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10:30am Solemn Mass – Commemorating the Bi-Centenary of the arrival of Fr John Joseph Therry
May 3, 2020 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Brief History of Fr John Joseph Therry
The years leading up to 1820 saw the government conduct a commission to allow for Catholic Priests to formally return to the colony and on 3rd May 1820 the arrival of Fr. John Joseph Therry and Fr. Philip Conolly saw the reformulation of the Catholic faith not only in Sydney, but throughout Australia. Fr. Conolly was sent to Tasmania, whilst Fr. Therry remained in Sydney. Upon his arrival, it was said that Therry had a vision of a mighty church of golden stone dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary with twin spires above the city of Sydney. This vision was realised 180 years later with the present Cathedral.
Fr. Therry applied for a grant of land at Wynyard so that he could bring his vision to life. However Gov. Macquarie instead granted Therry the present day plot of land which was adjacent to a number of Gov. Macquarie’s building projects: a hospital, the Hyde Park Barracks and St James’ Anglican Church.
The foundation stone for the first St Mary’s Chapel was laid on 29th October 1821 by Gov. Macquarie. This scene is shown underneath the Immaculate Conception stained glass window. Due primarily to shortages of both funds and skilled labour, it was not until 5th December 1833 that the Chapel was first used for Mass.
September 13th 1835 saw the arrival of Bishop John Bede Polding, an English Benedictine monk who later became Australia’s first Catholic Archbishop. Polding immediately set work to finish Therry’s chapel which in turn became his Cathedral.
Fr. Therry’s last appointment was as the Parish Priest of Balmain. It was here that he died on 25th May 1864, aged 73. Therry reflected on his years in the colony as “ones of constant work and worry.” Therry was buried in the Catholic Section of Devonshire Street Cemetery. His remains were later moved to the Crypt at St Mary’s Cathedral where they are present today.