Roman Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Dioecesis Maitlandensis-Novocastrensis
Country Australia
Territory Hunter and Mid North Coast regions of New South Wales
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Sydney
Coordinates 32°55′24″S 151°45′15″E / 32.92333°S 151.75417°E / -32.92333; 151.75417
Area 33,757 km2 (13,034 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2004)
Increase 602,693
Increase 147,602 (Increase 24.5%)
Parishes 50
Schools 56 (2015)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 25 June 1847 as the Diocese of Maitland
Cathedral Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop William Wright
Metropolitan Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is a suffragan Latin Rite diocese of the Archdiocese of Sydney, established in 1847, initially as the Diocese of Maitland and changed to the current name in 1995. The diocese covers the Hunter and Mid North Coast regions of New South Wales in Australia.


Prior to the establishment of the diocese, the Hunter Region was under the administration of the Sydney Archdiocese. The Church defines a diocese as 'a portion of the people of God, which is entrusted to a bishop' or, as 'a community of Christ's faithful in communion of faith and sacraments with their bishop.' The three most notable priests assigned to the Hunter Region, Therry, Dowling & Lynch strived to build churches, schools and establish Catholic parishes.[1] Six Catholic parishes established were East Maitland 1835 (the first Catholic church built north of Sydney was the first St Joseph’s Church in 1835), Newcastle 1838, West Maitland 1841, Singleton 1845, Taree 1846, Raymond Terrace 1852.

During 1840 and 1845 Archbishop Bede Polding visited the whole Hunter Valley and laid foundation stones for churches at Wollombi and St John’s at Campbell’s Hill. The foundation stone was moved to West Maitland where St John the Baptist Church opened in 1846.

By Papal Brief dated 27 May 1847, the Titular See of East Maitland was created with Most Reverend Charles Henry Davis nominated as Bishop. Bishop Davis was also the Auxiliary Bishop to the Archbishop of Sydney and lived in Sydney, never visiting his Titular See in East Maitland, therefore the Titular See of East Maitland remained under the administration of the Archdiocese of Sydney until Most Reverend James Murray was nominated Bishop of Maitland in 1865, taking possession of St John the Baptist Church West Maitland as his Cathedral on 1 November 1866.

From 1866 the diocese extended to include Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Gunnedah, Walgett and Coonamble. In 1887 the Diocese of Maitland reduced in size by exclusion of Coonamble, Gunnedah and Tamworth districts.

In 1933, after servicing the diocese for 87 years, the old cathedral building became inadequate for the needs of the parish and the diocese. In July 1933, Bishop Edmund Gleeson CSsR, officially announced that the Catholic Hall in Maitland would be converted to a Pro-Cathedral suitable as a place of worship. On 26 November 1933 the Catholic Hall was opened as the Pro-Cathedral and St John's officially closed.

In 1966 boundaries were again altered to exclude Kendall parish to Lismore but include the parishes of Belmont, Swansea, Toronto, Booragul, Teralba, which is the present boundaries of the diocese.

In 1989 the Pro-Cathedral suffered damage as a result of an earthquake and was closed. Discussions were then held and it was decided to convert the Pro-Cathedral to its former use as a hall and to re-open St John's as a Chapel for the Central Maitland area. On 24 June 1994 Bishop Leo Clarke conducted the ceremony of the Dedication of a Church and thus St John's became a Chapel for the area. The 1989 earthquake was also a catalyst to consolidate the diocesan administration offices on one site. This was achieved in 1995 by purchasing the Sisters of Mercy Convent at Hamilton and the former Sacred Heart Parish Primary School, Hamilton.

By Papal Brief dated 14 June 1995, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle was created and on 16 July 1995, the Sacred Heart Church in Hamilton became the Sacred Heart Cathedral for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.[2]


The following individuals have been elected as Roman Catholic Bishop of Maitland:[3]

Order Name Date installed Term ended Term of office Reason for term end
1 Charles Henry Davis, OSB 24 September 1846 17 May 1854 8 years, 235 days Died in office
2 James Murray 1865 9 July 1909 44 years, 189 days Died in office
3 Patrick Dwyer 9 July 1909 28 March 1931 21 years, 262 days Died in office
4 Edmund John Aloysius Gleeson, CSSR 28 March 1931 4 March 1956 24 years, 342 days Died in office
5 John Thomas Toohey 4 March 1956 24 September 1975 19 years, 204 days Died in office
6 Leo Morris Clarke 10 April 1976 3 November 1995 19 years, 207 days Retired and appointed Bishop Emeritus of Maitland-Newcastle

The following individuals have been elected as Roman Catholic Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle:[3]

Order Name Date installed Term ended Term of office Reason for term end
1 Michael Malone 3 November 1995 4 April 2011 15 years, 152 days Following a 2009 request by Malone for early retirement due to the impact of the sex abuse scandal, which was rejected by the Vatican,[4] Malone resigned in 2011
2 William Wright 4 April 2011 present 6 years, 22 days n/a


Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton is a beautiful and welcoming place of worship which acts as both the Hamilton Parish church and the Cathedral for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral building was opened in 1930 as the parish church of Hamilton and was consecrated by Bishop Edmund Gleeson in 1941, before becoming Sacred Heart Cathedral on 16 July 1995.

Very much a church of the people, the Sacred Heart Church's foundations were dug with the physical aid of parishioners. The church was built virtually, brick by brick, on the dream of Monsignor Victor Francis Peters and through the generosity of parishioners who, in the midst of the Great Depression, bought bricks for an average of twopence each. A donation of ten pounds was the norm and in total, 700,000 bricks were used.

Monsignor Peters was influenced by the architecture of the Cathedral in Thurles in Ireland; the Cathedral Church of Philadelphia in USA and the brick work in front of the Pisa church in Italy. The foundation stone was laid on 23 September 1928. The first brick was laid on 1 February 1929 and the last brick just ten months later on 1 December 1929.

Sixty years later, the earthquake of 1989 caused considerable damage particularly to the belltower. The original concrete dome was replaced by one of copper and the original dome now stands as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the earthquake.[5]


  • All Saints Blackbutt South Parish
  • Beresfield Parish
  • Blackbutt North Parish
  • Boolaroo-Warners Bay Parish
  • Booragul Parish
  • Branxton Parish
  • Cessnock Parish
  • Denman Parish
  • Dungog Parish
  • East Lake Macquarie Parish
  • East Maitland Parish
  • Forster Tuncurry Parish
  • Gloucester Parish
  • Gresford Parish
  • Krambach Parish
  • Kurri Kurri Parish
  • Lochinvar Parish
  • MacKillop Parish (Charlestown, Gateshead & Redhead)
  • Maitland Parish
  • Mayfield Parish
  • Mayfield West Parish
  • Merriwa Parish
  • Morisset Parish
  • Morpeth Parish
  • Murrurundi Parish
  • Muswellbrook Parish
  • Myall Coast Parish
  • Nelson Bay Parish
  • Newcastle St Benedict Parish (includes Cathedral)
  • Raymond Terrace Parish
  • Rutherford Parish
  • Scone Parish
  • Singleton Parish
  • Stockton Parish
  • Sugarloaf Parish
  • Taree Parish
  • Toronto Parish
  • Wallsend-Shortland Parish
  • Wingham Parish[6]


The diocese has been referred to as the "epicentre of Catholic clerical sexual abuse in Australia" due to a number of paedophile priests with extensive abuse records being jailed since 1997.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ H. Campbell, Dean Lynch: laying the foundations for Maitland diocese, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 3 (3) (1971), 46-61.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle". The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2007. 
  4. ^ "New NSW Bishop daunted but optimistic". The Record. Australia. 20 April 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Crittenden, Stephen; Smith, Suzanne (17 May 2010). "Archbishop's handling of abuse claims challenged". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 

External links[edit]