Guilford Clyde Young


St Mary's Cathedral, 1960 (AOT, PH30/1/9076)

Guilford Clyde Young (191688), Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, was a uniquely gifted churchman. Born in Brisbane, he was ordained in 1939, obtained a doctorate in theology, and, with a reputation for brilliant scholarship, in 1948 became the youngest Catholic bishop in the world. He was appointed Tasmania's Archbishop in 1955. Problems he encountered included an education crisis, the effects of post-war migration, too few candidates for priestly service, and spiritual supineness in prominent lay people.

Articulate and outspoken, Young's main thrust was to give his people a new sense of direction, especially in worship (with an updated liturgy), lay involvement, social welfare, education and the movement towards Christian unity (ecumenism). The tireless pastor re-organised ecclesiastical administration, constantly visited Catholic communities around the state, created new parishes and introduced religious orders of men and women. Somewhat reluctantly, he entered the political arena to demand justice and equality, as well as freedom of choice in education. On a wider world scene, he played an active role in the Second Vatican Council, especially the debate on religious liberty and in updating liturgical life. At national level, he took part in many important dialogues with the Australian Council of Churches and other Christian communities. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to inspire his people with the Vatican Council's spirit and teachings.

Thousands of Tasmanian citizens from every walk of life attended his Mass of Christian Burial, and paid silent tribute as the cortege proceeded through the streets of the capital prior to burial in the grounds of St Mary's Cathedral.

Further reading: W Southerwood, Guilford Young, George Town, 1983; and The wisdom of Guilford Young, George Town, 1989.

Terry Southerwood