St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Hobart


163 Macquarie St,Hobart. Google Maps.
Opened 1841, as the first permanent Catholic church in Hobart, and acted as the cathedral before St Mary’s was completed.

Background to development of Catholic churches in Hobart.

Drawing, 1843
Lithograph, 1844
Two postcards
Interior, stereograph, c.1865


On Thursday last, the first stone of the new Catholic Church; in Macquarie-street, was laid by the Vicar-General, the Reverend Mr. Therry, before a most respectable concourse of people. We copy his very excellent Address, and beg to direct the earnest attention of our readers to the charitable and truly Christian spirit which characterizes it: who, after this, will say, that modern Catholics are Bigots ?

“Having had for some weeks past reason to expect the arrival of our highly revered and venerable Bishop the Right Reverend Doctor Polding, you, my brethren, must feel the greater regret at our disappointment, in consequence of being thereby deprived of the pleasure we should derive from witnessing this morning the personal performance of the sacred ceremony of laying the first stone of the first Catholic Church by his Lordship in the infant metropolis of this most interesting and important Colony, with that solemnity and dignity which are so peculiar to Catholic Pontifical rites. We have, however, the gratification to learn that his Lordship’s visit is postponed but for a very short period, and that we may expect immediately after his arrival to have the happiness of being present at the performance of a similar ceremony on the Land granted us by Government as the site of our principal Church. For the site of our present Church we are indebted, in more than one sense of the word, to a member of the Jewish persuasion, Mr. John Moses, who has allowed us to have it at a considerable sacrifice of personal interest on the same terms as those on which he had purchased it, observing that if he was wrong, the Catholic Religion alone must be right, an observation the justness of which cannot reasonably be controverted by any perfectly disinterested and unprejudiced believer in Divine Revelation.”
Colonial Times, 21 July 1840


In June 1840, the Colonial Secretary received a communication from the rev gentleman, stating that he was about to proceed on the erection of two churches, one of St Mary and the second of St Joseph, which latter had never been heard of by the Government. For that purpose, stone was obtained from the government quarry, but on the same terms as it would have been sold to any private individual, without the possibility of that fact being construed into a tacit sanction on the part of the government. In September 1840, a petition was forwarded claiming assistance in the erection of churches for the N.E. and S.W. divisions of Hobart Town. Such might have been the ecclesiastical divisions bestowed by Mr Therry, but they were unknown to the local authorities. The assistance of convict labour was granted fur the completion of St Mary’s, which appeared somewhat called for, but refused for the second building.
The Courier, 30 September 1842


That relying on the good faith and honor of the Government, as pledged by that Act the petitioner commenced St. Joseph’s Church in Launceston, on the 19th March, 1839, St. Joseph’s Church in Macquarie-street, Hobart Town, on the 16th July, 1840, and the Church of St. Mary, Brisbane-street, Hobart Town, on the 21st November, 1841 ; that petitioner opened and celebrated Divine service in the Launceston church on the 8th instant, and in the Hobart Town church on the 25th of last December. Colonial Times, 18 October 1842 The opening of St. Joseph’s Church, the first Roman Catholic church in Hobart, on Christmas Day, 1841, was made possible by the generosity of supporters of Father Therry, in an impoverished township striving to consolidate itself culturally, and commercially against the great odds of a penal regime. As the title to the land on which the present cathedral and schools were now built was not then properly secured. Father Therry set himself the task of building on another site, that of St. Joseph’s.
22 December 1941

Church Centenary The centenary was celebrated on Sunday of the laying of the foundation stone of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Macquarie-street, Hobart. Erected during the administration of Rev. J. J. Therry, the church was the second of the Catholic denomination established and was formerly cathedral of the diocese. It was here that the first bishop of Hobart Town was enthroned in 1844. The present parish priest is Rev. J. H. Cullen.
The Examiner, 23 July 1840

2 thoughts on “St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Hobart

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    September 19, 2017 at 11:03pm

    what date was the first stone laid

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Monissa Whiteley

      October 3, 2017 at 2:01am

      Probably on the date given in the post.

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