Celebrating our heritage in Queensland

​​​​​Our heritage

Our rich heritage stretches back to before the formation of our great state. In 1845, Catholic education in Queensland began on ​the site of what is now Uptown (formerly Myer Centre) in Queen Street, Brisbane​.

The first parish priest of Brisbane town, Father James Hanly, employed lay people, Mary and Michael Bourke to teach 56 students in our state's first Catholic school.

The first Catholic Mass was celebrated only two years earlier by Sydney's Archbishop Polding, in a temporary chapel in what is now Elizabeth Street.

The Diocese of Brisbane started with the colony of Queensland in 1859, covering the entire state, a vast diocese with few people. The first bishop, James Quinn, organised an immigration scheme that brought thousands of Irish, establishing the style of the Church for a century.

While some Catholics were well off, the majority were not. Church policy was to raise their economic and social status in a Catholic atmosphere and education was the means.

Today's Catholic schools

There are now more than 300 Catholic schools in Queensland. including 146 primary, secondary,​​ and Prep-to-Year-12 schools in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

While the first school was opened to teach poor Irish Catholics, today, our students come from all cultures, all faiths, and all backgrounds.

We flourished under the faith and steely fortitude of the many religious orders who opened so many Catholic schools. Without them, our Archdiocesan Catholic schools would not be what they are today – faith-filled learning communities creating a better future.


Foundation years of Brisbane Catholic Education schools