Our Previous Bishops

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The Story

The story of the Catholic Church in Hobart began in 1822 when the pioneer priest, Father Philip Conolly, built Tasmania’s first Catholic place of worship just a stone’s throw from the present Cathedral. 

Dedicated to St. Virgilius, it was a poor building of the simplest style and construction.
For nearly twenty years the Mass and sacraments were celebrated here, and the dead buried nearby.

Father Conolly died in 1839. In 1916 his remains were brought from the old cemetery and re-interred near those of the bishops in the Cathedral.
With the arrival of Father John Joseph Therry, the Brisbane Street site was abandoned in favour of a newly purchased block of land closer to town. Here St. Joseph’s Church was built and opened in 1841.

However, several starts were made on the building of a permanent successor to Hobart’s original Catholic chapel: by Father Therry in 1841 and by the first bishop, Robert Willson in 1853, and again in 1860.

Built to the design of William Wardell under the supervision of local architect Henry Hunter, the first half of the Cathedral (the chancel, transepts and central tower) was at last opened by the second bishop Daniel Murphy, in July 1866.

To the great dismay of the Catholic community, the building was not destined to last long. 

Within ten years the incomplete structure had developed such dangerous faults that the only remedy was to demolish and rebuild.


Robert William Willson (1842 - 1866)

Born in Lincoln, England, in 1794, and ordained in 1824. Robert Willson worked in Nottingham for 18 years. In 1842 he was consecrated the first bishop of the newly created diocese of Hobart Town.

Arriving in the colony in 1844, his chief concern was his mission to the convict population.  He was a leader in advocating reforms in penal discipline and a more humane treatment of insane persons.  After the cessation of transportation in 1853, his principal work became the building up of the Church in parishes for the free community. 

St Mary’s Cathedral was the vision of the first Bishop of Hobart Town, Robert William Willson.   Bishop Willson chose the design and spent years raising the funds. He was particularly inspired by his friend Augustus Welby Pugin, designer of the entire interiors of the British Houses of Parliament and father of the modern English Gothic Revival movement.

Robert William Willson was a man of huge significance in the history of the Catholic Church in Tasmania. Here is an assessment of the man by one of his contemporaries, Archbishop William Bernard Ullathorne OSB, a key figure in the early Australian Church and later Archbishop of Birmingham:

"Among the distinguished ecclesiastics whom England has produced in recent times, there is one whose name is held in benediction at both extremities of the world and whose memory ought not to be left in the shadows of a vanishing tradition. Robert William Willson, a man of singular humanity and benevolence, was the founder of the Catholic church in Nottingham, the episcopal founder of the Church in Tasmania, and the effectual reformer of the management of deported criminals in our penal settlements, was a most influential reformer of lunatic asylums and their management, as well in England as in Australia, and a man who, through his influence with the imperial and colonial Governments, caused the breaking up of the most horrible penal settlement of Norfolk Island."

He returned to England in ill-health In 1865. where he later died in Nottingham on 30th June, 1866.



Daniel Murphy (1866 - 1907)

Born in Co. Cork, Ireland, on 15th June, 1815. He was ordained a priest at Maynooth in 1838 and worked in India for some years.

He was consecrated Bishop of Hyderabad in 1846 and translated to Hobart Town where he arrived in May 1866. One of his first duties was the blessing and opening of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and he lived to see it reconstructed and completed in its present form.

He was created Archbishop in 1888 when he celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination. This title has since continued to his successors.

Following the withdrawal of state aid to church schools he set up the system of Catholic education against overwhelming difficulties.

He died at George Town on 29th December, 1907.


Patrick Delany (1907 - 1926)

Born at Tonacar, Co Galway, Ireland, on 1st February 1853.  After studies at All Hallows, Dublin, and St. Sulpice, Paris, he was ordained a priest in 1879. 

In 1885 he was appointed secretary to Bishop Moore of Ballarat.   On 10th December 1893, he was consecrated coadjutor Bishop of Hobart and was consecrated titular bishop of Laranda.

On Archbishop Murphy’s death in 1907 he succeeded to the See. The development of Catholic education was one of his chief concerns.

He was a scholarly man, proficient in history and languages.  In March 1908 he arranged for the Christian Brothers to come from Ireland to take over the partly built St Virgil's College in Hobart. It was with his support that the Christian Brothers came to Launceston to establish St Patrick's College in York Street in 1919.  In 1923, he took the first steps to invite the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary to Hobart.  

Delany died on 7 May 1926 at Hobart and was buried in St Mary's Cathedral. In 1928 a statue to his memory was erected by the priests of the Archdiocese at Mount St Canice Convent, Sandy Bay


William Barry (1926 - 1929)

Born in Middleton, Co. Cork, Ireland in 1872, of a family from which four other brothers also became priests. He studied at All Hallows, Dublin, and St. Colman’s College, Fermoy. 

He was ordained in 1898. Arriving in Australia later that year he was appointed to the staff of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, where he remained for 12 years.

He was consecrated Coadjutor to the See of Hobart on 31st August, 1919, and succeeded Archbishop Delany in 1926.

During his short term of office he visited all parts of Tasmania to give missions and plan expansion of the Church into the more remote areas. 

He died on 13th June, 1929.

William Hayden (1930 - 1936)

Born at Bishop’s Lough, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland in 1868, and studied at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny, and Propaganda College, Rome. He was ordained in 1891 and arrived in Sydney the following year.

Consecrated Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes on 8th September 1918, he quickly became known as the travelling Bishop as he ceaselessly moved about his extensive diocese. He was translated to the See of Hobart and created Archbishop on 11th February, 1930.

He was an accomplished musician and took great interest in the music of his Cathedral, and the development of sacred music throughout the Archdiocese. Much of his time as Archbishop was marked by illness, and he died on 2nd October, 1936.

Justin Daniel Simonds (1937 - 1942)

Born at Glen Innes, NSW in 1890. He was ordained a priest in 1912 and taught at the seminaries at Manly and Springwood before further study in Belgium at the University of Louvain. In 1934 He was promoted to Rector of St. Columba’s College, Springwood.   

In February 1937 Simonds's appointment as Archbishop of Hobart was announced. He was the first Australian-born Catholic priest to reach the rank of Archbishop.  He was consecrated on 6 May 1937 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, by Archbishop (Cardinal) Giovanni Panico, the apostolic delegate. 

He greatly advanced the spiritual and intellectual life of the Church in Tasmania, and brought about the establishment of Calvary Hospital in Hobart, and Nazareth House for the elderly in Launceston.

As one of the most respected prelates to lead the Church in Tasmania, all sections of the community were dismayed at his appointment as Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne in September 1942.  He succeeded Daniel Mannix as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1963. 

Failing eyesight troubled his later years, and he resigned in May 1967, shortly before his death in November of the same year.

Ernest Victor Tweedy (1943 - 1955)

Born at Newcastle, NSW in 1900. He studied for the priesthood in Sydney and in Rome, and was ordained in Rome on 20th December, 1925.

He was Administrator of St. John’s Pro-Cathedral, Maitland at the time of his consecration as Archbishop of Hobart on 7th March, 1943. He was loved and respected as a true father by his priests and people.

The pastoral development of the diocese and the expansion of its churches, schools, and numbers of religious orders was the notable characteristic of his term of office. Amid great regret he resigned due to ill-health in September 1955.

He died in Melbourne on 27th September, 1965.

Guilford Clyde Young (1955 - 1988)

Born at Sandgate, Queensland on 10th November, 1916.

He was ordained a priest in Rome on 3rd June, 1939, after a brilliant academic career at Propaganda Fide College. Returning to Australia he was appointed secretary to the Apostolic Delegation for a short time until he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop McGuire of Canberra-Goulburn in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, on 8th September, 1948.

He was translated to Hobart as Coadjutor in November 1954, and succeeded to the See on the resignation of Archbishop Tweedy in September the following year.

Archbishop Young’s years in Hobart were distinguished by his leadership in the implementation of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and his contribution to the liturgical renewal of the Church both at the local level and through his appointment in Rome first to the Concilium for the implementation of the Council’s reforms, and later to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship.

He died on 16th March, 1988.

Joseph Eric D'Arcy (1988 - 1999)

Born in Melbourne, Victoria in 1924. He was educated at De La Salle College, Malvern, studied for the priesthood at Corpus Christi College, Werribee, and was ordained a priest in 1949.

He took an Honours Degree in Arts at Melbourne University, winning the Exhibition in Philosophy. He went on to receive the Master’s Degree, with First Class Honours. In Rome he received his Ph.D. from the Gregorian University. In Oxford he was the first Australian born Philosopher ever to receive the Oxford Doctorate. For 20 years Dr. D’Arcy was a member of the academic staff of Melbourne University, which appointed him Reader in recognition of the international standing achieved by his publications.

In 1981 he became Bishop of Sale (Vic.) and also a Member of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Non-Believers, on which he served continuously. In 1988 he became Archbishop of Hobart, and was also appointed a Member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Education.

He resigned in 1999 and moved to Melbourne to live in retirement.

Emeritus Archbishop D’Arcy died in Melbourne on 12 December 2005 and was buried at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, on 19 December 2005 following a Mass of Christian Burial attended by hundreds of Tasmanians and more than fifty Archbishops, Bishops and Priests from around Australia.

Adrian Leo Doyle was born on November 16, 1936, Hobart, son of the late Gertrude (nee O'Donnell) and Leo Doyle and brother to Moya (Mrs Hickey, Brisbane) and Brian (Melbourne).

He was educated at St Mary's College, Hobart; Sacred Heart College, New Town; St Virgil's College, Hobart, before starting studies for the priesthood on March 1, 1955, at Corpus Christi College, Werribee, Vic.

He transferred to Collegio Propaganda Fide, Rome, in September 1956, and was ordained priest on December 20, 1961, in Rome, by Cardinal Gregory Peter Agagianian, with the then Fr Eric D'Arcy as his sponsor. He completed a Doctorate in Canon Law from the Gregorian University, Rome, in June 1965 and returned to Tasmania later that year.

His appointments have included responsibility for the Marriage Tribunal 1966 - 98; Judge on the Appeal Tribunal; President of the Canon Law Society of Australia and New Zealand, 1991 - 94; assistant priest at Invermay, Bellerive and St Mary's Cathedral; and parish priest, at Sandy Bay-Taroona, 1974 - 1990.

He was chaplain to the Italian community in Hobart from 1973 until his episcopal ordination. He was the Director of Renew, 1990 - 92; Dean of the southern region, 1982 - 1989; Chancellor of the Archdiocese, 1988 -1996; Vicar General, 1996 - 98.

On February 6, 1998, he was ordained a Bishop to become Coadjutor Archbishop of Hobart. On July 26, 1999, he became Archbishop of Hobart when Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Archbishop Eric D'Arcy.

His installation as the 10th Archbishop of Hobart was on August 26, 1999, in St Mary's Cathedral. In addition to his Episcopal responsibilities within the Archdiocese of Hobart, Archbishop Doyle also fulfils a number of key roles as a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC).

In 2006 Archbishop Doyle was re-elected as a member of the Permanent Committee of the ACBC (formerly known as the Central Commission of the ACBC) and as Chairman of the Bishop’s Commission for Caritas.

In previous years His Grace has been Chairman of the ACBC Bishops Committee for Social Welfare, Chairman of the National Committee of Caritas Australia and Chairman of the Board of Management, Pastoral Research Projects of the ACBC. He also has been a Member of the ACBC Bishops Committee for Justice Development and Peace.

In 2005 he was one of two representatives of the ACBC at the Synod of Bishops held in Rome. Archbishop Doyle has also represented the ACBC at regional gatherings of Bishops in South Korea and Fiji.

Along with the Bishops of the Province of Melbourne, Archbishop Doyle is a Trustee of Corpus Christi College, the Seminary for Victoria and Tasmania. As Archbishop of Hobart, he also has led delegations of young Tasmanians attending World Youth Day celebrations in Toronto, Cologne, Sydney and, more recently, Madrid.

Archbishop Adrian L. Doyle's comments in relation to his Crest:

Coat of Arms:  Symbols of Tasmania (lion), Community/Eucharist (loaves and fish), Letter to the Romans 12, 5-6, (the reading for Tuesday week 31, the day after I was informed of the appointment)

Motto: "Fidelity (faithfulness) and Love"
"Lord I thank you, for your faithfulness and love" (sung)
This is a common phrase in the Old Testament, (steadfast love and faithfulness)
Books of Genesis, Exodus, 2 Samuel
Psalms 25, 89, 137 (24 in all)
Proverbs (loyalty and faithfulness)
Jeremiah ("I have loved you with an everlasting love..")
Isaiah, Lamentations, Hosea, Micah, Zechariah.

The Fidelity and Love of Christ
• It is important always to place Christ in our focus, in the central position. The statement of the Bishops on the Murray-Darling speaks of Galilee as being the place where Jesus encountered God and lived a life of love and fidelity before God.
• Love and Fidelity are words with very precious meanings. they incorporate the giving of ourselves in generosity and in trust. They involve loyalty in relationships, and care for others in our relationships. The breakdown of trust has been one of the most serious components of the sexual abuse issue.
• Love may be the easier word to accept in today's climate.  It touches on our personal lives, on those who are in our own network, it draws us towards those who are in need of our love and it inspires a practical response such as in Project Compassion.
• Fidelity/Faithfulness is probably more related to the "head". It gives us direction and purpose, and is necessary as "the heart."