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Divine Service – Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church, Rose Bay (1965)


This program features a Roman Catholic religious service recorded in the Mary Magdalene Roman Catholic Church in Rose Bay, Sydney, celebrated by the Reverend Father Neil Collins with preacher Reverend Father Julian Miller from St Patrick’s College, Manly. The service was conducted in English with some Latin liturgy and occasional commentary from an ABC announcer. It was most likely broadcast live to air.

Curator’s notes

When this service was broadcast, 88 per cent of the Australian population declared itself to be Christian. The times are reflected in people’s dress. The women are all in hats and the men in suits. The children are amazingly attentive despite the service lasting for over an hour.

From its earliest days, the ABC charter stated that the broadcaster was to provide ‘adequate and comprehensive’ broadcasting, which included religious programs. When the charter was updated in 1983, it included new directives to 'innovate’ and ‘to reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community’.

Over the years, church groups kept a watching brief on the ABC’s output to ensure it didn’t drift too far towards humanism and away from programs reflecting the established religions. Nevertheless, by the end of the 1980s, religious programs were fast disappearing from the ABC’s output and the last broadcast of Divine Service was in July 1987. These days, the ABC’s religious department is called ‘Religion and Ethics’ and produces the very high profile program Compass, broadcast on Sunday evenings and presented by Geraldine Doogue.