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Bishop Patrick Phelan

Second Bishop of Sale - 1913-1925


phelanIrish-born Patrick Phelan, was the second Bishop of Sale.


He was the son of Martin Phelan and his wife Margaret, nee Collier, and was born at Johnstown, Kilkenny, Ireland, on January 2, 1856.


He began his formal education at the national school near his home, then in 1880 began studying for the priesthood at the famous Trappist Seminary at Mount Melleray Abbey, Waterford. In 1882 he went to St Patrick's College, Carlow, where he was ordained a priest by Bishop James Cleary, Bishop of Kingstown, Ontario, Canada, on May 25, 1888.


Fr Phelan came to Melbourne Archdiocese in October 1888 and was later appointed Vicar General of the Archdiocese. On November 12, 1912 Pope Pius X appointed him second Bishop of Sale. He was consecrated a bishop on March 2, 1913, by Archbishop Thomas Joseph Carr. Co-consecrators were Bishop Joseph Higgins of Ballarat and Bishop John Dunne of Wilcannia.


phelanarms2Bishop Phelan began the process to gain more parishes from the Archdiocese of Melbourne to make the Gippsland diocese more financially viable and while this process was finally successful, it did not come into fruition until 1959.


Bishop Phelan saw the need to establish a quality secondary education for Catholic boys and travelled the diocese widely raising money to establish St Patrick's College, Sale (now a campus of Catholic College Sale). The imposing college was built at a cost of about 25,000 pounds and was free of debt by 1924. A modern stadium with tiered seating was built in the early 2000s and was named in honor of Bishop Phelan.


phelanarmsThe bishop died in the Sisters of Charity Nursing Home in Dublin, Ireland, on January 5, 1925 and he is buried in the cemetery of the Catholic Church in Johnstown, Kilkenny.


His Coat of Arms features the motto Turris Fortis Mihi Deus which translates as God is a Tower of Strength to Me. The arms are based on the ancient arms of O'Faelan or O'Faolain of which Phelan is a sept. The arms are very similar to those of Bishop John Phelan, Bishop of Ossary under James II, and the motto has been borrowed from the 1831 arms of Lord Mayor of Dublin Sir Thomas Whelan (another O'Faelan sept). His official arms (at right) were not used by him, preferring instead to use the stylised arms (at left).

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Catholic Diocese of Sale
PO Box 1410, Warragul 3820
Location: Sion House, 6 Witton St., Warragul
Phone: 03 5622 6600 
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