An opportunity to help celebrate 200 Years of Catholic Education


2021 is a highly significant year for Sydney Catholic Schools. It marks 200 years since the genesis of Catholic education within Australia. As a way to truly ‘celebrate’ this milestone, all schools across the Archdiocese of Sydney are invited to participate in a multitude of festivals and competitions throughout the year, including an original film festival based on a special theme created particularly for this bicentenary.


From the onset of European settlement, Australian Catholics desired separate schools from the pre-existing state operated centres for their children. Catholic education in an otherwise Anglican-centred colony was a fundamental requirement for the Australian people, and in 1820, this requirement was delivered upon. Father John Therry established what is today Parramatta Marist School in response to the lack of Catholic education within New South Wales. In doing so, he set the foundation for one of the core pillars of education for all of Sydney.


Over a century later saw the diversification of the Catholic populace in the country. The period of migration following the Second World War saw a substantial increase in the number of European Catholics in Australia. This effectively brought forward a new generation of Catholic children to be educated in the country. Up until this point, Catholic Schools had been running independently through donations from charitable works from across the state. It was not until the influx of migrants that the Australian Government authorised the funding of church schools in the 1960’s, as a means to relieve strain on the pre-existing independent educational bodies. Post-war migration continued during the Vietnam War and recently with the conflict in the Middle East, with it bringing exponential increases in diversity within the Sydney Archdiocese.


Catholic Schools facilitate the education of over 70,000 concurrent students, each with their own personal story, identity and experiences. Not only has Catholic education as a whole grown significantly over the course of its lifespan, but it has seen noteworthy success. HSC data ultimately testifies the success of Catholic education over the two hundred years of its presence in Australia, particularly when its remarkably small origins are considered.


Sydney Catholic Schools invites all schools within the Sydney Archdiocese to participate in celebrating its bicentenary together. With this celebration comes something distinct, unique and truly special to recognise the achievements of Catholic education.


The Thrive Film Festival is a new event that invites schools from all over Sydney to create a short film addressing a given theme. Teachers and students have between thirty seconds and three minutes to create a film that addresses the subject in a chance to win the competition. In conjunction with this year’s bicentenary, the topic for this year is ‘Celebrate’.


For more information about the Thrive Film Festival, contact your Religious Education Coordinator about this opportunity to enter. Be sure to watch the promotional video below for further details about the festival.

Sydney Catholic Schools has grown exponentially over its two hundred year lifespan. With its remarkably small origins in Parramatta, Sydney Catholic Schools has ultimately expanded to foster the education of over 70,000 students.


It is paramount to recognise that Catholic education in Sydney has truly thrived over its lifespan. It's journey is more than extraordinary, and its celebration is more than deserved.