Challenges and Change Faced by Early Australian Catholics

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Challenges and Change Faced by Early Australian Catholics: 1. Convicts and Free Settlers: 1788

Challenges and Change Faced by Early Australian Catholics: 1. Convicts and Free Settlers: 1788 -1800

Irish Convicts 30% of the 756 convicts to arrive on the first fleet in

Irish Convicts 30% of the 756 convicts to arrive on the first fleet in 1788 were baptised Catholics. They were mainly Irish criminals who had little or no contact with the Catholic faith or interest in religion. Between 1787 and 1852, more than 150, 000 convicts were transported to eastern Australia with around 50, 000 prisoners being of Irish origin…

Challenges and Changes In 1788, Governor Phillip ordered all convicts to attend Sunday Church

Challenges and Changes In 1788, Governor Phillip ordered all convicts to attend Sunday Church services, which were conducted by the Anglican Minister, Rev Richard Johnston. Catholic convicts refused to attend and were flogged if they continued to refuse to go. Some convicts burned down the first church built in the colony.

Challenges and Changes On their deathbeds, many Catholic convicts asked for a priest to

Challenges and Changes On their deathbeds, many Catholic convicts asked for a priest to give them the sacraments but the governor continued to refuse requests for a Catholic chaplain in the colony.

Challenges and Change By 1796 there were 800 Catholics in NSW. 25% of all

Challenges and Change By 1796 there were 800 Catholics in NSW. 25% of all convicts were Irish. Regular shipping captains noted the only sign of religion in NSW were the Irish praying.

Challenge and Change As a Penal colony, any mission to NSW had to have

Challenge and Change As a Penal colony, any mission to NSW had to have the permission of British authorities and the governor. In 1792 five lay Catholics petitioned Governor Phillip for appointment of a Catholic priest The early governors refused requests for Catholic clergy to minister publicly to Catholic convicts and free settlers due to suspicion of and antagonism towards the Irish. Governor Phillip

Facing the Challenge The only way Catholics could keep up their faith was to

Facing the Challenge The only way Catholics could keep up their faith was to say their traditional prayers such as the Rosary. Sometimes they gathered in each others’ homes on a Sunday to say some of the prayers of the Mass. Catholic families may have baptised their children themselves, as there were no priests to do it.

Summary 1788 -1800: Early English, Irish and Scottish Catholics, convicts and free settlers faced

Summary 1788 -1800: Early English, Irish and Scottish Catholics, convicts and free settlers faced the following challenges: There were no Catholic priests, churches or services in the Penal Colony of NSW between 1788 and 1800. Catholic convicts were forced to attend Anglican services and if they refused, they were flogged. Appeals to the Governor and British authorities for Catholic priests were ignored or refused. The English and Australian authorities were very suspicious of Irish Catholics because they feared they would rebel and try to overthrow authority in the new colony, so Catholics were not allowed to gather for prayer in large groups. While the setting had changed from Ireland to Australia, the old suspicion and fear between Irish and English over politics and religion remained the same.