Monsignor Hawes Heritage Incorporated

Become a member:



Become a member:



Who was he?

Monsignor John Hawes was born on September 7th, 1876 in Richmond, England and began training as an architect in London in 1892 at the age of 16 years. In 1903 he was ordained as an Anglican Priest and spent time as a missionary. He later converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome on February 27th, 1915.

In 1915 he was invited by Bishop Kelly of Geraldton to work as a country pastor in Western Australia. Bishop Kelly was keen to embrace Monsignor Hawes architectural skills, and asked him to build a cathedral in Geraldton.  On his arrival in Western Australia, Hawes served briefly at the parish of Mount Magnet before being recalled to Geraldton in 1916 to commence construction of his design for St Francis Xavier Cathedral.

The first stage of the cathedral was completed in 1918 but following the death of Bishop Kelly work was halted. In 1930 the new bishop of Geraldton James Patrick O’Collins, appointed Hawes the Diocesan Architect and he spent his time designing churches for many Mid West towns as well as serving as their local priest.

In 1926 work recommenced on the St Francis Xavier Cathedral and it was finally completed in 1938 when the official opening also took place. It was around this time that Hawes was honoured with the title Monsignor. He designed a small cottage, the hermitage, which was to be his retirement home, but in 1939 Monsignor Hawes left for Cat Island in the Bahamas, never to return. He lived out his life as a hermit, and died on June 26th, 1956 in Miami, Florida aged 79.

Some fine examples of the work he left behind in the Mid West are-

St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Nazareth House, The Cemetery Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Geraldton and The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and adjoining priest house in Mullewa. Monsignor Hawes created Churches in Morawa, Perenjori, Yalgoo, Carnamah, Nanson, Kojarena, Northampton and Carnarvon as well as designing the private residence of the homestead at Melangata Station north of Yalgoo.

Who are we?

The Monsignor Hawes Interim Board consists of 8 Members that are a mixture of church, shire, historical and government people. They have been an assembled group for the past two and a half years, working toward various goals and objectives including the setting up of a legal constitution, logo, a website, the creation of the Friends of Monsignor Hawes Heritage as well as procuring grants and sponsorship funding. Work has also commenced to establish the first recognised Board that will take the MHH project into the future and beyond.

What can you do?

If you are interested in the work, life and or, architecture of Monsignor Hawes we would be delighted to talk with you about how you can join us and share our enthusiasm and passion for the wonderful body of works he created in our region. The organisation requires assistance at many levels   from local volunteers in the regions to proposed Members to form the first board. If you think you might be interested and want additional information please contact us via –

Bishops House in Geraldton on 08 9921 3221

Send an E-mail to Robyn Zadow the Secretary of Monsignor Hawes Interim Board  
                                          or call her on 0427 304 254

Board Members - Click here to obtain the name and contact details of the Interim Board member for your region.

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