Good News since 1956

The first Catholic Development Fund was established in Melbourne in 1956 for the purpose of raising capital to build Catholic schools. It was founded by Fr James ‘Jim’ Wall and was originally called the Schools Provident Fund (SPF).

In a city experiencing a post-war population boom, the Church built the Fund on the faith of the Catholic people, to whom the education of their children was of vital importance. Set up on a co-operative basis, the Fund allowed Catholics living in the more settled parishes of Melbourne to assist schools in the developing areas. 

This success led to a movement which saw the start of similar Funds throughout Australia and New Zealand. In 2014 CDF Melbourne amalgamated with the Diocese of Sale CDF and in 2016 with the Diocese of Bunbury CDF, forming a single CDF serving three Dioceses.

Today, there are 22 Development Funds across Australia, funding a wide range of Catholic infrastructure beyond schools to better serve the Catholic and wider community. In December 2017 CDF Melbourne partnered with 10 other Dioceses to offer a dedicated Fund for lay investors known as CDF Community Fund.

Father of the Funds: Fr James ‘Jim’ Wall


Early Life

Fr Wall was one of eight children born to Thomas and Bridget Wall. He grew up in Glenlyon, Victoria, in the Parish of St Peter’s, Daylesford. His initial career path led him to pursue teaching, a field he became extremely passionate about. 

Priesthood

Following his ordination on 29 July 1947, Fr Wall commenced as an assistant priest at Sacred Hearth Parish, Preston and served the Parishes of Essendon, West Essendon, Blackburn and Croydon. In 1993 he was appointed Pastor Emeritus of Sacred Heart Parish, Croydon. During his tenure as Diocesan Director of Vocations, more men entered the seminary than any other period.

Schools Provident Fund 

Fr Wall was credited for initiating the idea to build the first regional secondary school in Sacred Heart Parish, Preston. 

He founded the Schools Provident Fund (SPF) in 1956, which eventually became the major source of borrowing for Parish and regional schools at the time. Fr Wall served as the first Secretary and Administrator, where he was later bestowed the honorary title, ‘Father of the Funds.’ 

Upon opening in 1957, Sacred Heart Parish Primary School, Preston was an instant success, and laid out the framework to fund the construction of new schools in the archdiocese of Melbourne which was experiencing a post-war population boom. 

Legacy 

Fr Wall’s impact to the Roman Catholic Church in Australia was substantial. The Church investment fund movements subsequently spread throughout Australia and New Zealand, funding a wide range of Catholic infrastructure beyond schools. 

Pictured above: James Benedict Wall (14 June 1919 – 2 January 2002) was an Australian Roman Catholic priest, credited for founding CDF.

Pictured below: Archbishop Little and Fr Wall