Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Australia looms ever closer - both for Fr Ullathorne and me

Next week I shall (DV) arrive on Australia's sunny landmass to begin a four week break with my son and his family during which time I hope to take a gentle look at the faith in and around Melbourne.

A challenging territory for a
newly ordained priest
Almost 180 years ago a young Catholic priest made the same journey but it was by boat and he landed at Sydney, not Melbourne.

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.


  1. Thank you for sharing that fascinating historical story! We need to pray for a great Spiritual awakening in our society and in our hearts! To see Jesus again in this present day! In Christ Alone~♥

  2. I do hope you enjoy your upcoming journey Richard, and don't get flooded out (we are currently enjoying a little rain downunder, with mass evacuations going on of many towns)!

    I haven't yet covered Melbourne Archdiocese in my series, but I'm afraid its a story of appearances vs a rather less happy underlying reality!

    And on that, you should be aware that the Melbourne trad community is not in fact FSSP-run, but rather has two priests who have defected from that society, plus a former member of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer as its priests.

  3. Wishing you and your wife a safe journey and a very happy visit to 'down-under'. Look forward to hearing something about it in due course. Remembered in our prayers. Brian. PS Have just noticed comment from Kate, the priest originally from the F.SS.R community is a Scotsman, Fr Colin Marshall.If you happen to meet him would you kindly give him my best wishes; many thanks.

  4. Kate - thank you for that information I recall it now from one of your previous posts.(A diminishing memory I'm afraid!)
    I shall keep in touch.

    Brian - of course, I will and thank you for your good wishes.

  5. My elder brother trained with the Sacred Heart Fathers, at a place called Osterley, also at a place called Campion House and Oscott College for a while. Anyway, at the church where one of the orders reside, there is a room called the Ullathorne room. Just wanted to share that as your post reminded me and I didn't realise it referred to an actual person!

    As for your Australian visit Richard, I liked these words in your post and I do hope that you stick to them and don't have too much of a bash at the ozzy's faith.

    "during which time I hope to take a gentle look"

    Emphasis 'gentle' without compromising ofcourse.
    Have a good trip now, ya old bugga!

  6. Ros, I lived for many years,just a few yards from Campion House, Osterley.
    Thanks for the info re Ullathorne.


    1. Wow!!!!!!!!!!

      It's a sign, you're meant to pray for my soul, no matter how many times I post 'shine Jesus shine' on my blog.

      God has sent me to you, as a penance.............. Ros ;)

  7. Shadowlands.....of course I pray for your soul even though your musical tastes are not as mine.
    Ha, ha, some penance!

  8. i was received into the Church by one of the two priests who left the FSSP and his reasons were quite sound. if you get a chance to attend St Aloysius the 10.30 Mass is blessed with either the Schola or Psallamus singing

  9. Thanks Mathias, I will be there.
    Are there any other Mass venues in Melbourne?

  10. St phillips@ Blackburn North 9am Saturdays
    St Patrick's Cathedral 5.30pm Wednesdays
    st Gerard's@ North Dandenong 7am first Sunday of the Month (This priest has come back from the SPPX I hear)

    Out of Town :5pm Sundays At St patrick's church in Wangaratta -160 miles NE of Melbourne .

  11. Oh and if in Melbourne you could contact David Schutz of the blog SENTIRE CUM ECCLESIA who works for the archdiocese as Executive Officer of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission

  12. Thank you Mathias, very grateful.