The McCosker Orations

Monsignor James Francis (Frank) McCosker believed Catholic welfare was about inclusion, rather than exclusion of all people; about critical analysis of Government agendas rather than subservient compliance to them; and about professionalism in welfare rather than well-meaning benevolence and dependant charity.

His obituary in the Australian in 1996 declared he was devoted to those people who were mostly unable to help themselves and though he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE), an award recognising extraordinary contributions to the country, worldly honours did not change him.

In the late 1940s, as director of the Catholic Welfare Bureau in Sydney, later Centacare, McCosker built on the foundation laid in Australia by four professionally trained Catholic lay women social workers: Norma Parker, Connie Moffitt, Eileen Davidson, and Mary Lyons.

McCosker‘s vision and determination led to services like Meals on Wheels, Foster Care, Adoption Practice, the Council of Social Services, Marriage Counselling as part of Matrimonial and Family Law, Child Endowment and National Catholic Welfare. We honour the legacy of Monsignor McCosker through an Oration in his name.

  • 2021 – Professor Maria Harries AM
  • 2017 – Emeritus Professor John Warhurst
  • 2013 – Rev Tim Costello AO, CEO World Vision Australia
  • 2012 – Mr Robert Fitzgerald AM, Productivity Commissioner
  • 2011 – Sr Anne Derwin rsj, Congregational Leader, Sisters of St Joseph
  • 2010 – Fr Frank Brennan SJ AO, Professor Law, Australian Catholic University
  • 2008 – Monsignor David Cappo AO, Vice Chair Australian Social Inclusion Board, Vicar General Archdiocese of Adelaide, Commissioner for Social Inclusion South Australia
  • 2007 – Bishop Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn
  • 2006 – Professor John Warhurst, Professor of Political Science, Australian National University
  • 2005 – Professor Julian Disney, National Chair, Anti-Poverty Week and Director, Social Justice project, UNSW

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