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Polding, John Bede


First bishop of Australia; b. Liverpool, England, Nov. 18, 1794; d. Sydney, Australia, March 16, 1877. Educated by the Benedictines, he joined the order (1811), was ordained (1819), and was assigned as a tutor at St. Gregory's College, Downside, England. In 1834 he was consecrated as first vicar apostolic of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land (Australia). He reached Sydney in 1835. After visiting Rome to request the establishment of an Australian hierarchy, he was named archbishop of Sydney and metropolitan of Australia in 1842. During a period when convict transportation was ending and immigration increasing, he consolidated the Church's position, making pastoral visitations through wild bush frontier country, establishing a Catholic education system, founding new dioceses and parishes, and bringing clergy from overseas. His original diocese was roughly the size of the U.S.; but when he died, there were 12 dioceses with 135 priests. His archdiocese of sydney contained 82 churches, 53 schools, a Catholic hospital, and St. John's College within the University of Sydney.

Bibliography: p. f. moran, History of the Catholic Church in Australasia (Sydney 1897). h. n. birt, Benedictine Pioneers in Australia, 2 v. (London 1911). j. mcgovern, "John Bede Polding," Australasian Catholic Record 1116 (193439).

[j. g. murtagh]

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