Bishop Francis Xavier Thomas, Geraldton's fifth bishop, and the third to come from Victoria was aged 56 years and had been a Bendigo priest for 32 years.‚‚  He was faced by the fresh challenge of new mining ventures, this time the iron won in the Pilbara, requiring the establishment of a dozen churches and mass centres to cater for a very mobile catholic population.‚‚  At the same time schools saw the decline in the number of religious teachers to less than the‚‚  number‚‚  50 years early.‚‚  And with the reorganisation, the number of schools actually decreased while enrolments continued to reach record levels.‚‚  His 19 years in charge finished when he reached 75 in 1981, followed by his death in retirement 6 years later.