Students from 45 Catholic schools across the Diocese of Wollongong gathered on Monday for a celebratory Mass to mark the bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia.
Bishop Brian Mascord, representatives from Catholic Church agencies, religious orders, and Catholic school principals and staff also gathered at St John Vianney Co-Cathedral, Fairy Meadow.
Diocese of Wollongong director of schools Peter Hill said the Mass was a highlight of the bicentenary year.
"Throughout the last two centuries, thousands of dedicated women and men, often with very limited resources, rose to the challenge of building the vibrant and diverse Catholic education system that exists today," Mr Hill said.
"As we reflect on the important work of Catholic education, we remember the intergenerational contributions that preceded us and that we continue to build upon.
"Since the very first Catholic school was established in NSW in 1820, countless children and young people have benefited from the dedication and commitment of faith-filled staff in our Catholic schools."
As we reflect on the important work of Catholic education, we remember the intergenerational contributions that preceded us and that we continue to build upon.Diocese of Wollongong schools director Peter Hill
The nationwide celebrations mark the bicentenary of the first 'official' Catholic school, opened in Parramatta in 1820 by Fr John Therry.
The first Catholic school in the Diocese of Wollongong, was established in 1828 in Campbelltown, with St Francis Xavier Catholic opening in Wollongong in 1838.
In 1974, the National Catholic Education Commission was established by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference with then Bishop Francis Carroll as its chair.
Bicentenary celebrations include the launch of a commemorative magazine.
The first edition of 'Faith in the Future' highlights stories and coverage of the Bicentenary of Catholic education in Australia.
Today, Catholic education has grown to 1751 Catholic schools in Australia educating around one in five or 768,000 students and employing 98,000 teachers and staff.
The Diocese of Wollongong is home to 38 low-fee systemic Catholic schools and seven independent Catholic schools.
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