Cardinal Gilroy Biography

25 October 2017


Archbishop Anthony Fisher, the ninth Archbishop of Sydney, will launch the biography of his predecessor, the fifth Archbishop, Cardinal Norman Thomas Gilroy, at St Benedict’s Hall, University of Notre Dame, Broadway, on Thursday, 26 October. The launch coincides with the 40th anniversary of Gilroy’s death on 21 October, 1977. Born in 1896 in a rented cottage in the working class suburb of Glebe in Sydney, it was in St Benedict’s Church, Broadway, that he was baptised, received his first Communion and was Confirmed.

His long career as Archbishop (1940-71) and his appointment as Cardinal in 1946 made him a name familiar to generations of Australians. He presided over the most populous Catholic diocese in Australia in an era shaped by World War II, post-war immigration, the Cold War and the protest movements of the 1960s.

There were peak moments in his life: observing the Gallipoli landings in 1915; studying in Rome when Mussolini’s Black Shirts seized power in 1922; becoming bishop for the vast rural diocese of Port Augusta in 1935; becoming Archbishop of Sydney in 1940; his mission to devastated Japan in 1946; the Eucharistic Congress in Sydney in 1953; tussling with the Movement in the 1950s; presiding over the vast assembly of the Vatican Council in 1962; his sustained efforts in the 1960s for the survival of Catholic schools; receiving a knighthood in 1969 and hosting the first visit of a pope to Sydney in 1970.

Authored by historian, John Luttrell FMS, this first extended biography of Gilroy examines his life and his significance as a religious leader in twentieth century Australia and beyond.

As Edmund Campion, Emeritus Professor of History, Catholic Institute of Sydney, has noted: “The first Australian-born Cardinal has at last achieved a full biography.  Fresh research in unexpected places has given John Luttrell a rare insight into his life and times.  Even-handed and honest, he explores from the inside conflicts that once split church and State.  This is a genuine portrait of the man who rose from postal clerk to prince of the church.”

Norman Thomas Gilroy: An Obedient Life, by John Luttrell (Published by St Pauls Publications: Strathfield)

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