|Territory||Melbourne total Roman Catholic population: 1,029,182|
|Ecclesiastical province||Province of Melbourne|
|Established||March 31, 1874|
|Cathedral||St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne|
|Bishop||Archbishop of Melbourne|
|Website||Archdiocese of Melbourne|
|Diocesan Bishop||Denis James Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne
|Auxiliary bishops||Les Tomlinson, Timothy Costelloe, Peter John Elliott|
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne is an archdiocese of the Catholic Church in Australia, located in Victoria, Australia. The archdiocese is the metropolitan archdiocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Melbourne and is responsible for the suffragan dioceses of Sale, Sandhurst and Ballarat. The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Ss Peter and Paul and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart are attached to the archdiocese.
There are 232 parishes in the archdiocese and 369 diocesan priests. The archdiocese has a total of 294 priests in religious orders, 199 religious brothers and 1,323 religious sisters.
There is one seminary for diocesan clergy, Corpus Christi College, and three seminaries for religious clergy.
There are 331 Catholic schools in the archdiocese - 256 primary, 69 secondary and 6 special schools. According to the 1998 census, there were 136,387 students enrolled in Catholic schools in the archdiocese - 77,636 in primary schools and 58,751 in secondary schools.
Within the archdiocese, there are 10 Catholic hospitals, 18 homes for children, 27 for the elderly and 10 for other purposes.
When Melbourne, then called the Port Philip Settlement, and the surrounding area was being settled by European settlers in the 1830's, the area was a part of the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Sydney, in the Archdiocese of Sydney. In 1839, John Polding, the archbishop of Sydney, placed Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan in charge of Port Philip Settlement, and the first Mass was celebrated in Melbourne on Pentecost Sunday, 15 May, 1839. The entire population of Port Philip in 1841 was 11,738, and the Catholics numbered 2,411.
The oldest surviving Catholic church in Victoria, St Francis Catholic Church, was built in 1841.
The Diocese of Melbourne was created in 1848 out of territory of the then Archdiocese of Sydney, with James Alipius Goold as its first bishop. The Catholic population of the colony was 18,000 in 1851, and had grown to 88,000 by 1857, as a result of the gold rush.
James Goold was also instrumental in setting up many catholic schools in the diocese and in introducing to the diocese several religious orders devoted to education and works of charity, including the Society of Jesus, the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy, Good Shepherd Nuns, Presentation Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus, and Little Sisters of the Poor.
When James Alipius Goold was appointed bishop of Melbourne in 1848, St Francis Catholic Church became the cathedral church of the new diocese. Construction of a new church on the Eastern Hill of East Melbourne commenced in 1858, to be called St Patrick's Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral was not completed until 1939.
On 30 March 1874, the dioceses of Sandhurst (comprising four parishes) and Ballarat were formed out of territory of the diocese of Melbourne, with the diocese of Melbourne becoming a metropolitan archdiocese of the Ecclesiastical Province of Melbourne, and responsible for the dioceses of Sandhurst and Ballarat as suffragan dioceses. The suffragan diocese of Sale was similarly formed in 26 April 1887 out of the archdiocese.
Under Goold's successor, Thomas Joseph Carr, additional teaching orders were introduced to the archdiocese, including the Marist Brothers, the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of Loreto, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. In 1887, 11,661 pupils attended Catholic schools of the archdiocese, and that number had grown to 25,369 by 1908. The Catholic population of the archdiocese according to Government census returns of 1901 was 145,333.
Until the mid-twentieth century, the Catholics of the archdiocese were almost all Irish or of Irish origin. The priesthood was exclusively Irish until the early part of the twentieth century, when training of native born priests began.
There are also emeritus auxiliary bishops:
The Vicar-General of the archdiocese is Bishop Les Tomlinson.
The sexual abuse scandal in the Melbourne archdiocese is an important chapter in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in many regional jurisdictions.