Episode 16

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Published on:

11th Oct 2021

S2 EP16 - Beauty and Architecture

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.

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About the Podcast

The Episcopal Podcast
The Episcopal Podcast is a show where, in the context of a friendly discussion and/or interview, we bring the elements of the Christian intellectual tradition to bear on contemporary issues.
The Episcopal Podcast is an initiative of intellectual formation by Bishop Richard Umbers, auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney.
In the context of a fortnightly informal discussion with co-hosts and guests, the podcast aims to bring awareness to the riches that make up the Christian intellectual tradition, which includes philosophy, theology, history, the sciences, languages and the arts. Conversations will last between 30 and 45 minutes and be organised around discussions on specific topics, both historical and contemporary.

The podcast will do more than visit academic museum pieces, but also bring that tradition to bear on the lives of Christians and all of good will. This flows from the basic commitment that genuine intellectual endeavour is not meant to be an opportunity to display the individual prowess of a select class, but works for the common good of all. Because of this, the podcast will make the content of the intellectual tradition as relatable as possible to as many people as possible, without losing sight of the intellectual heart of the program. Because the podcast is aimed for the common good, it also seeks to have an international focus, bringing together guests from Australia and also overseas.

The podcast also aims to partner up with established intellectual formation event providers, including but not exclusive to Scholarship in the Cathedral and the QndA series by the Institute for Ethics and Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia. This partnership could involve interviews with presenters, as well as the distribution of audio recordings arising from these events.