Reverend creates history as first indigenous canon

By Brendan Rees

Reverend Glenn Loughrey of St Paul’s Cathedral has made history after being appointed as the first indigenous canon in the cathedral’s history.     

The much-loved parish priest, artist, and Wiradjuri man said he was “both excited and humbled” by the honour which also saw him named as artist in residence this month.

Based in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, Rev Canon Loughrey combines his passions for the arts and justice for First Nations people with his ministry as a priest.

It is the first time in the Cathedral’s 141-year history that Rev Canon Loughrey has become the first Aboriginal canon – which is a member of the cathedral’s chapter of priests and responsible for the cathedral’s administration.  

“I am both excited and humbled to be appointed as the Cathedral Canon – artist-in-residence and to be the first to represent First Nations People in the Mother Church of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne in this way,” he said. 

“Creativity is central to both my traditions (Anglican and Wiradjuri) and I look forward to watching what comes into being within the Cathedral and the diocese as a result of this appointment.”

Rev Canon Loughrey came to Melbourne in 2015 to lead the parish of St Oswald’s in Glen Iris after serving Anglican churches in Queensland and New South Wales.

His artwork fuses Indigenous art styles with western forms of storytelling, which has seen him as a finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize (2018) and the Mandorla, Blake and Paddington Art prizes (2020).

His works have been exhibited at St Paul’s Cathedral, St John’s Cathedral Brisbane and in churches and galleries in Victoria and New South Wales, including the Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square. 

Rev Canon Loughrey’s current exhibition, Love Letters to Country, is showing at Hearth Art Healesville until August 31.

During the past two years, he has also worked with the chapter on the creation of a large-scale First Nations glass artwork to pay tribute to the traditional owners of the lands on which St Paul’s Cathedral stands.

By etching his name in the history books, Rev Canon Loughrey is the second First Nations artist-in-residence, following Maori artist and priest Regan O’Callaghan.

The Dean of Melbourne, the Very Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe said he was delighted that chapter had made the historic appointment of Rev Canon Loughrey.

“Canon Glenn’s appointment honours the strong contribution he has already made—through the arts and cultural education—to the Cathedral’s journey with First Nations people,” he said.

“We recognise that his full-time ministry as a priest will very much continue to be at St Oswald’s Church. I very much look forward to his commissioning as a Cathedral canon and artist in residence, and the installation of two of his art works at St Paul’s later this month.” •

Caption: Reverend Canon Glenn Loughrey of St Paul’s Cathedral (right) with the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe.

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