Today’s General Diocese Info

Covering an area of 1.5 million square kilometers, the Diocese of Darwin, established in 1938, is one of the largest Dioceses in Australia. Despite this, it has one of the smallest populations with only about 230,000 people. About 21% of our population is Catholic. Geographically, most of the Northern Territory is included within the bounds of the Diocese of Darwin, except for the very bottom. The Diocese of Darwin includes 20 parishes, 18 schools and a range of agencies. Our current bishop is Bishop Charles Gauci. 

General Diocese History

The history of the Catholic Church in Northern Australia has seen a number of successes and failures over the years. There have been three distinct stages of Catholic activity in the Territory. The first missionary activity began in 1846 when Fr. Angelo Confalonieri, from Trent in Northern Italy, together with two Irish lay missionaries set sail from Albany WA to come north to begin an apostolate amongst the Aboriginal people. Unfortunately, they were shipwrecked in the Torres Straits and only Fr. Angelo and the Captain survived. They were picked up by a passing ship and taken to Port Essington where Father Angelo lived and worked for two years before dying from ‘fever’. He is buried there.

Later in 1882, three Jesuit priests, originally from Bavaria, Czechoslovakia and Austria, but coming from Sevenhill in SA arrived in Darwin. The first little St Mary’s church was built in 1889 here in Smith Street. The Jesuits went to Daly River from 1886-1899, but again the apostolate amongst the Aboriginal people came to an end because of the many hardships they faced – sickness and climate being the harshest to deal with. By 1902 there were no resident priests in Darwin either so it was not until Fr. Francis Xavier Gsell MSC, from Alsaace, arrived in 1906 that the church began once again to establish itself.

In 1911 Fr Gsell travelled to Bathurst Island to establish a mission amongst the Tiwi people. Priest and Brothers of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart slowly began building the church there as well as in Darwin and then in Alice Springs in 1929. Another mission at Port Keats (Wadeye) in 1935, and Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte) followed in 1936. In 1938 Bishop Francis Xavier Gsell MSC was consecrated the first Bishop of the Diocese of Darwin which was newly established. Boundaries changed and this new Diocese included all of the Northern Territory down to the 25th degree south latitude – the NT border finishes at 26th degree, so a little of the NT is included in the Diocese of Port Pirie! 

Bishop Gsell remained Bishop until he retired in 1948 and Bishop John O’Loughlin MSC was ordained for this Diocese in 1949. There was much rebuilding of Darwin after World War II and it was during his time that the current Cathedral was blessed and opened in 1962 as a War Memorial to all those people who lost their lives defending Australia and the NT particularly.

 In 1986 Bishop Edmund Collins MSC became Bishop after the death of Bishop O’Loughlin. One of the highlights for Bishop Ted was welcoming Pope John Paul 11 to Alice Springs where the Pope gave his well-known homily to the Aboriginal people of Australia encouraging them to bring their own culture and experiences to their Catholic faith. 

Upon Bishop Collins’ retirement Bishop Eugene Hurley was installed as our Bishop in 2007. Bishop Eugene had the pleasure of welcoming Pope Benedict to Australia when he landed in Darwin on his way to World Youth Day in 2008 and he was able to have some private time with him as his plane was being refueled. 

The Church has continued to grow in the Territory as the population has grown and new towns and communities have been built. Numerous new parishes, schools and organisations working to support the faith of Territorians have been part of this development.  

Bishop Charles Gauci, installed as Bishop in 2018, is currently the Bishop of our diocese. 

Cathedral History – St. Mary’s star of the Sea Cathedral

St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral is situated in the heart of the central business district of Darwin, and is the principal church of the Diocese of Darwin.

It serves a congregation that varies in numbers on a seasonal basis. In the Dry Season (April to September) it attracts a substantial number of visitors, both from other Parishes within the Diocese, and from interstate and overseas, who visit the Cathedral both for weekend Masses, and as part of the tourists’ exploration of Darwin. 

In the Northern Territory Times of 15 July 1882, it was reported that “Two Roman Catholic priests of the Order of the Sacred Heart …came ashore and baptised some young children belonging to Catholic families”.

This is the first record of activity of the Church in Darwin.

In September 1882, four Jesuit priests, led by Fr Anthony Strele, established a Catholic Mission Station, and within a few years built a church on the site of the current Presbytery.

The existing Cathedral grew out of a need for a new and larger church, as Darwin grew after the end of the 2nd World War.  

The idea of the War Memorial Cathedral in Darwin was actually first mooted by war troops stationed there after St. Mary’s Church had been severely damaged in an air-raid in 1942.  The troops had a close affinity with St. Mary’s while they were in Darwin.  Some of the Chaplains were MSCs and the troops worshipped at St. Mary’s which was, and still is, the garrison Church.

As Darwin grew after the war, the need for a new St. Mary’s became more evident.  Mr Ian Ferrier, of the firm J.P. Donoghue, Cusick and Edwards of Brisbane, designed the new building.

The first sod was turned on 16th December, 1957, and the foundation stone was blessed by Bishop O’Loughlin on 13th July, 1958.  This stone was cut from a piece of crystalline metamorphosed rock from Rum Jungle, the site of the first uranium mine in the Territory.  The stone shows extensive silification.  It is rich in symbolism, uniting as it does what was a powerful centre of Territory development with the vital centre of spiritual inspiration.  Mr Carl Johansson was in charge of building operations until 1962 when Mr John D’Arcy took over.


The Cathedral was blessed and opened by Bishop O’Loughlin on 19th August, 1962, and consecrated on 20th August, 1972.  It is dedicated as St. Mary’s, Star of the Sea, and is the centre of the Church’s activity in the Diocese of Darwin.  At the same time the Cathedral is a war memorial to those servicemen, Australian, American, British and Dutch, who lost their lives in the area during the war, and to the civilian residents who died in the war.  The memorial character is reflected in a series of stained glass panels in the west window donated by the Australian and American Armed forces, and depicting their respective emblems.

The lines of the Cathedral’s contemporary neo-gothic design are majestic.  Special features are a series of parabolic arches, 16 metres high, and the extensive use of local sawn stone.  The white porcellanite stone was cut from the cliffs of Darwin Harbour in the Church’s own quarry at Larrakeyah.  Apart from the walls, porcellanite was used in the baptismal font and pulpit.

The Cathedral is dominated at the main entrance by a 26 metre tower, topped by a cross 6 metres high.  The graceful tower sets off the building contours.  A spiral staircase gives access to a gallery at the top, commanding a panoramic view of the city of Darwin.  The roof of the Cathedral is copper.

Designed to meet local tropical needs, the entire length of both nave walls can be opened up by a series of glass panel doors.  Windows in the walls above provide further ventilation and are protected by the broad roofing overhang and concrete grille.

Sanctuary and High Altar

The sanctuary and its ecclesiastical furnishings reflect the distinctly missionary background of the Diocese.  The terrazzo in the altar designs and sanctuary incorporate pearl shell collected by divers from the Arafura Sea.  Alluvial gold panned at the old Arltunga Mission in Central Australia are used in gilt work.  The sedilia (stools) are of local cypress pine, and the parquetry floor of the sanctuary is made from ironwood (Erthophleum chlorostaches) milled at Garden Point, Melville Island.  The door of the tabernacle on the Sacred Heart Altar is of distinctive design, incorporating the Southern Cross.

Set below the eastern wall, which is made up almost entirely of the richly coloured Star of the Sea window, and the barrel-vaulted ceiling, the chancel is in graceful harmony with the nave and transcepts of the Cathedral.

Relics of the Past

As the Cathedral is a Northern Territory War Memorial shrine, it was thought appropriate to include in the foundations various relics of the early days in various parts of the Territory.  These include a brick from Port Essington, a musket ball from Fort Dondas, a relic of The Gap police station from Alice Springs, native relics such as microliths, a stone axe and a stone knife.  The microliths are small spearheads of aboriginal manufacture, probably several centuries old.  They were excavated from beneath the earth floor of a natural shelter on a hill known as Yarrar within the territory of the Murinbata people.  The stone knife is fashioned from a tough pink quartzite.  It was discovered on an island off the north coast of Arnhem Land.

When the foundations of the Cathedral were laid, coins of the realm were placed with the other relics to represent the time of the building. 

Star of the Sea Window

A feature of the Cathedral is the striking stained-glass window, representing Our Lady, Star of the Sea.  

The artist, Mr William Bustard of Brisbane, has brought this out by placing a star atop the window from which rays radiate downwards.  Immediately under the star is a representation of the Madonna and Child.  Then there is an expanse of sky through which three seabirds are flying, and underneath a symbolic representation of the sea with fish, and waves in blue.

Three cherubs decorate the apex of the window.  One is black to represent the Aborigines among the congregation.  The window was donated to the Cathedral in memory of relatives of the Byrne brothers of Tipperary Station.
 
The artist has windows in five Australian Cathedrals. 

Many years of violent tropical weather and blazen sun eventually took their toll on the window and in 1990 it was decided that considerable repairs were needed.  Most of the 70 panes that comprise the window were badly distorted and many of the individual pieces of glass were either broken or missing.  The lead calme that holds the glass together had decayed to the point where it could no longer be relied upon to maintain the structural integrity of the window.

Darwin-based glass artist Jon Firth of Unicorn Glass Studio was engaged to undertake the restoration project, which took two years to complete.  As each panel was reset in place it was covered with safety glass, offering a high degree of protection against Darwin’s extreme weather conditions.

Two Darwin Catholic ladies, Eileen Cossons and Viola Prichard, raised a large part of the funds necessary for the restoration by holding cake stalls at the end of each Mass.  The cake stalls ran for many, many months and was a huge effort on the part of these two ladies, plus other ladies from the parish, who donated cakes and slices. 

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross, which adorn the nave of the Cathedral, were executed at Spilimbergo, Italy, in Venetian mosaic, according to drawings made by Miss Lola McCausland of Brisbane.

There are two outstanding features amongst this beautiful presentation of the way of the cross.  In the eighth station ‘Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem’, the woman in the centre is depicted as an aboriginal girl.  In the fourteenth station ‘Jesus is laid in the sepulchre’, the figure at the right is rendered in the likeness of Fr W.M. Henschke in whose honour the stations were erected.

The stations were erected by parishioner subscription.   

The Aboriginal Madonna

A striking feature of the Cathedral is a large oil painting depicting the Virgin Mary and Child as Australian Aborigines.  It is the work of a visiting European artist, Karel Kupka, of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris.

The painting, in oils, is 1.3 metres high and 1 metre wide.  The  figures are slightly larger than life-size.  The Virgin Mary is depicted with the characteristic features and skin colour of an aboriginal woman.  Her face is a composite portrait from many sketches of different ‘sitters’, done by the artist on various Territory missions.

She is garbed in white.  The collar of her dress is red, embroidered in an aboriginal design.  The Holy Child, also typical aboriginal features and dressed in a white smock, edged with aboriginal designs in red, is seated on the Mother’s shoulder in the typical aboriginal style of carrying an infant.  Behind the heads of Mother and Child are golden haloes, painted flatly in the style of a Byzantine icon, but edged also with perimeters of authentic tribal design in red.

The background of the picture is an intricate pattern of abstract totemic designs, faithfully copied from bark paintings, cave drawings and decorations of native artifacts from all tribes of the Northern Territory, Central Australia and the Kimberley.

The shrine of the Aboriginal Madonna is a focal point for Aborigines, and a reminder that the message of Christianity is universal. A print of the Aboriginal Madonna is available from the Diocesan Office.    

Carillon

The tower of the Cathedral holds a peal of four bells.  They were cast in Germany.  The first bell is called ‘Mary’ and was donated by the Italian Community in Darwin and is inscribed with the Coat of Arms of Pope John XXIII, who was reigning when the Cathedral opened, and of Bishop O’Loughlin.

The other three bells are, respectively:

‘Larrakeyah’ in memory of the people who originally inhabited this part of Australia;
‘Jesus’ for the Jesuit Fathers who were the first missionaries here from 1882 to 1902;
‘Isabella’ after the daughter of George Norcock and Henrietta Bridgeman, the first baby baptised by the Jesuit Fathers on October 1st, 1882.     

Statue of the Wounded Angel

When the Japanese bombed Darwin in 1942, ‘Zeros’ strafed the old church repeatedly with machine gun fire.  Shrapnel gouged rough gashes in the altar and pierced a statue behind the altar, from front to back.  The figure, despite its wound, remained unshattered.  The statue became known as the Wounded Angel and today it has an honoured place in the Cathedral in an alcove off the south side. 

The Tree of Life
This painting in the Cathedral is by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Bauman.  She was asked to paint a picture to go with her talk called ‘Dadirri’, meaning silence or stillness.  It was the time when the saltwater crocodiles lay their eggs in the mounds they have prepared along the river banks or in the swamps amongst the cane grass.  The painting is in three parts.  The upper part depicts nature, which is our calendar.  It tells us when to hunt for fruits, yams, animals, reptiles, fish or birds.  By looking at certain flowers that are blossoming, or which way the wind is blowing, we know what to look for and gather.

The bottom of the painting is ourselves.  The circles and lines mean that we have been washed with Jesus’ blood coming from the paperbark chalice.  The yam under the cross is Jesus’ body.  The cross means that Jesus died for our sins and rose to life again.  At the top of the cross there are flames coming from fire sticks.  Jesus is the light of the world.

The tree in the middle represents the Aboriginal people.  Pope John Paul II said to them:  ‘You are like a tree standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber.  The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burned, but inside the tree the sap is still flowing and under the ground the roots are still strong.’  When the wet season sets in and the rain comes, the tree grows and blossoms.  The storm winds come too.  The white lines on each side of the tree are the water and wind representing the Holy Spirit. 

Past Bishops

BISHOP Francis Xavier Gsell – 1938-1948

Francis Xavier Gsell

Francis Xavier Gsell was born at Benfeld in Alsace, near the French-German border, on 30th October, 1872, and was baptised the same day.  This was soon after the Franco-Prussian War.  His family had been French, but shortly before his birth became German.  His language at home would have been German, though Francis Xavier Gsell was decidedly French, as was his education.  He joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and, after initial studies in France, went to Rome where he continued his studies at the Apollinare University.  Among his fellow students was Eugene Pacelli, who would become Pope Pius XII.  He was ordained a priest in 1896, and soon after travelled to Australia with the hope of working as a missionary in Papua New Guinea.  He remained in Sydney as procure for the missions and then teaching until 1900 when he finally went to Papua New Guinea.

Six years later Francis Xavier Gsell was named Apostolic Administrator of the Church in the Northern Territory, and in August 1906 he arrived in Darwin.  In the years that followed other Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart came to the Northern Territory to work with him.

Initially Fr Gsell lived in Darwin, and laboured to build up the Church. In 1909 he became a naturalised Australian. Then in 1911, he went to Bathurst Island and established a mission there. It would become his home for the next 27 years. In 1921, concerned about oppressive marriage customs among the Tiwi people, Fr Gsell began a practice by which he ‘bought’ young girls who had been betrothed to older men, freeing these girls to receive education at the mission school and, in time, to marry men of their own choosing. In all he bartered for 150 young girls, which later led to him being called “the Bishop with 150 wives”. In turn this would become the title of his book on fifty years as a missionary, first published in 1956. He is rightly called “the Apostle to the Tiwi”.  

During his many years on Bathurst Island, Fr Gsell remained responsible for the Catholic Church throughout the Northern Territory, including the establishment of the Church at Alice Springs in 1929 and at Tennant Creek in 1936, and a mission at Wadeye in 1935.  In 1935 he received the Order of the British Empire.  Then in 1938 he was named Bishop, which office he held until his retirement in 1948.  For his coat of arms, he chose the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, above crossed spears and boomerang.  As Bishop he resided in Darwin, except for the war years, 1942-1945, when he governed the Diocese from Alice Springs.  During the 1940s Bishop Gsell continued to establish the Church and its mission in the Northern Territory, founding missions at Melville Island in 1940 and at Arltunga in 1943.  Catholic Schools were opened at most parishes and missions.

In 1948 Bishop Gsell was succeeded by Bishop John O’Loughlin, also a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, and he retired to New South Wales. In 1951 Pope Pius XII created him Bishop Assistant at the Pontifical Throne, and that same year he received the Legion of Honour from his native France.  He died in Sydney on 12th July, 1960, and was buried at St. Mary’s Towers, Douglas Park.  In 1982 his human remains were re-interred in the crypt of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Darwin.

Bishop JP O’Loughlin 

Bishop Gsell’s successor was John O’Loughlin, MSC.  His early missionary experience had been in Papua New Guinea.  He was consecrated Bishop in 1949.  During his long period as Bishop (1949-1985) he worked strenuously for the development of the Church in the Darwin Diocese.

Parishes were established at Tennant Creek (1953), Katherine, Nightcliff (1968), Nhulunbuy (1970), Casuarina, Jabiru (1981), Sanderson (1982) and several new churches constructed.  A new mission at Daly River was begun in 1955.  A major undertaking during Bishop O’Loughlin’s term of office was the building of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Memorial Cathedral in Darwin, completed in 1962.


Education was one of Bishop O’Loughlin’s chief concerns.  Schools were opened in Daly River, Darwin (St. John’s College), Fannie Bay, Nightcliff, Salonika, Casuarina, Sanderson and Alice Springs.

The Vatican Council (1962-1965) profoundly influenced Bishop O’Loughlin’s approach to missionary activity.  He also had to deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.  The ordination of the first Diocesan priest took place in 1978.  Bishop O’Loughlin died in 1985.

Edmund Collins MSC

BISHOP EJP COLLINS – 1986-2007

Bishop EJP Collins

Bishop Collins led the Diocese from 1986 – 2007, during a time when the Territory had moved from an outpost of the nation to a flourishing city in its own right.  He is well known to all the people of the Territory as his interests and concern have extended beyond the confines of his own Church.   

Bishop Collins had a long association with the Territory, arriving here first in the last 1960s as Assistant Priest at St. Paul’s Parish, Nightcliff.  Altogether he spent much of his life in the Territory, devoting his time and talents to the work of the Church.

Edmund John Patrick Collins was born the youngest of a family of five in Braidwood, NSW, on 22nd March, 1931, and grew up on the south coast of New South Wales.  He became a police cadet at the age of 16 and a Probationary Constable at 19.  The example of the lady in whose house he boarded at Crows Nest in Sydney, had a decisive influence on his life.  Her fidelity to daily Mass turned his thoughts to the priesthood.  

Through the Police Guild of St. Christopher, he met the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who were chaplains to the Guild.  One of them, Fr Eddie Kelly, encouraged Ted to try his vocation.  But in the 1950s, a candidate for the priesthood needed Latin, so Ted humbly took his place beside much younger students to learn that language.  Subsequently in 1955, he entered the novitiate of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and, after further scriptural, theological and philosophical studies, was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Gilroy in Sydney on 20th July, 1963, at the age of 32.

Ted spent the following years in ministry in Sydney, Adelaide, and in the Northern Territory.  In the 1970s he was appointed Director of Catholic Missions for the Darwin Diocese and Superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the Territory, with responsibility for the priests and brothers and the mission work over a vast area.  He lived through Cyclone Tracy.  As it was hitting Darwin, he had the presence of mind to turn on his tape recorder.  Amid the mayhem he completely forgot about it, but after the cyclone had passed he realised that he had a first hand recording of one of the biggest events in Australian history.  The tape is now in the NT Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin, a prominent part of the exhibit on Cyclone Tracy.

After Cyclone Tracy Fr Collins undertook the building of a mission house for the priests and brothers at Nightcliff.  It is in an ideal situation and a haven of rest for those who have given their lives to ministry in remote communities in the Territory.  Its popular name is ‘The Ranch’.

Fr Collins spent the years of 1978-1985 as Parish Priest of Randwick in Sydney.  Following this he spent some time on sabbatical and was preparing to return to the Territory as Parish Priest of Alice Springs in 1986 when he found himself appointed by Pope John Paul II as Bishop of Darwin, in succession to Bishop John O’Loughlin who had died in late 1985.  More than a thousand Territorians crowded into the Darwin Cathedral for the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop Collins on 3rd July, 1986, by Archbishop Leonard Faulkner.

Bishop Ted was leader of the Catholic Church in the Territory for more than 20 years.  His time in leadership was a period characterised by quiet but effective development, and by good relations with other religious bodies and civic authorities.  This reflects his motto as bishop, ‘Cor Unum’, meaning ‘one heart’.  Perhaps the highlight of his time as Bishop was being host to Pope John Paul II during his visit to the Territory in 1986.  This visit has gone into Australian history as one of great significance for indigenous Australians.  Speaking to them in Alice Springs, Pope John Paul was able to articulate their deepest aspirations, giving them hope and renewing their spirit.

Other significant events during Bishop Ted’s period of office include the establishment of two aboriginal communities, St. Martin de Porres in Casuarina and Ngkarte Mikwekenhe (Mother of Jesus) in Alice Springs.  The new parishes of Palmerston and Humpty Doo were brought into being.  He encouraged movements such as the Disciples of Jesus and the NeoCatechumenal Way.  He promoted the Diocesan Development Fund, which has financed church activities throughout the Diocese.  O’Loughlin Catholic College was opened in Sanderson and the Catholic Education Office and later CatholicCare NT (formerly CentaCare NT) were relocated to larger premises in Berrimah.  In addition, there has been the constant work of visiting parishes, celebrating the sacraments, preaching homilies, overseeing the temporalities of the Diocese and caring for priests and people.  Most recently, he has marked the centenary of the arrival of Fr Francis Xavier Gsell, late to become Darwin’s first Bishop, and of 100 years of continuous mission and ministry by the Church here.  To those of all faiths and none, Bishop Ted showed himself a warm and helpful friend.

Sport always interested Bishop Ted.  This was to be expected since as a young man he played first grade rugby league and union in Sydney.  In later years he enjoyed golf and fishing.  He was the patron of St. Mary’s Football Club.  The digital camera was made for Bishop Ted.  He enjoyed displaying his collection of photographs, many of them of Darwin sunsets.

Bishop Ted gave himself unselfishly to the people of the Territory over a long period of time.  He died on Friday, August 8, following multiple and ongoing health issues. His body remains in the Crypt at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral.

Eugene Hurley

Bishop Emeritus Eugene Hurley

Bishop Eugene Hurley was born and raised in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. He undertook his Secondary School Studies at Sacred Heart College and his Seminary Studies for the Priesthood in Adelaide. Returning to regional South Australia, he served as a Catholic Priest in the Diocese of Port Pirie for 43 years. He was appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Port Pirie in 1999 and in 2007 was appointed as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Darwin. 

While still a priest, he served as an Army and Industrial Chaplain, working part-time at the University of South Australia (at Whyalla) during the 1990s, lecturing in Australian Sociology, Philosophy and a post graduate program in Counselling. While working as a priest at Whyalla, Father Hurley established South Australia’s first regional ‘Centacare’ service. 

Bishop Eugene Hurley has been a member of the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention. He used to be a regular visitor to Detention Centre in South Australia and the Northern Territory. While still Bishop of Darwin, he was Deputy Chair of Caritas Australia and Chair of the Bishops’ Commission for Relations with Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Bishop Eugene Hurley has been a tireless advocate and spiritual counsellor for the marginalized and forgotten people both of South Australia and the Northern Territory for more than 50 years as both priest and Bishop. He has been extensively involved in the work of the church with the disadvantaged and those in need of help. He has promoted the welfare and status of aboriginal people throughout Australia, being an inspirational advocate and energetic worker to make real change in the process of reconciling our aboriginal and nonaboriginal peoples. 

His involvement in the spiritual and social wellbeing of people in both South Australia and the Northern Territory and indeed beyond those borders over more than half a century has been outstanding and goes above and beyond the performance in the above areas of most others in comparable situations. In 2019 Bishop Eugene Hurley was recognised on the Australia Day Honours List and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to the community of the Northern Territory.

In 2008, Bishop Eugene Hurley had the chance to meet with Pope Benedict XVI while he was stopped in Darwin on his way to World Youth Day in Sydney. 

Bishop Eugene Hurley retired from his role as Bishop on June 27, 2018. He remains as Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Darwin. 

Current Bishop

Bishop Charles Gauci

Bishop Charles Gauci has been Bishop of the Diocese of Darwin since his appointment by Pope Francis in June of 2018. His ordination as Bishop was held three months later, at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral. 

Born in Malta, Bishop Charles Gauci moved to Australia with his family at the age of 13. In 1977, he was ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Adelaide and ministered at several Adelaide parishes until his move to Darwin. He also took on many Archdiocesan leadership roles during that time, including the Chair of the Council of Priests.