The annual Commemoration, which has been continuous since its foundation for the bicentenary of Père Recevur’s death in 1988, commememorates not only the death of a French Conventual Franciscan friar but also the first celebrations of the Mass in Australia. During the lengthy sojourn of the Laperouse Expedition in Botany Bay between 26th January and 10th March, 1788, it has been reckoned that at least thirty Masses were said aboard Laperouse’s two vessels by their respective chaplains, Père Laurent Receveur (1757-1788) on the Astrolabe and the Abbé Jean André Mongez (1751-1788) on the Boussole. Under a royal ordonnance of 1765 chaplains in the navy of the ancien regime were obliged to say Mass on Sundays and Holy Days except when the weather prevented and on other days as often as possible. The death of Père Receveur on 17th February, 1788 would have occasioned a Requiem Mass by his surviving confrere.

During 2015 a new Commemoration Committee was constituted which includes the following persons:

in Sydney – M. Christian Merlot, translator;  A. Bril

In Victoria: Frank Carleton, archivist;  M. Philippe Borgonovo computer consultant; L’Abbé Raphael du Chazaud

This year the Commemoration will be a Mass in the traditional Latin rite of the Catholic Church as usual. That is to say it will be in the same rite used by both priests of the expedition in the course of the Laperouse voyage. It will take place at 8am on the verandah of the Laperouse Museum on Sunday February, 14th next.

An outline history of the annual Commemoration published online in 2015 can be found by Google and is entitled, ‘Commemorating the First Masses in Australia in 1788 historically or fictitiously’.


Frank Carleton,


Pére Receveur Commemoration Committee

03 5629 9765   provenance7@gmail.com