“You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:13-16 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
For over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has had a profound impact on faith—and consequently on the laws and culture of our society.
In the first centuries, Christianity introduced to Roman society the notion of God’s forgiveness, truth and love and the unique individual dignity of the human person.
Since that time the Catholic Church - the vehicle of God’s Gospel - has spread the faith across the world, bringing people back into relationship with Him, offering conversion, transforming lives, and giving inner peace and joy - “peace the world cannot give”.
This is expressed beautifully in the famous quote from St Augustine, an early bishop of north Africa, who after a life of debauchery and misdeeds converted his life to Jesus saying: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, Lord”.
Countless men and women - lay, consecrated, priests, and bishops - have given their lives to proclaim the Good News. And over the centuries this Divine message permeated our laws and social order.
The new moral system brought in by the Good News of the Christians abolished some of the worst practices of Ancient Rome including infanticide and the murderous gladiatorial games. It also raised the legal status of women, children and the poor.
The concept of universal Human Dignity - which came from the Biblical teaching that people are made in God’s image (imago Dei) - paved the way not only for the development of human rights, but also democracy, capitalism and the modern state as we know it. Achievements we all celebrate today, such as universal suffrage and the rejection of slavery, were only made possible through the Biblical teaching on humanity. This has become clear since 1948, where it is largely those countries which have a Judeo-Christian understanding of human dignity that have been able to apply the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As well as this, the Catholic social teaching principles of subsidiarity and solidarity have tempered Australian public life, limiting government and promoting participation, while the Church’s insistence on the preferential option for the poor makes her still a world leader in looking after the poor, vulnerable and marginalised.
As political life flows into culture, the Catholic Church has also had an unmistakable impact on culture.
From the magnificent works of Michelangelo in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, to our own heritage-listed Cathedral of St Mary’s in Sydney, Catholics have always expressed themselves in architecture and art.
The flowering of cathedrals in the early outposts of Australia, is proof that beauty grows where Catholicism is planted. At the time of the construction of St Mary’s Cathedral, Catholics were very much a minority in Australia. The Catholic Emancipation Act had been passed, but it would be decades before it would be a reality down under. However, this did not stop the Australian faithful from building our neo-gothic masterpiece, and so St Mary’s Cathedral has graced the eastern side of Hyde Park for over 150 years. It is also no coincidence that St Mary’s Cathedral is home to Australia’s oldest choir, established in 1818.
To this day, St Mary’s Cathedral continues to be a cultural hub. By preserving our heritage listed Mother Cathedral and the artworks inside, and supporting the annual Christmas Concert, we make sure that it is still able to proclaim the Good News.
As Sydney’s largest religion, Catholics still have so much to offer Australian cultural, political and social life. We can achieve this because Catholicism is not just a social program, it is a religion. The Church is inspired, that is, it has the Holy Spirit dwelling within it, and the capacity to make its members holy. The Church offers not just the pathway to a good life, but the Sacraments which make the journey possible.
As we travel into the third millennia, Catholics and the Catholic Church face new challenges. We wish to continue to bring forth treasures “new and old ” to our culture, our politics, and for individuals on their path to salvation.
We would like to show that the Catholicism is not just a vestigial trait – the impressive remnants of a legacy – but the witness of the living body of Christ.
The Church continues this ministry and invites you to join us.
St Mary's Cathedral National Trust
The beauty of our Cathedral is sustained by support through the St Mary's Cathedral National Trust.
St Mary’s Cathedral is a Sydney landmark and a beacon of hope for those who share the Catholic faith. It is a source of inspiration and the spiritual home of Sydney’s Catholic community.
Your donation will:
- Restore the Stations of the Cross
- Repair the roof of St Mary's Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral National Trust needs your help to preserve our Mother Cathedral. Please donate today.
The Seminary of the Good Shepherd
The heart and future of the Catholic Church in Sydney begins here—at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary.
It is the training ground for the future priests and deacons of the archdiocese of Sydney and surrounding dioceses of NSW.
These seminaries are a places of “intense formation”. They seek to develop men strong in faith, hope and love who are willing, to give their lives to their Lord and the ones that they have been called to serve.
Your donation will:
- cover the daily living expenses of these seminaries which serve as houses of spiritual growth, character development and brotherhood.
- support the pastoral formation of seminarians at the Catholic Institute of Sydney.
The Seminary needs your help to form our future priests for generations to come. Consider donating today.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
The formation of our Catholic children in public schools is strengthened through the volunteer catechists that are trained and supported by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD).
Since its formation in 1958, CCD Sydney has taught over 1 million students and every week, a dedicated team of over 2,300 catechists travel across NSW bringing the Good News to 30,000 children in over 400 schools.
Using a pedagogy of inductive and deductive reasoning the curriculum introduces students to the love of God, the truths of the faith and opens up the pathway to the Sacraments
Your donation will:
- develop programs and resources to help spread the Gospel to children
- provide quality training and professional development to Catechists
CCD needs your help to teach the Catholic faith to children in public schools. Consider donating today.
Catholic Chaplaincy Services are concerned with the care of all people within the institution and those affected by the institutions (residents, relatives and staff).
University Chaplaincy: University Chaplaincy in its current form was established by Cardinal Pell in the beginning of 2002. At present it has five staff, it aims to create a Catholic culture on campus and provide spiritual and friendship support to all students.
Hospital Chaplaincy: The Sydney Archdiocese has had a long commitment to ministering to both the sick and those affected by the person’s illness. There are approximately 20 religious and lay chaplains working in a variety of roles within our major hospitals in the Sydney region.
Prison Chaplaincy: Chaplains and the chaplaincy services they provide are available at Long Bay (where there are currently over 1000 men interned) and at Silverwater (where there are almost 1500 women in the five gaols there). The Chaplaincy office provides a range of services from Mass, to prayer reflections, counselling, assistance and general support for family and friends.