James Gleeson (bishop)

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The Most Reverend

James Gleeson
Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide
PredecessorMatthew Beovich
SuccessorLeonard Faulkner
Personal details
Born(1920-12-24)24 December 1920
Died21 March 2000(2000-03-21) (aged 79)

James William Gleeson (24 December 1920 – 21 March 2000)[1] was an Australian clergyman and the sixth[2] Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide. He was the first South Australian priest to become Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide.

Early life[edit]

James William Gleeson was born on 24 December 1920 in Balaklava, north of Adelaide in South Australia.[1] His early education was in Balaklava, attending a Josephite school before going to boarding school at Sacred Heart College in Somerton Park, South Australia, a Marist Brothers college.[3] Gleeson's studies for the priesthood were undertaken at Corpus Christi College in Werribee, Victoria, and he was ordained by Archbishop Matthew Beovich in Adelaide's St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral on 24 July 1945.[3] After serving as an assistant priest in the cathedral parish for a year, Beovich sent Gleeson to a teacher's college in Melbourne for a year, and in 1952 appointed him Director of Catholic Education for the archdiocese.[4] In 1958, Gleeson received Queen's Birthday Honours, becoming a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). Cited for the award was his work with young people, both as Director of Catholic Education and through his participation with organisations dealing with the education and welfare of students.[5]


After suffering a period of bad health, in November 1956 Matthew Beovich requested that he receive an auxiliary bishop.[6] Pope Pius XII appointed Gleeson to the position, and he was consecrated by Beovich on 21 May 1957,[3] becoming Adelaide's first South Australian Catholic bishop.[5] To Gleeson, Beovich delegated responsibility for Catholic Action movements and Catholic radio and television, and he eventually came to chair a number of diocesan committees and councils. The Archbishop also tasked him with the ordination of new priests and parish visitation. However, the most important parts of the diocesan administration, such as financial and policy matters, remained under Beovich's control.[7]

In July 1964, Gleeson was appointed coadjutor archbishop, in effect naming him as Beovich's successor. Beovich retired on 1 May 1971, making Gleeson the first South Australian priest to become Archbishop of Adelaide.[3]

On 20 March 2000, Archbishop Gleeson died as the result of a heart attack. His funeral was held at St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral. The Catholic school Gleeson College is named in his honour.


  1. ^ a b "Former Archbishop Dies". Australian Associated Press. 21 March 2000. Retrieved 19 August 2010.[dead link]
  2. ^ "History - Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide". Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d Rice 2001.
  4. ^ Laffin 2008, p. 152.
  5. ^ a b Press 1991, p. 215.
  6. ^ Laffin 2008, p.225.
  7. ^ Laffin 2008, p.226.


  • Robert, Rice (2001). "Some reflections on the contributions of Matthew Beovich and James Gleeson to the Second Vatican Council". Australasian Catholic Record. 78 (1): 46–61.
  • Laffin, Josephine (2008). Matthew Beovich - A Biography. Wakefield Press. ISBN 978-1-86254-817-6.
  • Press, Margaret M. (1991). Colour and Shadow – South Australian Catholics 1906–1962. The Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide. ISBN 0-646-04777-9.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Adelaide
1971 – 1985
Succeeded by