Tom Boland - Brisbane

1929 - 7th December 2010

Fr Tom Boland not only gave his life to the priesthood for more than half a century, he also spent many years chronicling its leaders and traditions.

The youngest of six children, two of his siblings also had religious callings – his sister Norah is a Sister of Mercy nun and his brother Sam is a Redemptorist priest.

Fr Boland was educated at St Laurence's College in South Brisbane, then at St Joseph's Nudgee College before completing his secondary education at Banyo Seminary. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1953. His first parish appointment was Wavell Heights in 1954.

In 1956, Rome beckoned and he studied at the Gregorian University, gaining a doctorate in church history. Returning to Australia in 1960, he became resident church history professor at Banyo Seminary. After 16 years he was appointed parish priest at St Lucia, staying there another two years before returning to Banyo as rector of the seminary in 1978.

Sickness cut short that appointment and after a term as parish priest at Ashgrove he moved to retirement at Pomona in the parish of Noosa District where his religious literary career flourished. A great deal of Fr Boland's life was spent as a lecturer, both at the seminary and the University of Queensland. His lectures sparkled with historical facts, humour and well-founded anecdotes.

Fr Boland was a keen and insightful reader of books, both historical and ecclesiastical, and his lectures revealed a ready wit and a love for telling stories. It was little wonder then that he had a desire to write and tell more stories. His first literary effort was about the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and their founder, Julian Tenison Woods. Called Quiet Women, its publishing was a quiet affair, albeit well reviewed. If any publicity was needed, it came at the time of publication, with the naming of a mountain in memory of Fr Woods.

Fr Boland's next book was significant – and a sellout. It portrayed the life of Brisbane's third Catholic archbishop, James Duhig. There followed a biography of Melbourne's archbishop Thomas Carr, an equally engaging work but much less applauded.

The gates of Fr Boland's literary activity were now open and he followed up with works on Eileen O'Connor, the founder of the Brown Sisters; St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace; Nudgee College; and the life of Bernard Wallace, late bishop of Rockhampton. At the time of his death, Fr Boland was compiling information for a book on the late Monsignor Bartholomew Frawley, the first parish priest of Scarborough.

A busy man, Fr Boland nevertheless found time to pursue his love of surfing and swimming. While on the teaching staff at Banyo, he would forgo the midday meal in favour of laps in the seminary pool. He also loved boats and boating, but detested fishing. As a child, in order to placate his father, he would cast a line but used no bait. He was a competent surfer, and the swells at Mooloolaba and Noosa were his playground when he found time. What mattered most to those who knew Fr Boland was his sociability.

Often quiet and reserved, he took his place in company with conversation and interest. He was a wonderful guest, would enjoy any meal set before him and willingly take his share of the chores. He was by right a doctor but never claimed the title and would introduce himself simply as Father.

Fr Boland suffered a serious car accident in the early 1960s and although his facial injuries were a worry to those around him they were not to him. By sheer will and compliance with the medical attention of those days, he made a remarkable comeback.

Fr Boland is survived by his sister Norah and brother Sam.

 -- Fr Harry Bliss

  • Created: 13 December 2010
  • Modified: 30 December 2010