Gilroy House (Gold)

Sir Norman Thomas Cardinal Gilroy was born on 22nd January 1896 at Glebe, Sydney. He died 21st October 1977 at Lewisham, Sydney. Aged 81 years.

With the outbreak of WWI he enlisted in the AIF in 1915 as a telegraphist. In 1917 he entered St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood to study for the priesthood. Ordained a priest on the 24th December 1923 in Rome. In 1930 appointed Bishop of Port Augusta, South Australia. On the 18th March 1940 appointed Archbishop of Sydney. On the 18th February 1946, Pope Pius XII named him cardinal. Gilroy was the first Australian-born so elevated.

He exercised a senior position at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). He had a strong commitment to Catholic education. By 1971 he had 366 schools with 115,704 students with 751 Brothers, 2992 Sisters and increasing lay teachers. He resigned his position as Archbishop of Sydney on 22nd January 1971, aged 75 years. Cardinal Gilroy is buried in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

Therry House (Blue)

Father John Joseph Therry was born in Ireland in 1790. He died 25th May 1864. Aged 74 years.

Father Therry was educated at St Patrick at Carlow. In 1815 he was ordained a priest working in Dublin and Cork. Upon hearing that Catholic convicts in Australia were without a priest he applied for missionary work in Australia. He arrived in Sydney on 3rd May 1820. Therry set about his work with great vigour. His chief focus was the need of a church to cater for the growing population of Sydney. It was decided to be on a large scale, St Mary’s Cathedral now stands on this site. Funds were given by government grant, subscriptions and donations.

On 29th October 1821, Governor Lachlan Macquarie laid the foundation stone. For the next forty four years Therry would describe his life as, “one of incessant labour very often accompanied by painful anxiety.” Fr Therry died after a few hours of illness, working to the last day of his life. Today two schools bear his name, one in Balmain and one in Campbelltown, Sydney, NSW.

Freeman House (Black)

Sir James Darcy Cardinal Freeman was born on 19th November 1907 in Annandale, Sydney. He died on the 16th March 1991 in St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. Aged 83 years.

At school, he excelled in literature, music and sport. He studied for the priesthood at St Columba’s, Springwood and St Patrick’s College, Manly and was ordained a priest on July 13, 1930. He served as assistant priest at Grafton, Murwillumbah, Strathfield, Mosman and St Mary’s Cathedral. Consecrated auxiliary Bishop of Sydney on January 24, 1957. Appointed Bishop of Armidale on 18th October 1969 and Archbishop of Sydney on 9th July 1971. He was elevated to Cardinal on March 5, 1973.

On the 12th February 1983 he retired as Archbishop of Sydney. Cardinal Freeman is buried in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. In 1987 the St Vincent de Paul Society established the Cardinal Freeman Centre at Granville for homeless men affected by drug and alcohol-related problems. Two retirement villages bear his name at Ashfield and Merrylands both in Sydney. He is remembered as a quiet, loving and prayerful man with great devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.

Polding House (Green)

John Bede Polding OSB was born 18th October 1794 at Liverpool, England. He died on 16th March 1877 in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Aged 83 years.

Polding was a member of the Benedictine Order and was ordained a Benedictine priest in 1819. He fulfilled many positions such as parish priest, prefect, novice master and sub-prior in his monastery. He was consecrated Bishop in London on June 29, 1834, for the new vicariate which, besides New South Wales, included the rest of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land. Bishop Polding reached Sydney in September 1835.

For many years, he worked as one of his priests, saying Mass daily in various stations, often in the convict prisons, teaching the Catechism, hearing the confessions of multitudes, and attending the sick and dying. He established refuges for women and abandoned children.

In 1842, Polding was elevated to the position of first Catholic Archbishop of Sydney and primate of Australia. Polding was instrumental in securing more priests, brothers and nuns for Sydney. He founded the University College of St John in Sydney and the College of St Mary at Lyndhurst. He founded the first Australian congregation, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict in Sydney in 1857. Apart from the many churches he founded, Polding began the construction of the second St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney in 1868.

Mackillop House (White)

St Mary MacKillop was born on the 15th January 1842 in Fitzroy, Melbourne. She died on the 8th August, 1909 in North Sydney. She was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on the 17th October, 2010 under the name St Mary of the Cross. Aged 67 years.

Mary Ellen MacKillop was the eldest of seven children to Alexander MacKillop and Flora MacDonald. Mary started work at the age of fourteen as a clerk in Melbourne and later as a teacher in Portland. To provide for her needy family Mary took up a job as a governess in 1860 in Penola. Set on helping the poor, Mary also taught other children on the Penola estate. Her work introduced her to Father Julian Tenison Woods who was concerned about the lack of Catholic education in South Australia.

In 1867, Fr Woods with Mary co-founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Josephites. Dedicated to the education of the children of the poor, regardless of religious denomination. The Sisters were involved with orphanages, neglected children, girls in danger, the aged poor, and a home for the aged and incurably ill.

By 1877 the Sisters operated forty schools in Adelaide, Queensland and New South Wales. In 1883 the Sisters were in New Zealand and by 1889 were in Victoria. In 1902 Mary suffered a stroke paralysing her right side. Pope John Paul II beatified Mary on 19th January 1995.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop is Australia’s first saint, famously instructing: “Never see a need without doing something about it.” (1867).

Dixon House (Red)

Father James Dixon was born in Castlebridge, County Wexford in 1758. He died on the 4th January 1840 and is buried in his parish chapel at Crossabeg, County Wexford. Aged 82 years.

Father James Dixon, ‘the convict priest’, was ordained a priest in 1784. Fr Dixon worked in the Diocese of Ferns and assisted in various parishes. He was appointed to Crossabeg in 1794. In May 1798 Fr Dixon was denounced to the authorities as “a United Irishman” and arrested. After his trial, he was sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay.

Fr Dixon was allowed to remain in Port Jackson (now Sydney) and in 1802 was afforded leave to “afford Spiritual consolation to the Catholic convicts”. He celebrated the first public Mass on Australian soil on 15th May 1803 at Port Jackson, followed by Mass at Parramatta on 22nd May 1803 and at Hawkesbury on 29th May 1803. In 1804 Pope Pius VII appointed Fr Dixon as ‘Prefect Apostolic’ of New Holland (now Australia) and thus Fr Dixon became the founding father of Australian Catholicism and also the first formal Ecclesiastical appointment by the Holy See to Australia. Fr Dixon performed the first baptisms and marriages in Australia. In 1808 he obtained permission to return to Ireland, becoming the parish priest of Crossabeg until his death in 1840.