180 years in Australia

Saturday 24th February 2018 marked the 180th anniversary of the continuous presence of the Order of St Augustine on the Australian continent.

The Irish-born James Alypius Goold O.S.A. disembarked at Sydney from Europe on 24 February 1838. He came as a volunteer, anticipating that he would serve ten years in Australia, but in fact remained for the rest of his life and became one of the major figures of early Australian Catholic history.


James A. Goold O.S.A., the first Augustinian in Australia

Goold first served for three months in Sydney, where he was involved with convict chaplaincy. For the following nine years he was appointed southwest of Sydney to Campbelltown, where he built a church and also was the priest attending the execution by hanging at nearby Berrima Goal of a former bushranger. During his tenth year in Australia, when he had begun his plans to return to Europe, he was appointed the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne. In those days the Melbourne diocese included all of Victoria,

As bishop he travelled to Ballarat five days before and then again immediately after the Eureka Stockade rebellion in an effort to calm the atmosphere and to assist with justice for the miners. He led the building of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, which was in use before he died although not consecrated until nine years later. Another part of his legacy to the Church in Victoria was his collecting and promoting of classical European religious art for its distribution to some of the larger Catholic churches of Melbourne.

Goold possessed a clear vision for the growth of the Church in Victoria and had the strength of will to implement it. This made him a demanding administrator, and at times had him at odds with the colonial government on matters such as the education of children. In an assassination attempt at Brighton in 1882 when he was seventy years old, Goold was struck in the hand by a bullet. He died of a heart attack four years later in 1886. Cardinal Moran (Sydney) described Goold as being “amiable but retiring.”

When the Colony of Victoria was sectioned into three dioceses, Goold was an influence on the appointment of his fellow-Augustinian, Martin Crane, as the first Bishop of Sandhurst (Bendigo) in 1875-1901, whose successor was Bishop Stephen Reville in 1901-1916. Three of the four houses at Villanova are thus named after Augustinians who were bishops in Victoria.