After Ward’s death on 2nd July 1949, his widow, Jessie, took upon herself
the task of bringing up young John and training him to carry on with the Work his father had founded, till long after her
own death. When John was young, this training consisted of very basic spiritual matters, of which perhaps the most significant
was the fact that she regularly received messages from Ward which she typed up as short letters. Bishop Cuffe still has them
today and even now finds spiritual guidance within them.
John was five when the community left Cyprus for Australia,
arriving in Sydney on 20th January 1955. Later
that year after much hardship, the community was finally able to rent a house in the seaside suburb of Bondi, where John was
sent to school. This however, lasted only just over a year and from 1957 onwards, John was educated at home by Jessie Ward,
herself a former schoolteacher.
Later in 1957, the community moved to the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and Jessie fell sick. Although she recovered she was warned the take it easy whilst
she convalesced and feeling herself “sent away” to recover, she went to Redcliffe, in the state of Queensland,
whilst the rest of the community remained in New South Wales. She was accompanied
by one of the younger sisters and young John. She continued his training and at the end of 1960 he finished his formal worldly
education. For the next four years Jessie Ward trained him in spiritual matters, but she also encouraged him to continue to
learn by studying books on any worthwhile subject.
Monk and Priest
After she died on February 4th 1965, John was re-united with the rest of the
community in the Blue Mountains, and it was there that he formally became a monk, as a postulant
of the community. Later that year the community moved to Queensland
and bought a property at Caboolture. There after 19 years of wandering they made themselves a home once more.
They named the property “St Michaels” and over the next few years, John was
involved mainly with farm work, both at St Michaels’ and elsewhere, for the community was poor, the farm new, and he
and several of the other “boys” had to go out to work, thus earning the money that helped to maintain the community,
whose first objective was to build a church..
The Church of Christ the King was consecrated on September 9th 1967 and it was in that
Church that John began taking holy orders and took his Final Vows as a monk, dedicating his life to the service of God and
his fellow mortals. By this time the farm was developing and John worked there, no longer for outside people, but in 1970,
just after turning 21, he, with his ecclesiastical superior, Bishop Francis Ball, founded what later became the Caboolture
and Districts Soccer Club. Never a good sportsman, John was always more involved with administration than with playing and
as the club expanded, he took on multiple roles, including those of coach and referee. At first he was virtually a one-man
band in these areas, but eventually, growing support by the parents of junior players and other volunteers, allowed him to
step aside in 1975.
This was as well, for having completed his formal training he was ordained to the priesthood
on 8th September 1974 and for the next few years Father John Cuffe served as theological advisor to Bishop Ball,
his chief pastoral assistant and secretary to the Church synod.
John and Jill Cuffe
During this period the Church
of Christ the King attracted many worshippers, and had to be extended
in 1978. “Father John” assisted in the physical work of construction and was also responsible for running the
poultry section of the community farm. This included what was then the most substantial duck-breeding and raising business
in Queensland, that also involved slaughtering them and
selling to local restaurants.
It was also during this period that he first met his future wife, Jill then an 18-year-old
self-employed music teacher, who first attended church in mid 1978 and eventually joined the Community. The two married in 1983, but John then suffered a serious illness that caused him to begin a serious
re-assessment of his life and activities.
As a result, he, Jill and their first son, John jnr, left the community in early 1986,
with the intention of constructing a new church to help to spread the Message of Christ’s Coming. Totally without income,
they were initially supported by Jill’s parents, Vic and Sylvia Brown, who also provided them with land on which to
By May 1986, John had been able to obtain employment in the insurance industry, where
initially he was quite successful. Long used to study, he soon mastered his new trade and often found himself being called
upon by his new companions to explain technical aspects of policy or financial matters. His fellow agents came from many different
religious backgrounds, but generally treated him with respect, and he quickly learned to respond to various terms of endearment
such a “padre” and “J.C”.
With his success came a new ability to borrow money, and he was able to commence building,
firstly a home for his growing family and then a church building in which they could worship. In this he was greatly assisted
by his father-in-law Vic Brown, a professional builder, who contributed his labour free of charge who also made financial
contributions as did many other supporters, Services had initially been held in the Browns’ home and then in his own,
but this now came to an end.
St Ceeelia’s Church
On St Cecelia’s Day, 22nd November 1989, St Cecelia’s Church was
consecrated by Archbishop Peter Gilbert Strong, who with John’s step-father, Bishop Maurice Cuffe, consecrated him later
that same day.
The establishment of St Basil’s Theological College also dates from this period,
during which a number of John’s supporters began taking minor orders, including especially his wife Jill, who went on
to become a deaconess before being formally installed as Abbess of the church community based around St Cecelia’s Church.
This educational outreach was extended in 1993 when St Cecelia’s Church commenced to offer tuition in music as the Caboolture College of Music which today has nearly 200 students. St Basil’s
still provides training for young clergy, offering courses based upon the writings of John Ward and John Cuffe
The cost of building the Church had been considerable and in the early 1990’s, despite
help from many people, the bulk of the financial burden was being borne by John Cuffe himself
At first all seemed well, for his insurance and financial services business continued
to flourish, although increasingly he was also required to provide spiritual help to growing numbers of people. John has always
welcomed all and accepted them at face value. Perhaps like many good men he has been too trusting, for like Christ Himself
he has often been betrayed by those he had befriended and helped.
During the middle 1990's his generosity and commitments placed increasing demands on funds,
and eventually, due largely to the activities of a “business partner” he found himself forced into personal bankruptcy
in 1995. Despite increasingly desperate efforts to save it, his businesses collapsed the following year
Forty-seven years of age and bankrupt, Bishop John Cuffe now found himself virtually unemployable.
On the complaint of one creditor, his bankruptcy was extended from the normal three years to eight and the only significant
job offers he received during that whole period required him work on a trial basis for some time with little or no pay. But
desperate for work he sometimes did so though often he did not even receive enough to cover his work-related costs.
Not only John himself, but also his family and Church have been consistently attacked
and threatened over this period. These have ranged from anonymous and vague threats to "get him", abusive phone calls, some
involving death threats and claims by creditors to legal harassment and threats of imprisonment.
Official Recognition and Successes
Despite this, the last decade has also included a number of high points for Bishop Cuffe,
including the ordinations of three of his sons and the baptism of a former Jew. He has also become one of the official ministers
for the local Returned Services League, officiating on occasions such as the local Remembrance Day ceremonies.
In addition he has been able to provide spiritual and theological help to many people,
both ministers and lay persons, through the internet. Face to face, through St Basil’s College and via the internet he continues to make
what he believes to be a worthwhile contribution to the great task of spreading the Message of Christ’s Coming across
Since the late 1990's John's main energies have been channelled into his writing. Most
importantly he has written more than a million words for the theology course he has created to train clergy in the teachings
of John and Jessie Ward. He has classified and clarified those teachings, converting them from mystical inspirations to a
comprehensive theological system that can be presented to the world at large, not merely to a select few.
Perhaps, most important of his writings is the massive and scholarly analysis of the book
of Genesis entitled "The Lost Wisdom of Melchizedek", begun by Ward himself before his death, but never finished. Cuffe himself
ascribes the concept to Ward, but accepts responsibility for the bulk of the translation and analysis. Like his father, he
has also written novels and poetry.
Cuffe's writing style is unusual in that he does not work on one book at a time, but simply
writes "as the Holy Spirit moves him" in much the same way as he preaches in church.
Saving the Church
Perhaps because of these many efforts the last decade has also been a time of many trials,
for the powers of this world will always be eager to attack those who dedicate their lives to the Service of God, and
none more than those who are trying to prepare the Way for Christ’s Coming.
On two separate occasions during that period, the mortgagees of St Cecelia’s foreclosed,
and John, bankrupt and unemployed, could do nothing to help. Fortunately other church members and supporters, notably
Vic Brown and Maurice Cuffe, by mortgaging their own properties, were able to save the Church, but only at considerable additional
cost. Even today, repayments are about $2000 per month and although others help John has accepted the responsibility of providing
most of this money and despite still living on welfare he has done so, though at the cost of raising his eight children in
a level of poverty almost unknown in the First world.
Nevertheless, the Cuffe Family has generally been a happy one – perhaps because
“the family that prays together stays together”. From the beginning of their marriage John and Jill have accepted
that those who dedicate their lives to the service of God will suffer persecution and hardship and certainly this has been
true in their own case, but in general they feel blessed by the children God has sent them.
Their three older sons are all training for the Priesthood. In addition, James (20) is studying at the University of Queensland and due to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree on December 12th
2007. John (22), Joseph (19) and Jessica (16) are all in fulltime employment. Julia (15) works part-time and she, together with Jeanne (13), Janet (9) and Joshua (7) are being educated at home.
This alone occupies both John and Jill for many hours per week.
Persecution and Sufferings.
John’s first taste of real persecution came in the early 1970’s when he was
responsible for the running of the local soccer club and a disgruntled parent accused him of having an affair with another
parent. The lady was one of the club’s most active volunteers, with whom, of necessity, he often worked closely. She
was also nearly twice his age! Eventually the accusations were withdrawn and the accuser apologised.
Health problems have affected both John and Jill almost since they began their life together.
John had viral pneumonia in 1983 and has suffered from high blood pressure ever since. He underwent a hernia operation in
1985, then when it proved unsuccessful had to undergo emergency surgery some years later, which resulted in him losing a significant
section of bowel. Jill also has health problems. She fractured her spine in a fall in January 1988 and as a
result, spent several weeks in hospital. There it was discovered that she suffers from a degenerative spinal condition and
more recently she has also been diagnosed with anti-phospholipid syndrome, a many-faceted complaint that frequently incapacitates
her for days at a time. Even their children have not been immune from health problems, and most recently, in November 2006,
their youngest son Joshua, became desperately ill with encephalitis. He was hospitalised
for a fortnight, but though brain-damaged, is now recovering.
However, his personal and family problems have not saved Bishop Cuffe from the attacks
of the world. In the years leading up to his bankruptcy he was frequently subjected to harassment by creditors and also by
others, largely because he was often blamed for the actions of his associates. His training as a monk has meant that, as St Paul once advocated, he has often been ready to accept blame for
the actions of others and this had at times led to abuse, punishment and even death threats. Additionally, official investigators
have often tried to link him with criminal charges being laid against his one or more of his associates, a process that still
On the other hand, Bishop Cuffe is still working for God, and it should be noted, that
neither of the companies that most aggressively attacked him in connection with his bankruptcy continue as independent businesses
today. Prudential Assurance, was taken over soon afterwards, whilst FAI, whose vicious attack led to an extension of his bankruptcy,
was first taken over by CIC and then involved in the massive scandal that surrounded its collapse soon afterwards.
This indicates that God is often prepared to act against those who persecute His Servants,
although unfortunately He usually will not do so until they have inflicted considerable pain on them. This, of course, is
because karma demands that an individual or organisation be punished for what it has done, not for what it may do. The same
principle was illustrated in Ward’s life, when Inskip suffered a stroke and was thereby forced into premature retirement,
but not till some months after his intervention had turned the Lough Case against Ward.
There is no doubt that in the future the powers of the world will continue to attack Bishop
Cuffe and the Orthodox Catholic Church of the New Age, just as they persecuted Churchill Sibley, and of course, Ward himself,
for this is one of the hallmarks of those who are striving to reach sanctity. Few men in history have so consistently
worked for God throughout their whole lives as has Bishop Cuffe. Not only his own time, but often that of his family
has been completely devoted to the furtherance of God's Plans as he perceived them and we who support Bishop Cuffe, can only pray that he
may continued to be protected from the efforts of his persecutors.
We also pray that whatever happens, both he and the Church he serves may remain loyal
to Christ the King until He does at length Come Again TO TAKE HIS POWER AND REIGN.