The following year, Father James Duhig arrived, and in 1861 the first Mass was celebrated in the Court House. Over the following year, money was collected for a church and in January 1863, St Joseph's Church in Alma Street was opened and blessed. Father Dean Murlay was appointed the first resident pastor of Rockhampton. At this stage, the parish extended north to Cooktown and south to Maryborough. Father Murlay was the only priest to look after this vast area.
The Sisters of Mercy established a community in 1873, and Rockhampton remained part of the ArchDiocese of Brisbane until 1882. The Diocese of Rockhampton was formed on 29 December 1882 and the first bishop was Bishop John Cani.
In 1978, Bishop Wallace fulfilled a long dream of having a contemplative community in the Diocese when he invited the Benedictine Nuns of Pennant Hills, Sydney (now Jamberoo Abbey) to make a foundation . Five sisters took up residence at Emu Park in a house generously provided by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1982 they moved to a new monastery at Lammermoor in Yeppoon. In 2002, the Benedictine Nuns moved onto acreage at Tanby, Yeppoon. All these locations have been within the Parish of the Capricorn Coast and the sisters have had strong support from the people of this parish.
The Benedictine nuns were invited into the Diocese by Bishop Wallace in 1978. They lived at Emu Park for four years before moving to Lamermoor in Yeppoon. In 2005 they moved to their present location at Tanby, Yeppon.
In 1930, the Diocese of Townsville was formed from the northern past of the Diocese of Rockhampton. At the time of its creation, the Diocese of Rockhampton boasted some 10,000 Catholics, six or seven priests, eight Catholic schools and one orphanage.