Archbishop Francis Roberts Rush
Archbishop Francis Roberts Rush was born in Townsville on 11 September 1916, one of the four sons of Thomas and Mary [nee Roberts] Rush. He was educated at St Joseph’s School, The Strand, Townsville, and Christians Brothers Schools at Townsville, St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace and Mt Carmel, Charters Towers. His seminary formation began at St Columba’s Springwood, New South Wales and was completed in Rome at the Propaganda Fide College.
He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on 18 March 1939. Following his return to Australia he served at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Townsville (1939-1944), Mundingburra (1944-1950), Ingham (1950-1954). Fr Rush then became Parish Priest of Abergowrie (1954-1957) and Ingham (1957-1960).
On 8 February 1961 he was ordained Bishop of Rockhampton in St Joseph’s Cathedral. Of significance was his participation in all sessions of the Second Vatican Council. On 5 March 1973 he was appointed to the Metropolitan See of Brisbane. Archbishop Rush was installed as Archbishop of Brisbane on 29 May 1973 and he led this Archdiocese until his retirement on 3 December 1991. In May 1983 he was elected the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, a post he held for three years.
Archbishop Rush’s greatest dream was to see St Stephen’s Cathedral restored to the principles of the reformed liturgy. This was finally achieved in 1989. He wished that the cathedral and its environment be opened up to the people of Brisbane as a place of welcome and prayer. The development of this Centre named in his honour, and the outside liturgical space are in accord with his vision for the Cathedral precinct.
Francis Rush died on 21 July 2001. This outline of significant dates and places cannot sufficiently express the magnitude of his contribution to the life of both the Church in Queensland and in particular the local Church of Brisbane as priest and bishop, wise and prudent leader and friend.
Archbishop Rush is remembered with affection for his compassion, wise leadership, humility and the depth and conviction of his faith in Jesus Christ.
His Episcopal motto sums up his life and his faith: Mihi Vivere Christus – life for me is Christ. Philippians 1:21