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Our Story

The Sandhurst Catholic story commences and coincides with the phenomena of the discovery of gold and the arrival of the Reverend Dr Henry Backhaus to the Forest Creek and Bendigo diggings in April and May of 1852. Backhaus initially travelled back and forth between Bendigo, Mt Alexander, Forest Creek and Kyneton before settling permanently in the tent city of Sandhurst in the Spring of 1852; where, by 1853, he had erected a slab and canvas Mass tent, near the site of the current St Kilian’s Church.

An influx of Irish born Catholics to the area strongly influence this early story and the devotional Irish also characterise many of the settlers who took advantage of the Victorian Land Selection Acts that occurred following the goldrushes. Besides the Irish, people from many nations lived and worked on the goldfields and their stories are all vital to the Sandhurst narrative.

In the twentieth century, historically significant environments and events were encountered on a local, national, and international scale. World War One and Two strongly shaped and influenced our Catholic heritage and Post War Migration after World War Two saw an influx of many people from European nations into the region. Today the diocese is enriched with Catholic people from across the globe who have settled in our parishes.

Our surviving records traverse one hundred and seventy years capturing the administration of the Church and the social, civic, and religious memory of the populations of people who passed through or settled here.