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RIGHT REV. DR. JAMES A. GOOLD, FIRST CATHOLIC BISHOP, MELBOURNE

This cover has a red PAID mark of London, as well as a manuscript red ‘8' and a black ‘3' and a black horizontal handstamp that is illegible.  There is no doubt about the addressee, The right Rev. Dr. James Goold, R.C. Bishop, Melbourne, Port Phillip, Australia.  The date is given by the vendor as 185[?] (Figure 1).

The only marking on the reverse is an unframed red oval PORT PHILLIP/ [CROWN]/ MELBOURNE, with sealing wax on the flap (Figure 2).

Goold’s middle name is spelt ‘Alipius’ by the ADB and ‘Alypius’ by the Catholic Encyclopedia, Melbourne.   James Alipius Goold, Roman Catholic Archbishop was born on 4 November 1812 into a prosperous commercial family in Cork, Ireland..  He entered the Augustinian order, made his novitiate at Grantstown, Wexford, and studied divinity at Rome and Perugia..  He was ordained in Rome, returned to Ireland and gained permission from his superiors to volunteer for missionary service in N.S.W., arriving in Sydney on 24 February 1838.

Goold began work as assistant to Archdeacon McEnroe and was appointed to Campbelltown N.S.W. where he stayed for five years.  He built schools and several churches and won repute as an outstanding missionary pastor.  He became a protégé of Archbishop John Bede Polding, and was appointed by Pope Pius 1X as bishop of Melbourne on 9 July 1847, but his consecration was delayed until August 1848.  He travelled overland to Melbourne, and was installed in St Francis pro-Cathedral on 8 October.  Religious factional strife was then acute and the new bishop became a focus for Catholic loyalties in the Port Phillip District.   In November and December he disputed the title 'Bishop of Melbourne' with the Anglican Bishop, Dr. Charles Perry.

In 1850 Goold was a central figure in the defence of Irish immigrant orphans who were attacked by officialdom because of their inability to be assimilated into an urban community. Throughout the decade he led Catholic opposition to Anglican claims of precedence at government functions; this dispute culminated when Goold and his clergy boycotted the Queen's birthday levee in 1859. His efforts to make the Catholic Church a recognized influence within the colony had been largely successful, but more obvious was his direction of the physical growth of the Church.

Goold saw that the most immediate need of the Catholic Church was sufficient clergy not only for the rapidly growing population in Melbourne but also for the rural communities which extended west to Portland and north to the ranges.  The second need was ecclesiastical and school buildings, including a cathedral.  To raise funds he launched the Catholic Association in January 1849 and with extensive lay and clerical support it raised money for the first mission to Ireland to recruit priests for the diocese.  In 1851 Goold visited Ireland, and the first new missions were established and manned by Irish and English priests.  A small seminary was attached to St Francis's Church to train clergy until St Patrick's College was opened. The problem of providing clergy and buildings was accentuated by the gold rushes and permanent pastors could not be appointed to the goldfields until 1853.  Goold went to the Ballarat goldfields in November and December 1854 and September 1855.  His presence was said to have pacified many diggers and to have contributed to the orderly behaviour of Catholic miners, particularly after the Eureka affair.

Goold assumed firm personal direction of the affairs of his diocese.  In 1853 he helped to found the weekly Catholic Tribune which soon closed after he withdrew his patronage.  Throughout the 1850s, and particularly after the Legislative Council's select committee recommended government grants to religious denominations in 1852, he was determined to secure the continuity of this aid.   Before the first communities of nuns arrived in 1857 he tried hard on overseas visits to obtain staff for his proposed orphanage, hospital and schools.  The introduction of teaching orders for boys after 1865 developed from the same policy.

In Melbourne, Goold showed great interest in education. One of the first tasks he gave the Catholic Association was to raise funds for building schools in rural areas.  Central control of Catholic education was established in the 1850s by the bishop and his vicar-general, John Fitzpatrick and was consolidated in 1861 under the Catholic Education Committee.  It met regularly under Goold's chairmanship and included representatives of clergy and prominent laity.  After the Victorian Board of Education was formed in 1862 he often clashed with government authorities over the role of local Catholic clergymen on school committees.  In 1866 Goold refused to appear before the royal commission into education because no episcopally-nominated Catholic had been appointed to it, although the government had invited two Catholic laymen to join it.

Before the 1872 election Goold issued an admonition, calling on Catholic laity and clergy to withhold their votes from those candidates 'in favour of a scheme of godless compulsory education'.  In 1873-84, proposals for compromise were often mooted but Goold would entertain no solution that reduced his authority as exercised through the central committee or his nominees on local school committees.  Yet he was concerned about the possible harmful effects of Catholic political rallies even when organized by his committeemen, while he gradually concentrated his attentions on administration of his diocese and the building of its cathedral.

St Patrick's Church on Eastern Hill had been planned early in Goold's episcopate and, the building was almost complete in 1858 when the decision was taken to demolish part of it and rebuild on a Gothic design.  The decision was strongly opposed by the laity and the clergy many of whom were already finding difficulty in raising funds for local projects.   In his correspondence and pastorals for two decades Goold appealed for generous donations for the cathedral, and in 1874 from Rome he directed Fitzpatrick to divide the metropolitan area into sections for systematic collection.   Although the cathedral project remained for years a focus for opposition, it was praised by the Catholic press and subscriptions were generally filled.

He visited Rome and Ireland again in 1867, and attended the council session of 1869.  In 1873 on his last visit to Rome it was announced that he would become archbishop when Melbourne was made a metropolitan see on 31 March 1874.  He attended the first provincial council of the Catholic Church in Australia at Sydney in 1844 and the second in Melbourne in 1869, advocating in both as in Rome the creation of new Australian sees.  He also wanted Irish bishops despite the policy of Polding who favoured Benedictines and other English clergy for Australian appointments.

Archbishop Goold enjoyed good health until the 1880s.  At Brighton on 21 August 1882 he was fired at by an old acquaintance, Peter O’Farrell.   Goold's health deteriorated steadily after that day, but he continued to display the qualities of devoted pastor by making widespread visitations and confirmations.  Throughout his episcopate he had been an unyielding but sincere prelate whose first concern was his church and its interests.  He had no broad views or scholastic achievement and ruled his archdiocese with the conservatism and single-mindedness of an Irish bishop in an Irish see.  He died after a heart attack at Brighton on 11 June 1886.  He was buried within St Patrick's Cathedral, the building of which was perhaps his greatest triumph.  A picture of Archbishop James Goold is shown in Figure3.

This paper is an extract from the much longer entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Addendum:  An additional cover addressed to Bishop Goold dated 1850 sent from London is seen in Figure 4.

 


 
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