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New Archdiocesan Administration commences operation


The new Catholic Church Administration Office, which has officially been named Griver House, has commenced operation. Photo: Jamie O’Brien

By Jamie O’Brien

The new Catholic Church Administration Office, which has officially been named Griver House, has commenced operation.

Staff from the Catholic Church Office, Archdiocesan Finance Office, Catholic Development Fund and LifeLink have last month moved into the new building at 249 Adelaide Terrace, Perth.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe explained that the new building has been named Griver House after former Perth Bishop, Martin Griver.

“Bishop Griver was a very significant figure in the early history of the Church here in Perth," Archbishop Costelloe said.

"Not only was he instrumental in the decision to build a larger Cathedral to meet the needs of a growing Catholic community, he was also a man of prayer who brought healing and stability to the Catholic community after a period of turmoil.

“His life provides an inspiring example for all of us and I hope that the entire Catholic community of the Archdiocese will be encouraged by his dedication and passion for the Church,” he said.

"It is fitting that, for the first time, a significant institution in our Archdiocese is dedicated to his memory."

Born in Granollers, near Barcelona, Spain in 1814, Martin Griver entered the seminary at 14 and subsequently enrolled in philosophy, followed by medicine and surgery. In 1845, he qualified as a doctor and surgeon.

Ordained a priest in 1847, the young clergyman volunteered for missionary work in the colony of Western Australia two year later because there were limited prospects for curates in Spain.

Following the dispute between founding bishop of the diocese, John Brady, and Benedictine, Jose Maria Benito Serra, then Father Griver remained loyal to fellow Spaniard Serra. As the dispute unfolded, Fr Griver lived in a temporary monastery established by Serra in Guildford.

Bishop Brady eventually left Western Australia and Serra was appointed Apostolic Administrator. Fr Griver was initially made chaplain of the Perth and Fremantle congregations. The young missionary also made periodic visits to the outer districts, travelling up to 1,016 miles on horseback. When on pastoral tour, Fr Griver often slept in the rough or in whatever circumstances the Catholic people were situated.

From the mid-1850s, Fr Griver remained chaplain of Perth, while also fulfilling the roles of chaplain to the Sisters of Mercy, and doctor for the Aboriginal people at New Norcia. He also regularly visited Perth jail and Fremantle Prison. Many prisoners sentenced to death received his counsel. Assisting those near death became a life-long ministry.


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe explained that the new building has been named Griver House after former Perth Bishop Martin Griver.

In 1862, Bishop Serra resigned in favour of Fr Griver. The new diocesan administrator immediately began work on a larger cathedral as the original was too small. In 1865, Pope Pius IX nominated Fr Griver Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Perth.

During the 1860s, he coordinated the construction of churches, schools and convents for the better practice of faith. Fr Griver also sought to embed Catholic doctrine in colonial society by advocating for freedom of religious education and humane treatment of the Aboriginal people and convicts.

On 19 September 1869, Fr Martin Griver was appointed Bishop of Tloa and Apostolic Administrator of Perth. The promotion recognised his work in placing the local Catholic community on a stable footing. The Church was even better provided for when he was appointed Bishop of Perth in 1873.

During the 1870s and 1880s, Bishop Griver strengthened the Catholic Church’s role in social welfare, at a time when the government offered limited social assistance.

Throughout his missionary career, he became known for his ascetic practices and deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His episcopal motto was taken from an ancient Marian prayer: Sub tuum praesidium (Under thy protection or We fly to thy protection).

The day before he died, on 1 November 1886, Bishop Griver spent the day in prayer within the sanctuary of St Mary’s Cathedral. A few days later, his funeral was attended by numerous civic and Church officials signifying the unity he created within his own community, but also with the broader colonial society.

The bell at Town Hall tolled that day, noting the passing of a remarkable churchman – a mark of respect given to few.

The Church Office will now be known as the Office of the Archbishop, Griver House, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, 249 Adelaide Terrace, Perth. The postal address will remain the same; Griver House, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, PO Box 3311, EAST PERTH WA 6892.

The new phone number is 08 6104 3650 and the new fax 08 6162 0234. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm.

The Reception phone number for all other Archdiocesan departments in Griver House is 08 6104 3600 and the new fax number 08 6162 0345, including what was formerly known as the Archdiocesan Finance Office. The mailing address remains the same - GPO Box M962 PERTH WA 6843. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.30am-5pm.

The Cathedral Parish Office will remain at 25 Victoria Avenue, Perth, WA 6000. Office hours will be 8.30am–4.30pm, Monday to Friday.