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Father Tucker by Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Tucker, Gerard  Kennedy (1885  - 1974)

The Reverend Father Gerard Tucker, founder of the Brotherhood of St Laurence.  (1930)


Tucker, Gerard Kennedy (1885–1974)

by Ruth Carter

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990 (This is a shared entry with Horace Finn Tucker)

Horace Finn Tucker (1849-1911) and Gerard Kennedy Tucker (1885-1974), Anglican clergymen, were father and son. Horace was born on 13 October 1849 at Cambridge, England, third child of Joseph Kidger Tucker, clergyman, and his wife Elizabeth, née Finn. Joseph was appointed Australian agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the family arrived in Sydney in 1861.

Educated at Moore Theological College, New South Wales, Horace was made deacon in 1873 and ordained priest in 1874. On 10 September 1873 he had married Caroline Lavinia, daughter of William Adams Brodribb at St Andrew's Anglican Church, Brighton, Melbourne. His first parishes were in central Victoria where his sermons and pioneering spirit attracted the attention of Bishop Moorhouse. Promoted in 1880 to the prosperous Melb

ourne parish of Christ Church, South Yarra, Tucker set up three mission churches and established a grammar school.

During the depression of the 1890s Horace and Rev. Charles Strong promoted a scheme for resettling the unemployed in country areas. In 1892-94 Tucker Village Settlements, of about 200 families, were established in Gippsland and central Victoria, but were unable to continue due to lack of capital, worsening economic conditions and mismanagement. Recognizing their efforts, the government passed a Settlement of Lands Act (1893) to provide for future village community settlements. Horace published The New Arcadia (1894), a novel based on the ideals of the Tucker settlements, as well as a book of verse, After Many Days (1905), a study of the Christian saints, Lights for Lesser Days (1909), and articles on social issues.


Elected in 1894 a canon of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne, he retired from Christ Church in 1908, but continued parish work in outer suburbs until he died of a cerebral haemorrhage at Glen Iris on 22 December 1911. He was buried in St Kilda cemetery. His wife, three daughters and three sons survived him. A tall man of striking appearance—bald in later life—with a high forehead and luxuriant dark beard, Tucker was remembered by his parishioners for his good-humour, compassion and public service.

His son, Gerard Kennedy, was born on 18 February 1885 at South Yarra, Melbourne. From childhood he wanted to follow his father and grandfather into the Church. His years at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School were undistinguished; small and slight, he had a severe stammer which seemed likely to prevent him from entering the ministry. On leaving school, he worked briefly in a sugar factory and on a relation's farm, but neither experience proved successful and his father finally agreed that he should study for the priesthood. In 1908 Gerard entered St John's Theological College, Melbourne; with four other students, he approached Archbishop Henry Lowther Clarke, offering to work as celibate priests among the poor in the inner city. The idea was rejected as impractical, but it foreshadowed Tucker's later achievement.

Having failed his final examinations through extreme nervousness, in 1910 he offered his services as deacon to a parish in north-west Australia; he was totally unsuited to outback conditions and after a few months returned to Melbourne. There he was ordained priest in 1914, becoming curate of St George's, Malvern. On the outbreak of war he asked to be posted overseas as a chaplain. When this request was refused, he enlisted as a private soldier and sailed for the Middle East in December 1915. Three months later he was appointed chaplain to the Australian Imperial Force and served in Egypt and France until late 1917 when he was invalided back to Australia. In 1919 he published As Private and Padre with the A.I.F.

In 1920 Tucker was appointed to a parish near Newcastle, New South Wales, where he met Guy Colman Cox who shared his dream of a community of serving priests and in 1930 they founded the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Its four original members pledged to remain unmarried while part of the brotherhood, to live frugally and to practise an active community life. The first B.S.L. Quarterly Notes were published in 1932 for their supporters; over the next forty years they aired many important social issues.

At the invitation of Archbishop Head, in 1933 the Brotherhood of St Laurence moved to Melbourne where Tucker became curate at St Peter's Church, Eastern Hill, and missioner of St Mary's Mission, Fitzroy. In 1937-42 he was vicar of St Cuthbert's, East Brunswick. His first project was a hostel for homeless, unemployed men. In 1935 he devised a plan to move them and their families to a nearby farming community. Like his father's earlier schemes, this project was not altogether successful, but Gerard's settlement at Carrum Downs remained and by 1944 had become an effective community retirement village. It provided housing and activities for the elderly and later expanded to include self-contained flats for the infirm, as well as a cottage hospital.

Other major welfare schemes initiated by Fr Tucker included a hostel for homeless boys, a club for elderly pensioners, a seaside holiday home for poor families and an opportunity shop. His slight frame, clear blue eyes, horn-rimmed spectacles and hesitant voice became familiar to the people of Melbourne as he campaigned for the abolition of slums. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1956.


Gerard had moved in 1949 to Carrum Downs where he soon embarked on his new project, 'Food for Peace'. He encouraged residents at the settlement to contribute from their pensions to send a shipment of rice to India. Supporting groups formed throughout Australia and in 1961, as Community Aid Abroad, they became a national organization. Tucker published pamphlets in support of the project and, in 1954, an autobiography.


Another settlement for the elderly, St Laurence Park, opened at Lara, Victoria, in 1959. Tucker moved into its first cottage where he remained until his death at Geelong on 24 May 1974. He was buried in Melbourne general cemetery.


Source: Ruth Carter, 'Tucker, Gerard Kennedy (1885–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 23 October 2018.

Link to website

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990


Brief notes: 


  • Born Melbourne 1885, son of Canon Horace Tucker and Caroline Lavinia Brodribb, of Christ Church, South Yarra.  Educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, ordained in 1914.
  • Served as Private and Chaplain in AIF France (1915 - 1919). [1]
  • Priest in charge, then Rector of Adamstown Diocese of Newcastle (NSW), 1920 - 1933.
  • Began the Brotherhood of St Laurence on 8 December 1930.
  • Brotherhood transferred to Melbourne in 1933.
  • Appointed as missioner to St Mary’s Mission within the parish of St Peter’s, Eastern Hill in Melbourne - both he and Guy Cox licensed as curates in the same parish (1933)
  •  Moved to Carrum Downs (1948)
  • Honoured with an OBE (1956)
  • Left Carrum Downs (aged 75) and became the first resident at St Laurence Park. (1959)
  • Father Tucker's family history by Hilda Camer cousin to Father Tucker (1960), includes a family tree of the Tucker Family starting with Joseph Kidger Tucker & his wife Elizabeth Finn.
  •  Died 24 May 1974. [2]Obituary_Tucker-An_Appreciation_1974-6.pdf
  • Ruth Carter, 'Tucker, Gerard Kennedy (1885–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tucker-gerard-kennedy-9259/text15571, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 22 May 2017 
  • A Melbourne saint who got things done / Peter Hollingworth [article ]The Melbourne Anglican, February 2012


At the BSL's Annual General Meeting on 8 December 2010 marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Brotherhood of St Laurence,  a resolution was proposed and supported that Father Gerard Tucker be included as a 'Holy Person' in all appropriate Anglican Prayer calendars. BSL_2010-AGM-Draft-Minutes_re-Tucker-as-Holy-Person.pdf



Left to right:

Fr Tucker in uniform, 1914.

Fr Tucker and his family (Horace Tucker, Lavinia, Doris and Gerard. South Yarra.)

Fr Tucker outside his cottage "Austin" at St Laurence Park.

Fr Tucker at Carrum Downs.


Select Bibliography

  • I. R. Carter, God and Three Shillings (Melb, 1967)
  • C. R. Badger, The Reverend Charles Strong and the Australian Church (Melb, 1971)
  • J. Handfield, Friends and Brothers (Melb, 1980)
  • People (Sydney), 20 Dec 1950, 27 Mar 1963
  • Australasian, 4 July 1896
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 Dec 1911
  • Herald (Melbourne), 6 Sept 1947, 5 Jan 1957.



Tuxen, Thelma

1966 to 1968 Thelma worked with the Personal Canvass team of the Salvage Division.

1968 to 1985 she was the Organiser for the Auxiliaries and the fairs.

1985 she was appointed the Retail and Auxiliaries Manger.

1993 Thelma retired and the Brotherhood put on a special afternoon tea for her at the Town Hall.

1997 Thelma was nominated by the Charter Members of the Brotherhood to receive Life Membership in recognition of her many years of exceptional and untiring service.

Extractions from BSL newsletters that mention Thelma over the years




Thomson, Peter Ashley (1936-2010)

Chaplain, Brotherhood of St Laurence (2001-2008)

Peter was born 19 March 1936

In 1959 Peter was ordained as an Anglican priest in Australia. Peter took on the creation and management of various community projects under the auspices of the Anglican Church within its parish framework.

In 1969 Peter was invited to become Chaplain in Australia's most exciting educational experiment this century: Timbertop. Yearly, two hundred 15 year olds took part in this educational outdoor campus. Peter stayed involved in this for 15 years, as Chaplain from 1969 to 1972, at which time he took leave to go to Oxford University, and then returned to Timbertop as Principal from 1975 to 1983.

In 1983 Peter was appointed Principal of a University College in Adelaide, during which time he continued to pursue his interest in community regeneration. This led him to being selected to chair the Social Justice Advisory Committee established to give independent advice to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet of the South Australian Government on Social Justice Issues.

In 1996, in the run up to the General Election, Peter returned to England to support Tony Blair, a close personal friend of 25 years from his Oxford days. During his time in the UK.

Peter was a pioneer of the social enterprise movement and a founding member of the Social Entrepreneurs Network (SEN) in Australia, and worked closely with Andrew Mawson in the UK in establishing the Community Action Network (CAN). 

From 2001 on, Peter spent most of his time with his family in Melbourne, and worked as Chaplain for the Brotherhood of St Laurence until 2008.

In the 2005 Queen's Birthday Australian Honours, Peter was made a Member (AM) in the General Division for "service to the community through the support of projects to assist and improve social justice and community development".

Peter died on 16 January 2010

Memorial service will recognise a man of courage and faith (Brotherhood website March 5, 2010)

Charismatic priest who charmed a prime minister (Sydney Morning Herald February 15, 2010 )

Priest had big influence on everyone he met (The Age January 29, 2010)
The Keys of the Kingdom (Australian story transcript 29 June, 2010)


Taylor, Janet (1988 - March 2014)

Senior Researcher, Research and Policy Centre


Janet Taylor worked in the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood since 1988. She has a background in social work and sociology and has undertaken research on immigrants and refugees, health needs, young people, unemployment and attitudes to poverty. One of her main projects at the Brotherhood has been the longitudinal Life Chances Study.[3]

List of major projects Janet worked on.

Visitors to this page:


  1. For an appreciation of the impact on Tucker of his wartime experiences see the interview with historian Michael McKernan on "The Australian Churches and the Great War", the ABC Religion Report, 4 August 2004 at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/relrpt/stories/s1168711.htm
  2. See http://www.whitehat.com.au/cemetery/Graves/Tucker.asp for a photo of his gravestone in the Melbourne General Cemetery (Reverend Guy Colman Cox is buried in the same grave).
  3. Bio information given by Janet Taylor when she retired, along with the list of projects she worked on.

Comments (1)

phollingworth@telstra.com said

at 3:59 pm on Mar 10, 2011

GKTucker Superior of the Brotherhood of St Laurence from 1930 until his death. Known to BSL students in the 1930's as 'Suppie'.
At the 80th anniversay Annual General Meeting Bishop Peter Hollingworh moved and Bishop Michael Challen seconded with Eric Hart speaking in support, that Fr. Gerard Kennedy Tucker be named as an 'Holy Person' in the national Anglican Calender. The matter was referred to the Archbishop of Melbourne also the President of BSL, who brought the proposal to the Provincial Council for further action within the Victorian Church and ultimately the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia.

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