries, 3; colleges, 7; boarding schools (girls) 25; superior days schools (boys), 4; (girls), 47; primary schools,ú poor schools, (2); night schools (girls), 2; (boys), 1; orphanages, 7; industrial schools, 3; total number of pupils in Catholic schools, 25,000; hospitals, 8; Hospice for the Dying, 1; Foundling Hospital, 1; Home for the Aged Poor, 1; Home of the Blind, 1; Magdalen Retreats, 2; Servants' Home, 1; Home for Mental Invalids, 1; St. Charles' Villa for Aged and Infirm Priests, 1.

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