Len Faulkner kept the faith in the YCW

It’s five years today since the death of Archbishop Leonard Faulkner of Adelaide, Australia.

I first met Archbishop Len, as he liked to be called, or “Lenny” as we almost always called him among ourselves, at the Australian YCW National Council in May 1977.

It was a tough meeting, the first national council since 1971, with a lot of conflicting ideas.

One of the rules was that priests could not speak in plenary sessions.

Eventually, after a particularly challenging session, Bishop (as he was then) Faulkner finally stood up to interrupt and tried to have his say, before he was brutally shut down by the chair of the session.

The meeting quickly relented, however, and gave him the opportunity to speak after the coffee break.

Unlike many other bishops, he did not take this personally.

On the contrary, he maintained his faith in the movement even during the most difficult periods.

When other Australian bishops wanted to close down the YCW, he spoke up the bishops conference telling his colleagues that the YCW was a “prophetic” movement.

Thus, even after the Holy See had derecognised the International YCW 1989, he did not hesitate to allow Adelaide priest, Fr Hugh O’Sullivan, to take up a post as IYCW chaplain in Asia Pacific, based in Hong Kong.

Two years later, he welcomed the 6th World Council of the IYCW to Adelaide.

He maintained a lifelong friendship with another former international YCW chaplain, Brian Burke, who had left the priesthood and lost his faith in the Church.

A great man, great bishop, great bishop and true believer in the YCW.

Here are some further details of his life.

Stefan Gigacz

Archbishop Len

Archbishop Len Faulkner was a YCW chaplain in Adelaide, Australia, who later became episcopal delegate to the YCW for the Australian bishops.


Born on 5 December 1926 at Booleroo Centre in South Australia, Leonard Anthony Faulkner studied for the priesthood at St Francis Xavier Seminary, Stradbroke Park then at Corpus Christi College, Werribee in Victoria, where he first learned of the YCW from Fr Frank Lombard and other lay YCW and Catholic Action leaders.

He then moved to the Pontifical Urban University and Propaganda College in Rome where he was ordained on 1 January 1950 in the Chapel of the Epiphany at Propaganda Fide.

It was while studying in Rome that he first heard Cardijn speak.

Upon his return to Adelaide, he was appointed as an assistant priest at Woodville Park where he served from 1950 until 1957 when he became administrator of St Francis Xavier Cathedral.

In 1955, he was appointed diocesan chaplain of the YCW, a post he held until 1967 when he was appointed as bishop of Townsville.

For his episcopal ring, he chose to incorporate the YCW logo.

He became coadjutor of Adelaide on 2 September 1983 and was installed as archbishop on 19 June 1985. He retired on 3 December 2001.

During the mid-1970s, he supported the Australian YCW when many other bishops had lost faith in or abandoned the movement.

In 1991, he hosted the Sixth International Council of the IYCW just two years after the Holy See had withdrawn its recognition for the movement.

As bishop, he introduced many innovations. He launched an Aboriginal Ministry, the first diocese in Australian to do so.

He created a Pastoral Governance Team involving lay people and religious as well as priests.

He died on 6 May 2018.


Len Faulkner (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)


Fr Maurie Shinnick, Funeral Tribute (Adelaide Archdiocese)

Archbishop Philip Wilson, Funeral homily (Adelaide Archdiocese)

Archbishop Len, a jocist bishop (Cardijn.info)

Archbishop Len Faulkner (Wikipedia)

Archbishop Leonard Anthony Faulkner (Catholic Hierarchy)