Catholic schools celebrate 200 years

May 19, 2021 BY

Bicentenary: St Patrick's Primary and Parramatta Marist High schools have links to Australia's first official Catholic school. Photo: NATIONAL CATHOLIC EDUCATION COMMISSION

AUSTRALIAN Catholic education celebrates its bicentenary in 2021, including Catholic Education Week.

Today, there are 1751 Catholic schools educating 768,000 students and employing 98,000 staff.

Nearly 40 per cent of Catholic schools are located outside of metropolitan cities in regional, rural and remote communities.

The start of the celebrations for the 200-year milestone was marked in March with a virtual launch streamed to Catholic school communities across Australia.

National Catholic Education Commission executive director Jacinta Collins said the celebrations – which have the theme “Faith in the Future” – recognised the enormous contribution of Catholic schools in Australia.

“Over 200 years Catholic schools have educated millions of Australian students,” she said.

“Australian Catholic schools have a long and proud tradition of delivering high-quality, faith-based education.

“The bicentenary is an opportunity to celebrate those who have served in Catholic education since its earliest days; the contribution of religious institutes, clergy and lay people in the foundation of schools in cities, rural and remote parts of Australia; and the continuity of this mission with the leaders, staff, families and the wider church community today.

“We look forward with great hope and faith in the future of Catholic schools by continuing to respond to our mission of meeting the educational and spiritual needs of young people and our communities.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher, chair of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education, said Catholic families, teachers and students should today be very proud of the 200 years of Catholic education.

“It is an extraordinary achievement and gives us great hope for the future, that we will continue to make this major contribution to the social capital of this country and to the individual development of every child that is entrusted to us,” he said.

Catholic School Parents Australia chair Karl Rodrigues said 200 years was cause to pause and reflect on what parents and carers valued in being able to get access to a Catholic education for their children.

“In many ways we are ensuring through our support and partnership that our Catholic schools will continue to be here for all Australians across another 200 years and beyond,” Mr Rodrigues said.

“CSPA enthusiastically represents and advocates for parents and carers with children in all Catholic schools.

“We can never take our Catholic schools for granted.”

Coming events include a national mass on Monday, May 24. For more information on the bicentennial celebrations, head to 200years.catholic.edu.au.

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