St Philip Howard’s Catholic Church, Norfolk Island

St Philip Howard’s Catholic Church, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Norfolk Island, South Pacific.


Sundays, 9.00am: Mass, or if no priest is on the Island, a Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion (Preceded by the Holy Rosary at 8.30am)


Norfolk Island lies 1,670 kilometres East-North-East of Sydney, Australia. It was named by Captain Cook in 1774 in honour of Mary Howard, Duchess of Norfolk. The first Catholic presence on the Island dates to 1788 when a British penal colony was established there in conjunction with the convict settlement of Sydney. There were even two Catholic priests, Fr Peter O’Neill and Fr James Harold, among the Irish political prisoners sent to the Island after the 1798 rebellion. In 1834, Fr William Bernard Ullathorne travelled from St Mary’s in Sydney to Norfolk Island to minister to some condemned criminals before their execution and wrote eloquently of the Island’s great natural beauty.

For a time, there was a permanent Catholic Chaplain to the Prison until it closed in 1856.  It was not until 1957 that another permanent priest arrived, and Mass was celebrated in the home of the Martin family, who since the 1930’s had occasionally hosted visiting priests. The Catholic Parish was established, with the simple timber Sacred Heart Church blessed opened in 1959 by Cardinal Gilroy. The church was re-named in honour of St Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, one of the English Martyrs (d.1595), after he was canonised in 1970. St Philip was the son of the 4th Duke of Norfolk, of the same Howard family in whose honour Norfolk Island was named.

Although there has not been a resident Parish Priest on the Island since 1987, the parish is administered from St Mary’s Cathedral. Priests from the cathedral and elsewhere visit the Island several times during the year, leaving enough of the Blessed Sacrament for the parishioners to gather each Sunday morning in St Philip Howard’s Church, even when there is no Mass for prayers and Holy Communion.  They love to welcome tourists and visitors!

Contact details: 
St Mary’s Cathedral
(02) 9220 0400
[email protected]