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Timeline of St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Catholic Church in Sydney

1788
The "First Fleet" arrives and Sydney is founded as a British convict settlement. Catholics are among the convicts (Irish decent) and soldiers. No Catholic priests arrived with the First Fleet which meant that the Catholics had to attend Church of England services.
1800
Convict priest: Fr. James Dixon arrives in Australia; however he was not granted permission to celebrate Mass.
1803
Governor Philip King grants Fr. Dixon permission to celebrate Mass 3 times a month within the colony (Sydney, Parramatta and Hawkesbury). First government sanctioned Mass
15th May.
1804
Gov. King rescinds permission for Fr. Dixon to celebrate Mass after the Vinegar Hill Uprising.
1817
Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn arrives in Australia, no permission granted to celebrate Mass.
1820
After a Commission regarding the need for Catholic Priests to be present in the colony, the first official Catholic Chaplains Fr John Therry and Fr Philip Conolly arrive on May 3. Therry asks for permission for land to build a church/chapel at Wynyard.
1821
The foundation stone of the first St Mary's Chapel is laid by Gov. Macquarie and blessed by Fr Therry. The site of the chapel is near the convict barracks, on the edge of the town. It will be a stone building in a naive gothic style.
1835
Sydney's first bishop, John Bede Polding OSB, arrives on September 13, as Vicar Apostolic of New Holland. St Mary’s Chapel becomes his Cathedral.
1842
Polding becomes first Archbishop of Sydney.
1851
Work on extensions to the Cathedral commences, to designs by A W N Pugin, the celebrated English architect and promoter of a more correct gothic style.
1865
The first St Mary’s Cathedral is ruined by fire on the evening of June 29.
1868
The foundation stone of a new Cathedral is blessed by Archbishop Polding. The new Cathedral is to be an outstanding example of gothic revival architecture, designed by William Wilkinson Wardell.
1869
Temporary wooden Church which replaced the Cathedral burns down
1877
Roger Bede Vaughan OSB becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
1882
The incomplete northern section of the new Cathedral is opened and dedicated.
1885
Patrick Francis Moran becomes third Archbishop of Sydney, and is soon created Australia's first Cardinal.
1900
The opened section and central tower are completed and dedicated.
1905
Free of debt, the Cathedral is solemnly consecrated.
1911
Archbishop Michael Kelly succeeds Cardinal Moran.
1928
Construction of the nave is completed, and Archbishop Kelly opens the almost-complete Cathedral on September 2nd. (The total cost of construction amounted to approximately 700,000 over a period of 60 years.)
1930
Pope Pius XI bestows on the Cathedral the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica.
1940
Bishop Norman Thomas Gilroy becomes first Australian-born Archbishop of Sydney succeeding Archbishop Kelly. Gilroy became first Australian-born Cardinal in 1946.
1970
Pope Paul VI visits Sydney, celebrating Mass in the Cathedral.
1971
Bishop James Freeman succeeds Cardinal Gilroy as the sixth Archbishop of Sydney, becoming Cardinal in 1973.
1983
Cardinal Freeman retires and Archbishop Edward Bede Clancy is appointed Archbishop of Sydney, being created Cardinal in 1988.
1986 & 1995
Pope John Paul II visits St Mary’s Cathedral.
1998 - 2000
The Spires, designed by Wardell, are built.
2001
St Mary's is the location for the celebration of the Ninth World Day of the Sick.
2001
Cardinal Clancy retires and Archbishop George Pell is appointed the eighth Archbishop of Sydney, becoming Cardinal in October 2003.
2008
Pope Benedict XVI visits St Mary's Cathedral and dedicates the new Altar.
2010
Blessed Mary MacKillop is canonised in Rome and given the title of St Mary of the Cross. Cardinal Pell unveils a statue of St Mary of the Cross at the Hyde Park entrance of St Mary's Cathedral. St. Mary MacKillop also has a statue at Our Lady’s Chapel.
2014
February 24th
Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as the first ever Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican, thus vacating the seat of Sydney. Bishop Anthony Fisher is appointed as the ninth Archbishop of Sydney in September.
2016
Mother Teresa canonised as a Saint by Pope Francis. Her statue is located at Our Lady’s Chapel with other prominent female saints.