Fr Thomas Moore of Gooloogong
Any study of the story of our Archdiocese would reveal instances where the appointed priest of a parish has become so closely identified with it that he has become an integral part of the wider community as well. And where this has occurred it has often involved one of our priests of Irish background.
During the past 12 months the story of one such priest, Fr Thomas Moore, has been featured in the Gooloogong Historical Society publication From Island Magee to Gooloogong written by Cowra historian Marianne Payten. Marianne consulted sources held by the Archdiocesan Archives in preparing this work.
Ordained after studies for the priesthood at Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland in June 1934, Fr Moore arrived in Australia for service in the Goulburn Diocese early in 1935. He served in the parishes of Goulburn, Milton, Crookwell and Yass and in central diocesan roles before appointment as parish priest of Gooloogong in 1947 where he remained for 19 years.
Fr Moore soon won the hearts of the Gooloogong community. A keen golfer he presented a competition trophy – the Father Moore Challenge Cup – to the local club and served several terms as club president. He was also a driving force in the Gooloogong Development League, which was focussed on the creation and improvement of local facilities.
Under Fr Moore’s leadership two new churches were built in the parish – a new St Malachy’s Church in Gooloogong, completed in 1953, and a rural church in the locality of Mulyandry dedicated to St Pius X and opened in 1955. In 1959, Gooloogong became one of the earliest parishes of the Archdiocese to introduce a planned giving program.
Two of Fr Moore’s altar boys of the 1960s, brothers Greg and Laurie Beath, took up vocations to the priesthood.
Fr Moore’s parents, George and Carrie, had migrated to Sydney in the 1930s, but returned to Ireland before the outbreak of World War II. After the war they again came to Australia and joined their son in Gooloogong. They initially lived with Fr Moore in the presbytery until moving to their own accommodation. Both embraced and were embraced by the Gooloogong community. Carrie Moore died in 1957 and is buried in Gooloogong cemetery. ‘Poppa’ Moore, as he was known, became an identity in the village until his death in 1964.
Fr Moore’s younger sister, Caroline, joined the religious order of Sisters of the Holy Cross and, as Sister Louise Carmel, served for much of her adult life as a missionary in South Africa. They met up in Switzerland in 1965 while Fr Moore was holidaying.
Fr Moore was a gifted public speaker – described as an eloquent preacher and noted orator – and was often called upon to speak at formal gatherings of clergy. It was on one such occasion in August 1966 – the dinner at Harden to note the golden jubilee of ordination of Monsignor Austin O’Connor – that Fr Moore tragically collapsed and died while at the microphone.
News of his death brought letters of condolence from his state member of parliament and from the three local government councils surrounding Gooloogong; a fitting tribute to his importance to his community.
From Archbishop Eris O’Brien came the words: “As a pastor he was excellent. His Catholic people loved him and he loved them. Also within the general community he was esteemed by all citizens.”
Fr Moore was buried beside his parents in Gooloogong Cemetery.
Gooloogong is no longer within the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. It was transferred to the Diocese of Bathurst in 1978.
Copies of From Island Magee to Gooloogong are available from the Gooloogong Historical Society, Gooloogong.
- Denis Connor is the Archdiocesan Archivist for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
I know boththeBeath men in fact Greg w as in my class at Brigidine Convent. Cowra
I taught in the 2 teacher catholic school in Goologong in 1975 It was called St Thomas . the little town has a special place in my heart .
I still keep in touch with the Beath Fathers through my cousin who is aBrigidine Sister.
I knew Ted Riley, if my memory serves me correctly. He had the butcher shop in Gooloogong before George Simmons, father of Royce Simmons. Any connection?
Fr Thomas Moore had a 1 year younger brother, George, who was a gunning instructor in the RAAF during WWII. He was killed on 22 June 1942 when the plane he was in failed to pull out of a dive while training over Lake Victoria.
Both Fr Thomas & George spent quite a bit of time in the home of my grandparents, James & Mary (Mollie) Robertson & their 3 daughters, Doreen (Stuckey), Patricia (my mum) & Mary (Myers who lived most of her adult life in Gooloogong) in Glebe in Sydney during the early war years.
Fr Moore married my parents on 20 Oct 1949 • St James Church, Forest Lodge, Sydney.
I was christened George Thomas after the 2 brothers in the old St Malachy’s church Gooloogong (possibly the last) by Fr Moore but his mum wouldn’t talk to my mum for some time afterwards as she thought no-one could be good enough to be called after her sons. Fr Moore told mum not to worry about it, that his mum would get over it. My brother & sister were both christened in the new St Malachy’s church 1 & 2 years after me by Fr Moore. I also received my first communion from Fr Moore in the new St Malachy’s church.
My father, 1 of his brothers, Michael, & another chap whose name escapes me were Lachlan Valley Builders & were asked to build the new St Malachy’s church but it was too big a job for them so a Sydney company got the job under the leadership of Noel Reid, a longtime resident of St Gregory’s parish Queanbeyan & they worked on the building. They also built 3 housing commission houses in Main Street (Lachlan Valley Way) Gooloogong & we later moved into the middle one with Poppy & Mrs Moore on one side, their home mentioned in this article.
I remember the day Fr Moore died as I was in class in 2nd form at St Edmund’s College Canberra when my brother & I were taken out of class to be told of his death. Our family attended his funeral in St Malachy’s church which was overflowing with more priests, bishops & religious than I had ever seen as well as parishioners, former parishioners, friends & associates from many walks of life.
I remember Poppy & Fr Moore very well, 2 great men. Poppy was always very friendly & ready for a chat with us as young kids. Fr Moore was there for everyone & up for any challenge from organising the fundraising for the building of Inverallochy college near Goulburn to changing into some old clothes to clear a blockage in the sewerage.
My family were also parishioners of St Anthony’s Harden about 1957-58 during Monsignor Austin O’Connor’s time.
I know all the Beath family & their cousins who moved to Curtain, ACT, having gone to school with some of them in Gooloogong.
Thanks George, wonderful memories of our childhood.
Hi George. So many memories..we are the current owners of the original stone st malachys church. Was wondering if you have any photos of the interior of the old church before everything was moved to the new church. We would really appreciate any further information and memories about the church…hope to hear from u soon. Cheers Catherine
Great to hear from you, the current owners of the old church. Unfortunately, we don’t get any notification of replies to our comments & there’s no indication of when comments & replies were made, so I don’t know how long ago you posted or if you’ll see this.
On my occasional visits back to Gooloogong I’ve noticed the restoration work on the old church building & was very impressed. I remember it being very derelict. Did you carry out this work or purchase it restored?
I don’t think I have anything to share with you unless I uncover anything in my parents’ old photos but I don’t recall any of the church. They passed away 31 years ago. My only vague memories are of the derelict building & playing in it & the grounds up until the early ’60s. All the trees also impressed me.
I’ve mentioned your inquiry to Denis, the writer of the article, incase he has access to anything & can help you.