By Anthony Barich
Archbishop Redmond Prendiville’s wisdom and forward thinking left a legacy that will be remembered for some time yet, according to his latest successor, Archbishop Barry Hickey.
During a day of festivities at Prendiville College on May 16 marking the fortieth anniversary of the death of the earlier Archbishop of Perth, Archbishop Barry Hickey spoke during a special Mass about Archbishop Prendiville’s role as shepherd of Perth’s Catholic community.
The former Archbishop served the Archdiocese of Perth for 36 years as Archbishop, from 1933-1968.
Holding Archbishop Prendiville’s crozier, Archbishop Hickey recalled Archbishop Redmond Prendiville’s dedication as a shepherd to his flock.
Archbishop Hickey also described Archbishop Prendiville’s wisdom in establishing 60 Catholic schools in Western Australia during his ministry.
He recalled that when Archbishop Prendiville acquired the land on which Prendiville Catholic College is located in present-day Ocean Reef, there were no roads leading to the area. He said that some administrators thought that Perth would never spread that far northward along the coast, but the flourishing of the northern suburbs is a tribute to the Archbishop’s foresight, as is the establishment of many other excellent Catholic schools and parishes in the area.
It is now part of folklore that Archbishop Prendiville befriended a Jewish couple, and when the husband later died the widow offered to sell him a significant parcel of land in the northern suburbs.
His advisers reportedly advised against the investment, but he went ahead in partnership with the Adelaide Steamship Company.
When the company wanted to withdraw from the deal, he took possession of the other half.
Those who bought property in the northern suburbs from the late 1970s right up to the 1990s may have noticed the names of Archbishop Prendiville’ and his successors on top of their title deeds, as the land was subdivided. Suburbs like Ocean Reef, Iluka and Currambine are all in the area that the Archbishop purchased. Among other clergy, Archbishop Hickey concelebrated the Mass that opened Prendiville Day with Fr John Prendiville SJ, a nephew of the late Archbishop Redmond Prendiville.