Skip Navigation

Mystics, Theologians & God-Botherers: Frank Coaldrake

St John's Cathedral, Brisbane

Sun 04 Oct 2020 @18:00-20:00 UTC+10

St John's Cathedral's guest is Bill Coaldrake who will be speaking about Frank Coaldrake. In 1970 Frank William Coaldrake was elected as Archbishop of Brisbane, but died suddenly, twelve days after his election, and before he could be consecrated. Fifty years later, Frank’s son Bill reflects on his father’s extraordinary life.
Throughout his life Frank Coaldrake fought creatively and unremittingly against social injustice and war. Born in Brisbane in 1912, Frank found his vocation as a priest while working as the warden of the Boy’s Hostel at Charleville for the Bush Brotherhood.
In 1939, with the outbreak of war in Europe, he founded The Peacemaker, which was to serve as the monthly newspaper for Australian pacifists. In his work with the newly formed Brotherhood of St. Laurence in Melbourne he adopted Gandhi’s tactics of non-violent civil disobedience.
Seeking “to make our enemies our friends” he unsuccessfully tried to go to Japan as part of a humanitarian mission in 1943. He was to become the first Australian civilian to enter Occupied Japan after the war. He founded St Mary’s Church, Izu.
At the end of 1956, Coaldrake returned to Australia with his young family as the new Chairman of ABM. He was to play a critical role in redefining ‘mission’ in the post-colonial era. He also set out to change the policies of the Church in Australia towards Aboriginal people, from a history of “assimilation” to one based on mutual “acceptance”.
Frank’s son, William H. Coaldrake, was born in Japan while his parents were based there after the war. He received his doctorate from Harvard University and became a specialist on the history of Japanese architecture and restoring heritage buildings. He was Foundation Professor of Japanese at the University of Melbourne for 14 years. After that he moved back to Japan, based in the Department of Architecture at the University of Tokyo.
Bill was just eighteen years old when his father died but he feels like he has been meeting Frank Coaldrake again in many guises ever since, through the countless people in Australia and Japan who were inspired by him, and through editing the Coaldrake family records in collaboration with his mother Maida.
This event will be held over Youtube and Zoom. Evensong can be accessed at 6pm on our YouTube channel at From 7pm we will join together via Zoom for an address and Q&A. The Zoom link is or Dial in 07 3185 3730 Meeting ID: 768 010 419# Password 267366# Participant: #.

< Back