In Episode 16, Bishop Richard speaks with Fr. Don Richardson, Dean of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. They discuss Church Architecture and Fr Don’s new book, Beauty and Light with Faith.
Fr Don Richardson has been Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral since 2016, but his association with the cathedral goes back further. He regards St Mary’s as his spiritual home, a sanctuary where people are given a glimpse of the divine even in the midst of life’s worldly cares.
As a young working man Fr Richardson worshipped regularly at St Mary’s. He became an acolyte there, and in 1985 he worked full-time as the sacristan. It was then that he began to make notes on the cathedral’s stained glass windows. A trip to see the great cathedrals of Britain, and his seminary studies from 1986, helped enrich his appreciation for St Mary’s. For several years each January, during the seminary summer breaks, he returned to the cathedral to conduct daily guided tours.
Ordained a priest in St Mary’s in 1992, Fr Richardson went on to serve successively in the Sydney parishes of Mount Pritchard and Menai. Then, appointed Assistant Priest at the cathedral by Cardinal Clancy in 1997, he remained there until the end of 2003. Fr Richardson subsequently took up the pastoral care of the parish of Dulwich Hill until, in 2009, Cardinal Pell asked him to do postgraduate studies at the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein, near Chicago, in the United States. This study further deepened his appreciation of how the cathedral’s stained glass windows can draw people towards God.
Fr Richardson returned to Sydney in 2010 to serve as Parish Priest of Woollahra and as Director of the Archdiocesan Liturgy Office, and he remained at Woollahra until his appointment back to the cathedral as Administrator and Dean by Archbishop Fisher in 2016. He thinks he has the best job in the whole Australian Church.