GOOLD, James Alipius (1812-1886)

GOOLD, James Alipius (1812-1886)
first Roman Catholic archbishop of Melbourne
was born at Cork, Ireland, on 4 November 1812. On leaving school he entered the order of St Augustine to study for the priesthood, and spent his college life largely in Italy. He was ordained priest at Perugia in 1835 and was stationed for a time at an Augustinian convent in Rome. There he met Dr Ullathorne (q.v.) in 1837, who suggested that he should go to Australia. He arrived in Sydney in February 1838. He was given charge of the district of Campbelltown, where he spent much of his time travelling through the country on horseback. In July 1847 he was appointed bishop of Melbourne and was consecrated at St Mary's cathedral, Sydney, on 6 August 1848. He travelled overland, the journey taking 19 days, and arrived in Melbourne on 4 October. The new diocese stretched from the Murray to the sea and the bishop took the opportunity of meeting many of his priests and people on the way, and was able to form some idea of the state of the country. Melbourne itself was then only a small town, and priests, schools and churches were few. Goold began his work with great zeal and arranged with the heads of well-known religious orders such as the Jesuits, the Christian Brothers the Sisters of Mercy, and the Presentation Nuns to establish branch institutions in the new colony. Five acres of land on Eastern Hill, after negotiations begun in 1848, were finally granted by the crown on 1 April 1851 and shortly afterwards became the site of St Patrick's cathedral and the bishop's palace. The discovery of gold in this year enormously increased the population of Melbourne, and it was realized that the church of St Patrick that had been begun would not be worthy of the growing city. It was decided to build a great cathedral. In 1858 W. W. Wardell (q.v.), then government architect, was asked to draw up the plans, and the first stone of the new building was laid in December 1858. For the remainder of Goold's life he was much occupied with the raising of funds for the cathedral.
There was, however, another problem constantly before him, the question of primary and secondary education for Catholic children. In 1872 the Victorian government under Francis (q.v.) had announced the preparation of a bill to bring in free, secular and compulsory education. Goold believed that education without religion was worthless, that the bill was the beginning of an attack on his Church, and he issued a strongly-worded pastoral which in effect urged all Roman Catholics to vote against the supporters of Francis at the coming election. The Protestants, however, allied themselves on the side of Francis and much sectarian feeling followed which did not die down for many years. It is now clear that Goold's action was a tactical blunder. He, however, never relaxed his opposition to the new act after it had been passed, but though subsequent campaigns were conducted ability he had little success. In his younger days Goold had kept much in touch with his large diocese, but when fresh sees had been created his work was more confined to Melbourne and much of it was administrative. He made occasional visits to Rome, became archbishop of Melbourne in 1874 and continued his work with energy. Towards the end of his life his health began to suffer but it was difficult to persuade him to relax from his duties. He died at Melbourne on 11 June 1886.
Though really an amiable man, kindly and charitable in an unobstrusive way, Goold had a somewhat distant manner with the laity, and was a strict disciplinarian to his clergy. He was not a brilliant preacher, and wrote little or nothing, but he was an untiring worker with much administrative ability, thoroughly fitted for the work he was destined to do. He began with almost nothing and left a large and flourishing diocese with numerous clergy, churches and schools, and a noble cathedral well on the way to completion.
Cardinal Moran, History of the Catholic Church in Australasia; J. F. Hogan, A Biographical Sketch (Reprint of articles in the Argus, Melbourne, 12, 14 and 16 June 1886); The Australasian, Melbourne, 19 June 1886; The Advocate, 19 June 1886; St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, 1839-1939.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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