John Alexius Bathersby was born in Stanthorpe on 26th July, 1936, the son of John Thomas and Grace Maud (nee Conquest) Bathersby.
He has an older sister, Carmel, a younger brother, Michael, and two younger sisters, Suzanne and Anne.
His father was a shopkeeper and publican at the "Country Club Hotel" in Stanthorpe.
He did his primary schooling at St Joseph's Stanthorpe, (1941 - 1950) and, for his secondary schooling, boarded at Nudgee College (1951 - 1954).
From school, he entered Pius XII Seminary, Banyo, to begin his training for the priesthood and, on completion of those studies (1955 - 1961), he was ordained in his home Parish of Stanthorpe by Bishop William Brennan on 30th June, 1961.
His first seven years as a Priest were spent as an Associate Pastor and Administrator at Goondiwindi before being sent to Rome for further studies in 1969 where he completed a licentiate in Theology at the Gregorian University, and a Diploma in Spirituality at the Terasianum University.
He was then appointed to Pius XII Seminary in Brisbane where he served as Spiritual Director for seven years before returning to Rome for a Doctorate in Theology / Spirituality in 1979. He returned to the Seminary until he was appointed Bishop of Cairns in 1986.
In 1986, Dr. Bathersby was ordained Bishop of Cairns by Archbishop Rush, whom he succeeded as Archbishop of Brisbane on 30th January, 1992.
Archbishop Bathersby is keenly involved in ecumenical affairs both nationally and internationally. He was a member of the International Catholic-Methodist Dialogue from 1989 -1995. He served as Co-Chairman of the Australian Catholic-Uniting Church Dialogue, concluding the co-chair role in 2009. In July 1997 he was appointed President of the National Council of Churches in Australia. He completed this appointment in July 2000. In January 2001 he was appointed Co-Chair of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission Working Group concluding this role in 2010.
With the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Archbishop has served as Deputy President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference 2000-2006, Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace 2000-2006, and Chairman of Catholic Earthcare Australia 2000-2004. He is the current Chairman of the Bishops' Commission for Mission and Faith Formation. He was also a member of the executive of the Confederation of Bishops' Conferences of Oceania from 1991 to May 1994.
His interests include bushwalking, mountain climbing, watching sport and listening to classical music.
If he wished to boast, as St Paul did not, he would talk about riding a Vespa in Rome for six years, climbing Mt. Sinai, walking to the Stinson, and listening to Joan Sutherland in Rome, Buddy Holly in Brisbane, and the Beatles in Sydney.
In 2003 he hosted the second Brisbane Archdiocesan Synod, but the first to include the participation of lay people.
He retired in November 2011