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Revisit Australia’s Catholic history all the way back to 1788

History: Irish Catholics out in parade for St Patrick’s Day in 1932.< [/caption]

TIME travel may not be possible, but the Australian Catholic Historical Society is using the Internet to launch Catholics back to the moment Catholicism first arrived Down Under.

With the global health crisis impacting the ACHS’s decades tradition of recounting Australian Catholic history, the society has published a fascinating collection of the history of the Catholic community in Australia on their website.

The online library includes a timeline with links that stretches back to 1788 – the year the first Mass was celebrated in Terra Australis – newsreel footage dating back 1932 when thousands marched through Melbourne for St Patrick’s Day, and hours worth of links to online historical accounts of the Catholic Church, including video, podcast, journals and other internet entries.

Readers can access snippets of the rich heritage of Catholic architecture, art, drama and music, including a 1925 silent film of Around the Boree Log by renowned Australian poet John O’Brien, as well as links to the depth of Catholic contributions to philosophy, theology, literature and the theory of society.

There are also pages related to Catholics charities, Catholic involvement with indigenous Australians, women in the Australian Church, Irish Catholics, and the sexual abuse crisis.

ACHS vice-president Professor James Franklin the resources provided “a wealth of links for further browsing” on a multitude of topics.

“Anyone, from school student to leisured retiree, can quickly gain an insight into any aspect of the rich Catholic heritage of our country,” he said.

“It is ideal reading for a lockdown.”

Founded in 1940, the ACHS has a long tradition documenting and discussing the history of Catholicism in Australia, predominantly in the Archdiocese of Sydney, but the global health crisis has now forced the society to take its mission online.

The society’s president, Dr John Carmody, said understanding the history of the Catholic Church in Australia was important for all Catholics.

“For that reason, we have recently refurbished our website and diversified its contents,” Dr Carmody said.

“It is an important and enduring part of our mission that, thereby, we will enthuse a new and younger generation about the value and pleasure of our history.

“We are what our history has made us: we cannot understand any aspect of ourselves without understanding our history and that understanding is important for us all.”

Queensland Catholic history has also become digital with the inclusion of nearly 50,000 pages of the former rival to The Catholic Leader between 1911 and 1938 on Trove.

According to the State Library of Queensland, The Catholic Advocate, which was considered “the No. 1 Catholic journal” in Queensland between 1911 and 1930, is being digitised to grow the knowledge base of the Australian Catholic Church in the early 20th Century.

Owned by Hibernian Newspaper Co. Ltd to provide a voice for Irish Catholics, the Catholic Advocate recorded “a progressive, community-minded and proud congregation who worked tirelessly for the betterment of all people” following the devastation of the First World War.

To visit the collection by the Australian Catholic Historical Society, visit their website

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