The first Catholics to live in Australia arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. They were mostly Irish convicts, together with a few Royal Marines. One-tenth of all convicts transported to Australia were Catholic, and half of these were born in Ireland. For up to date information, visit the ACBC's Pastoral Research Office.
Catholics form a spiritual community which can these days be real - in church, parishes, and dicoceses. This community can also be virtual, linked by social media. It is body made up of many different people, united by a common bond of enduring love. One of the best ways of describing the Catholic Church is that it is like a family.
There are 33 dioceses in Australia (28 of them territorial divisions), four dioceses of Eastern Catholic Churches and one military diocese, for the pastoral care of Catholic members of the Australian Defence Forces and their families. The 2009-10 Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia lists 1349 parishes, including 34 belonging to Eastern Catholic Churches. To find your nearest parish, visit the ACBC's web page here.
How many Catholics are there in Australia?
According to the 2011 Australian Census, Catholics made up just over a quarter (25.3 per cent) of the Australian population: there were 5,439,268 Catholics in a total Australian population of 21,507,719. In the five years between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses, the number of Catholics increased by over 312,000, or 6.1 per cent.
(Source, ACBC's Pastoral Research Office's A Profile of the Catholic Community in Australia.)
The 2013-14 Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia records 5058 religious sisters, 847 religious brothers and 1,174 religious priests. Among more than 100 congregations of women religious were the Josephite Sisters, Sisters of Mercy and Sisters of Charity. There were five congregations of brothers, including the Christian Brothers, Marist Brothers and De La Salle Brothers. Priestly orders included the Jesuits, Augustinians, Dominicans and more.