At first all education was provided at the expense of the State. All Government and Private schools were funded by the taxes of the people. For the Catholic Bishops of the infant Church community of New South Wales, the Catholic schools were the nurseries of the Church. The Government school system was seen as 'seed-plots of future immorality'. While there were a few Religious Congregations in the young colony to assist with the education of Catholic children, most teachers in Church schools were lay people. Their wages were paid by the Government.
The history of the early colony reveals many 'clashes' between the Irish and British. Education was to be one of the key points of conflict. In 1879 the New South Wales Government withdrew all financial support from all schools outside the Government system. The Bishops were determined to maintain a Catholic school system. Since they no longer had the finances to pay lay teachers, they began to appeal to Religious Congregations around the world to send members of their Congregations to run and teach in their schools.
In 1880 Bishop Murray of Maitland, and in 1882 Bishop Quinn of Bathurst and Bishop Lanigan of Goulburn (all of them rural areas in New South Wales) had been in touch with the Patrician Brothers in Ireland. A sponsorship scheme was set in place whereby these Bishops would pay for the training, transport, and accommodation of Brothers being prepared for the New South Wales missions.
The first Patrician Brothers arrived in Australia on the 7th of March, 1883. They began teaching in Bishop Murray's school on the 9th of April.
For the remainder of the 19th century the Brothers mainly worked at setting up schools in the country areas surrounding Sydney: Maitland, Goulburn, Bathurst, Redfern (Sydney), Dubbo, Armidale, Albury, Wagga Wagga, Forest Lodge (Sydney), Ryde (Sydney), and Orange. By 1894 Ireland had sent thirty-nine Brothers to work in Australia.
The road was not a smooth one. There had been a significant number of deaths of the Brothers, some through illnesses they had brought with them, others through unfortunate misadventures. Also, there were several conflicts with Bishops concerning issues of control and authority over the Brothers.
By the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century, the Brothers had withdrawn from all the country schools. With so few Brothers and with country schools isolating the Brothers from each other, it was decided to concentrate on setting up schools in the working class areas of Sydney: Waterloo, Wahroonga (formation house), Granville, Blacktown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Sefton, Narellan (1963, formation house).
Over the past twenty years the Brothers in Australia have been looking closely at their ministry. The Congregation was founded to minister to the educational needs of the children of the poor. The Brothers came to Australia to take over Catholic schools from lay teachers who could no longer be financed. In the late 1990's that apparent need was no longer there. We are being called to discern where the poor are today, and therefore where we are being called by the Spirit. Today not all the Brothers are involved in education. We have Brothers involved in such areas as parish ministry, hospital chaplain ministry, and CEO administration.
Present Patrician Locations in Australia
6. The Entrance
7. Sydney (capital of New South Wales)
The population of the Sydney metropolitan district is 4.6 million and covers an area of 12000 square kilometres. The straight-line distance from Bradbury (5) to The Entrance (6) is 102 kilometres.
First school in Australia 1883 ~ Holy Cross 1913 ~ Blacktown Pats 1983 ~ Fairfield Pats St Pats Day 2011
Retreat 1909 ~ Brothers in formation in 1959 ~ 2010 Jubilarians