|A challenging territory for a |
newly ordained priest
That young man, a mere 27 years of age, was none other than the future Archbishop Ullathorne, Catholic leader and theologian extraordinaire.
His role in Australia was that of Vicar General, a senior post working with and for the Bishop at the time, Bishop William Morris of New South Wales.
You can easily re-create the scenario of his arrival on the scene; a fresh faced priest barely out of seminary, sent to assume jurisdiction over all of NSW- and an Englishman to boot!
Here is an account of how he was received by the Australian clergy and how, without any delay or prevarication, he assumed control and won their support - what a great man he was................
"...............I looked so youthful that the first language of Father Thierry, and even of his housekeeper, was naturally patronising; but after dinner I produced the document appointing me Vicar-General, with jurisdiction over the whole of New South Wales, as well as the rest of New Holland (Australia), after reading which Father Thierry immediately went on his knees.
This act of obedience and submission gave me great relief.
I felt that he was a truly religious man, and that half the difficulty was over.
At his invitation I went with him that evening to the house of a gentleman, where I found myself in company with precisely the three persons with whom it was represented to me in England that I should find my difficulty.
But, in fact, they were all very good men, and we became great friends.
Still I was internally amused, for they evidently took me for a raw College youth and I humoured the notion, and was told at a later time that after I had left they had talked of sending me to Bathurst, then the remotest part of the colony.
The next morning as I came from Mass in the little chapel, Father Thierry met me and said:
"Sir, there are two parties among us and I wish to put you in possession of my ideas on the subject"
I replied: "No, Father Thierry, if you will pardon me there are not two parties."
He warmed up, as his quick, sensitive nature prompted, and replied with his face in a glow:
"What can you know about it? You have only just arrived, and have no experience."
"Father Thierry," I said with gravity, "listen to me. There were two parties yesterday; there are none today. They arose from the unfortunate want of some person endowed with ecclesiastical authority, which is now at an end. For the present, in New South Wales, I represent the Church, and those who gather not with me scatter.
So now there is an end of parties"
Great words from a great leader but, after reading Kate Edwards post of today, I wonder at just what I will find (like Fr Ullathorne) on arrival in New Holland.
It appears as if Australia is in a more parlous spiritual state than Great Britain and even Cardinal Pell comes in for some criticism from Australia Incognita.
This will be my second visit so it will be interesting to see just what has changed in six years.
At least Melbourne Diocese has representation from the FSSP so there will be some recourse to spiritual replenishment and some post Lent refreshment of the other kind.