Having lived in and around Melbourne for many years I’ve noticed that Melbourne has some truly beautiful churches and that individual areas seem to have common qualities when it comes to their churches. So I thought it might be interesting to have a look at a few. I wanted to begin with St Joseph’s Catholic Church on Orrong Road in Elsternwick because this was where my grandparents were married in 1944.
My grandparents are, obviously, in the middle of the photo and my great grandmother is on the left.
St Joseph’s was founded in November 1897.
The first priest of St Joseph’s was Rev. Fr Carey, but he was Dean of St Mary’s Church in West Melbourne rather than a priest for St Joseph’s alone.The second priest was Rev Fr. Gough, he was the parish priest for St James’ Church in North road to which St Joseph’s was attached to at the time.
The first priest of the combined parishes of St Joseph’s and Holy Angels was Rev. Fr. John Barry.Barry was born in Cork in 1875 the eldest of ten children. He arrived in Australia shortly after his ordination in 1899. He was a parish priest in Mansfield before St Joseph’s and after his time at St Joseph’s he went on to be an administrator of St Patrick’s Cathedral and was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Melbourne by Archbishop Carr of Melbourne. Archbishop Carr died shortly after this appointment, but it was confirmed by Archbishop Mannix and Barry was in charge of the Archdiocese of Melbourne during Mannix’s absence overseas in 1920. In 1924 Barry was appointed Archbishop of Goulburn and was immensely influential in establishing catholic institutions in Canberra. He died in 1938 and his obituary described him as “Always practical and with his skilled fingers forever on the spiritual pulse of his Diocese”. 
He can be seen in the photo below second from the left.
Barry’s boss while he was administrator of the Melbourne Archdiocese was Archbishop Daniel Mannix, a towering figure in Melbourne history. Another Irishman from Cork, he was born in 1864 and was Archbishop from 1917 until his death in 1963. The magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral was the heart of the diocese.
Archbishop Mannix’s statue can be seen outside the Cathedral. I will probably write more about Mannix at a later date, but for more information now see http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mannix-daniel-7478
Mannix also solemnly blessed St Joseph’s in 1918 and a stone was laid in the church to commemorate the occasion.
Rev. Fr. John Collins was priest when St Joseph’s was blessed, but he was still priest of a combined parish. The first priest appointed parish priest of St Joseph’s alone was Rev. Father Michael Dolan who died in 1936 aged 69. He was the first Melbourne priest to be ordained in St Patrick’s College in Manly, the primary Australian Catholic Seminary founded in 1889, in 1895.
The clergyman at St Joseph’s at the time of my grandparent’s marriage was Walter P Walsh. Walsh died in 1951 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery. 
The interior of St Joseph is interesting.
There are several memorial windows and as far as I have been able to establish most relate to the Cross family. One window is dedicated to Margaret Pape, the wife of Max Pape. Margaret was the daughter of William John Cross, who is commemorated in another window. She died in 1901 at the age of 39 and her husband predeceased her. 
William John Cross is commemorated in another window with his wife Catherine Mary.
William John and Catherine probably had a son John who is possibly the John commemorated in another window. Catherine probably died in 1865 at 40 years of age so the window must have been put in some time after her death.  William John probably died in 1889 in his St Kilda Road home called Cintra. William John and Catherine were probably married in 1854 and were both from Ireland. William John was from Country Kilkenny and Catherine was from Carrick on Suir. 
The main bridge in Carrick on Suir.
There is also another William John Cross, called WJ in his window and his profession is listed as gentleman. He too lived in St Kilda road, but he was married to Margaret Cross who died some time before 1883 when William John was appointed an executor of her will. 
Margaret’s Cross’ window is on the right.
There is also quite a lovely window donated by the group the Children of Mary.
St Joseph’s is typical of many Melbourne churches in that it reflects the local community and the people involved with the church. It is by no means the most beautiful of the churches but it is still lovely in its own way and is firmly part of the evolution of Melbourne as a city. Also its red brick exterior is typical of churches in the area. You can see the similarities in the Uniting Church just down the road. I am hoping to find out for about this church in the future.
 Obituary of Walter P Walsh. The Argus 1951. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/23091500
 Details of St Joseph’s Church obtained from the manuscript: Historical notes on schools, churches, etc. in Elsternwick and Caulfield. Available from the State Library of Victoria. Accession number: MS 9308
 Obituary of John Barry. Canberra Times 1938. http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/barry-john-67
 Obituary of Michael Dolan. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/11930493
 Obituary of Margaret Pape. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/9620132/3?print=n.
Deceased details from St Kilda Cemetery. http://stk.smct.org.au/deceasedsearch/result/42604S
 Obituary of Catherine Mary Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/5771864/4?print=n
Division of estate of Catherine Mary Cross to her son John Cross. Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/8452440/5?print=n
 Death notice of William John Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/170503498/3?print=n
 Marriage notice of William John Cross and Catherine Mary Dynan. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/4796762/3?print=n
 Division of the estate of Margaret Cross. Trove. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/8498070/5?print=n
The photos are either mine or my family’s apart from the photo of Barry which can be seen at: http://www.cg.catholic.org.au/news/newsletterarticle_display.cfm?loadref=70&id=582
3 thoughts on “Churches of Melbourne: St Joseph’s”
Very interesting research, thank you, and I wonder if you knew of a Fr Norman Hoare who serve – I believe – at what was listed simply as the parish at “Elsternwick” around the 1920s. Also, was ther a Fr Thomas Ryan/O’Ryan there also, or in a nearby parish, as his name features on some official documents for the area. Many thanks for any information you may be able to provide. Helen Frank
Hi Helen. I’m glad you found it interesting. I’m sorry I don’t know anything about either father in particular. I can check my notes from when I wrote the post, but I don’t have access to the at the moment. I’ll have a look at let you know. I would also try Trove.