Date of Submission



In the early twentieth century Cardinal Patrick Moran and others, both clerical and lay, understood that the adolescent Australian Catholic Church needed physical as well as spiritual support. The Church, as trustee, had an economic imperative to care for and maintain its properties. In 1910 Moran asked Hugh Mahon, a feisty Irishman and an Australian federal politician, to establish an Australian Catholic insurance company to achieve this purpose. Moran made it clear that the primary purpose of the company was to protect the assets and properties of the Church and that the company was to serve the Church only. Mahon took as his model the Irish Catholic Church Property Insurance Company founded in Dublin in 1902 and gathered around him laymen with impeccable Catholic and business connections to support him in the running of this new company. The Irish laity had become prominent as board members and shareholders in the Irish company and the founding board members of the Australian company, with Mahon as Managing Director, were all laymen with Irish backgrounds. The thesis traces the foundation and early history of this company and analyses those practices that distinguish it from secular insurance companies during the first twenty-fives of operation. The study intertwines many strands: Episcopal vision, Irish heritage, aspirations of the Catholic community for both the religious and the laity and how the spiritual and social services of the Church’s mission were evident in the works of this new company and their supporters.


School of Theology

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


300 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Theology and Philosophy