Fr. PATRICK BONAVENTURE GEOGHEGAN

ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST


Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan was born in Dublin, Ireland, and was baptised in March 1805. After he was orphaned at an early age some of his relatives sought to have him raised as a Protestant, however a Franciscan priest arranged for his placement in an orphanage. The Franciscans later arranged for his schooling at Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland. His education was furthered at the Irish College at Lisbon, Portugal and the Franciscan Order at Coimbra, Portugal.

After ordination as a priest in Portugal he was appointed to St. Francis' Church, Dublin, Ireland. In 1837 Dr. William B. Ullathorne, Vicar General of the Australian mission, visited Dublin and following an interview with him, Patrick volunteered for seven years work in Australia. Fr. Geoghegan arrived at Sydney, New South Wales on the 370 ton barque "Francis Spaight" on 31 December 1838. He spent some months in New South Wales before being transferred to Melbourne in May 1839 by Bishop John Bede Polding.

He arrived at Melbourne on 15 May 1839 aboard the 56 ton schooner "Paul Pry" from Sydney and conducted his first Mass in Melbourne on 19 May 1839 on an altar prepared for the occasion by Mrs. Coffee. He also performed Melbourne's first Roman Catholic baptism on this day on Catherine, the daughter of Thomas Connor and Elizabeth (Kavanagh).

On 24 May 1839 he wrote an open letter to the Roman Catholics of Port Phillip. In it he sought initial and continuing contributions towards the erection of a building for their public worship. This letter also declared his belief in cultivating friendship with members of all religions persuasions.

On 26 August 1839 Fr. Richard Walsh arrived at Melbourne from Sydney on the 351 ton barque "Christina" to act as Fr. Geoghegan's assistant. Church services in Melbourne continued to be held in temporary premises for some time. On 4 October 1841 Fr. Geoghegan laid the foundation stone for St. Francis' Church on two acres of land at the north-east corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne. This church was opened by him on 23 October 1845. He later laid the foundation stone for St. Mary's Church, Geelong in August 1846. From about 1848 he was involved in obtaining a grant of land and early attempts to build St. Patrick's Cathedral, East Melbourne.

He made numerous coastal voyages to Sydney, Hobart and Launceston during the 1840's. In 1848 he was appointed Vicar-General under the newly appointed first Bishop of Melbourne, Dr. James Alipius Goold. Geoghegan went to Ireland in 1849 to recruit priests and returned to Australia in March 1851 per "London" with his relative, Horatio Geoghegan. Horatio was also a Franciscan and had been ordained deacon prior to coming to Australia. After completing his studies at St. Francis's Seminary, Melbourne he was ordained priest at Hobart on 15 August 1852 by Bishop Robert W. Willson and went on to minister for many years in country Victoria before dying at Kyneton in 1895.

Patrick B. Geoghegan was consecrated bishop of Adelaide on 8 September 1859 following the death of Bishop Francis Murphy and was enthroned at St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral in Adelaide on 1 November 1859. Was active in establishing Catholic schools and churches in South Australia. In 1862 he sailed for Europe to recruit new priests.

On 10 March 1864 while in Rome he was appointed to the new See of Goulburn, New South Wales but never commenced there. From Italy he went to Ireland where, following a six week illness of laryngitis and purpura he died on 9 May 1864 at Corrig Avenue, Kingstown, County Dublin. He was buried at St. Francis' Church, Merchant's Quay, Dublin, Ireland. An article about him appears in the "Australian Dictionary of Biography" (Vol. 4).

Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes ( PPPG Member No. 52 )


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