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John Bede Polding was born in Liverpool England on November 18 1794 Educated by Benedictine nuns and monks Polding joined the Benedictine community in 1811 He spend more than 20 years at Downside Abbey and was consecrated as Australias first bishop in 1834 Polding arrived in Sydney in September 1835 determined to set up a Benedictine monastery as the centre of Australian life His dream as to build a Christian society in Australia through the influence of the Benedictine way of life And although he failed to achieve this ambition he did establish two Benedictine communities of women the Benedictine Community at Jamberoo whose founding members he brought from England in 1848 and the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict which he founded in 1857 There are two characteristics which describe John Bede Polding his passion for the reign of God and his compassion for the people of God He spoke out about injustices in society and gave a voice to those who had no voice the poor the convicts the Aborigines and women During his 40 years in Australia he rode thousands of miles visiting Catholics throughout the colony Polding who was also Australias first Archbishop had a vision far ahead of his time on issues such as the local church liturgy Aborigines education and Christian culture He was truly a man of spiritual depth and discernment in touch with the society in which he lived When he died in 1877 more than 100000 people gathered for his funeral a testimony to the respect people had for him
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