History of the Catholic Church in Tasmania
Until 1821, the Catholic residents of the colony - convicts and free settlers - had no priest.
In that year Father Philip Conolly arrived. His flock, scattered over a wide area, must then have numbered about 1,000 people. Until 1835, Father Conolly laboured alone. In that year, the Most Rev John Bede Polding arrived at Hobart on his way to Sydney to take up his appointment as Bishop. The Holy See had appointed him Vicar-Apostolic of all Australia. Tasmania remained part of his Vicariate until the coming of the first Bishop of Hobart, the Most Rev Robert William Willson, who landed in May 1844.
The new Bishop had to provide pastoral clergy to serve the free people and, for the first ten years of his administration, Chaplains for several Penal Stations. When he retired in 1865, because of illness, the Diocese embraced 12 Parochial districts with resident Pastors. The diocesan priests numbered 19, and the Catholic population about 23,000.
Bishop Willson's successor in the See of Hobart was the Most Rev Daniel Murphy. In 1888, when he celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his Priesthood, the Holy See named him Archbishop. Since Archbishop Murphy's death in 1907, eight Archbishops, including the present Prelate, have governed the See of Hobart.
On 10th November 1997, Pope John Paul II nominated the Vicar General, Father Adrian Leo Doyle to be the Coadjutor Archbishop of Hobart. He was the first Tasmanian-born priest to be appointed a Bishop. On 26th July 1999 Coadjutor Archbishop Doyle was appointed as Archbishop of Hobart, succeeding Archbishop Joseph Eric D’Arcy.