for the
2009 ACHS Conference

Catholics in Australian Public Life since 1788

[as submitted June-August 2009]

Michael Cullen
Cardinal Sir James Darcy Freeman as Catholic priest and Australian

I will consider selected aspects of Cardinal James Freeman’s life and ministry, including his Catholic faith, priesthood, communication skills and recreational pursuits. These and associated socio-political phenomena will be evaluated within the parallel contexts of his twentieth century Australian and Catholic ecclesiastical contexts. Brief excerpts from various primary and secondary sources will be synthesised, drawn from some of my recent preliminary research into his life and times. These sources include published quotes attributed to Freeman, his own writings, various interviews that I have conducted during the last five years with some of those closest to him (transcribed either from authorised audio-taped interviews or contemporaneous notes), original letters from some of his contemporaries documenting their recollections, as well as other published monographs and articles.
A chronology of Freeman’s life will delineate the paper. Reference will be made to some of the key persons, influences and phases in his own journey and ministries, including his tenure as Catholic Archbishop of Sydney between 1971 and 1983. Some of his many contributions to Australian Catholic and public life will be acknowledged. Commencing with his birth in 1907 and early family years in Annandale and Rushcutter’s Bay, I will trace his schooling at St. Canice’s Elizabeth Bay and St. Mary’s Cathedral College to his subsequent priestly formation at St. Columba’s College Springwood, then St. Patrick’s College Manly and ordination in 1930. Selected hallmarks of early twentieth century Australian Catholicism will be acknowledged, potentially including its Roman, Tridentine and Irish influences and the 1917 Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Benedict XV. Freeman’s personal faith, aptitudes as homilist and public speaker, literary and sporting interests will also be discussed in these and other settings.

Freeman’s early pastoral work in diverse parishes such as Grafton and Murwillumbah, Strathfield, Mosman and St, Mary’s Cathedral Sydney may also be mentioned. The Australian social repercussions of the Great Depression and World War II are other significant potential inclusions in this narrative. His eventual appointment as private secretary to (then) Archbishop Gilroy during the 1940s, such phenomena as later post-war migration and growth in the Sydney Church and his parish work during the 1950s and 1960s in Haymarket, Stanmore and Concord represent later developments. Freeman’s catechetical and media work, including being first director of the Catholic Information Bureau, first priest to appear on Australian television in 1956, establishing the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in Sydney 1958, and chairing The Catholic Weekly 1957-68, may also be mentioned.

As a documentary history this paper will have a credible evidence base, although it will represent a preliminary and selective study rather than a rigorous assessment, being derived in part from various personal anecdotes. The type of scholarly historical paper to do greatest justice to Cardinal Freeman and his times would necessarily also be based upon additional documentary ecclesiastical and public archival sources. I have yet to undertake this fundamental element of any serious historical research.

Michael Cullen has been the Sydney Campus Librarian at The University of Notre Dame Australia (Broadway) since late 2005, having worked for about eight years prior to that as a librarian at the Veech Library of the Catholic Institute of Sydney, Strathfield. His areas of personal research interest include Christology, history (ecclesial and other) and Christian spirituality.

Anne Cunningham
Christopher Coveny – Frustrated Colonial Artist

When selected by his father to elevate the family’s social status in the growing Sydney of the 1860s, Christopher Coveny rebelled.  Despite his windfall appointment to the prestigious offices of William Bede Dalley in 1874, Christopher proved a reluctant practitioner of law.  He then fled to Bathurst against his father’s wishes becoming a schoolteacher in 1875.  For many years he wandered from law to teaching. His sisters Constance, Fanny and Jane became his lifeline and through his copious letters to them we  gain an interesting insight to life in Bathurst, Goulburn and the burgeoning city of Sydney during the 1870’s.

This paper will examine the life of Christopher Coveny and in so doing will reflect on the ambitions of young 19th century Irish/Australian Catholics. It will discuss how the influence of parental authority, despite its good intent frustrated and destroyed the aspirations of a young man whose only desire was to become an artist.  It was not until after his father’s death in 1878 that Coveny felt free to turn to his first love – art. This earlier acceptance of his position, while a loss to Coveny is our gain. His letters which I will explore are full of sketches.  From them we are introduced to a young man with a wicked sense of humour and a strong eye for social satire. No one, particularly those in authority, is spared his sharp commentary. Boarding school life, (St. Stanislaus College, Bathurst) is recreated in all of its intensity.

Coveny’s life was long and despite its frustrations fruitful and eventful.  Spanning the world, he moved from Australia, to Europe, back to Australia and eventually died in St. John of God’s Hospital in Dublin at the age of 91 in 1941. The relevance of this frustrated colonial artist’s life will be reviewed in the context of examining the continuous inter-relationship between the old and new worlds of 19th and 20th century Australia.

Anne Cunningham completed her PhD at Macquarie University May 1999. Her thesis examined the uneasy relationship between the English Benedictine Archbishops, John Bede Polding and Roger Bede Vaughan, and their Irish suffragan bishops. Anne is currently teaching at Abbotsleigh, an Anglican school for girls, whilst researching the life of the Benedictine priest, Bernard Smith.

Tony Earls
Stories of Four Catholic Judges on Australia's Colonial Supreme Courts

A reluctance to appoint Catholics to the bench was much less of a factor than the historical composition of the legal profession from which judges were drawn. However, as the children of Irish Catholic settlers increasingly used the legal profession as a vehicle for upward social mobility, that composition changed, and facilitated a more representative presence on the benches. The stories of the four judges; Therry, Faucett, Madden and Real reflect progressive levels of access and acceptance. Therry was a barrister from Ireland whose family were middle class and well connected. Therry practised as a barrister in Sydney from 1829 to 1846 before being offered a judgeship. Whilst Faucett was also an Irish barrister, his father was a Dublin blacksmith, and his move to Sydney in the 1850s opened up opportunities for him that he would not have expected at home. Madden migrated from Cork as a child with his family. His father was an attorney who made good in Melbourne and Madden was a product of St Patrick's College there, with all the advantages of a well connected and affluent father. Madden became the doyen of the Melbourne Bar in the 1880s before being appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme court of Victoria in 1893. Real, a contemporary of Madden, was also a child migrant from Ireland - but without Madden's advantages. Real's family fled the Irish Famine. On the ship out to Moreton Bay Real's father died. Real was the youngest of six children raised by their widowed mother, and started his working life at 12 as an apprentice carpenter. However, with the assistance of special tuition from Father James Breen, the head-teacher at St Mary's Catholic school, Ipswich, he rose. Years later at his funeral Archbishop Duhig called Real the model Catholic layman, the poor boy who became the learned and upright judge. The relevance of Catholicism for these men will be reviewed in the context of changing demographics and attitudes to Catholics in the legal profession as the nineteenth century progressed.

Tony Earls is a lawyer with a research interest in the culture of Australia’s nineteenth century lawyers. He is currently engaged in a study of migrant barristers from that period, at Macquarie University. Tony has presented to the Society previously, on ‘John Hubert Plunkett and the Church Act of 1836’, a talk which drew on his forthcoming book, Plunkett’s Legacy.

James Franklin
Calwell, Catholicism and the Origins of Multicultural Australia

“Displaced Persons” in camps in Western Europe – anti-communist Eastern European refugees from the Red Army, a majority of them Catholic. In 1950, the camps were burned down as the refugees had all been settled. 180,000 of them were “New Australians”, the first of many influxes of non-Anglophone immigrants into Australia. The official explanation in terms of “populate or perish” and “good labour for the Snowy Mountains Scheme” was true but partial.  The enthusiasm for European immigration of Ben Chifley and his immensely energetic Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, was supported by significant overseas pressure on the Australian government to take a large share of the refugees – from Whitehall for Cold War reasons and from the Vatican for religious and humanitarian reasons. The paper uses archival material to follow the mounting international pressure to solve the Displaced Persons crisis and Australia’s eventual leading role in the success of the efforts. It compares the scheme with other contemporary Catholic immigration schemes and later Cold War refugee crises such as the Vietnamese Boat People crisis of 1979.

James Franklin is the author of Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia, Catholic Values and Australian realities, and other books. He lectures in Mathematics at the University of New South Wales. He was awarded the 2005 Eureka Prize for Research in Ethics.

Regina Ganter
German missionaries in Queensland: a Q150 website

‘Much money has been thrown away upon them’ explained the Rev. Marsden at Parramatta in 1831 to the newly arrived Rev. Handt, before any sustained missionary venture in Australia even got off the ground. Handt was the first qualified missionary to arrive in Australia for the express purpose of heathen mission. The missionary project took off slowly in Australia, and often its closest allies were its most vocal critics, partly because Germans remained at the forefront of missionising in Australia.

The first mission in Queensland in 1836 was staffed entirely by Germans, and as in South and Western Australia, their arrival preceded the immigration of German settlers. The pietist Moravian Community of Brethren at Herrnhut served as a paradigm for heathen mission, and a number of German missions became immensely successful in terms of creating a steady community to buffer indigenous people from encroaching settlement. Most missionaries arrived as young people full of optimism and without experience, and some of them devoted their entire life to a mission impossible fulfilling neither the expectations of Aboriginal people, nor of the governments, nor of the surrounding settlers.

A new Q150 website hosted by Centre for Public Culture and Ideas at Griffith University showcases the German-staffed missions in Queensland and, informed by German archival sources, explores the biographies and home institutions of the missionaries to understand their aspirations, their hopes, their frustrations and their quarrels.

Regina Ganter is Associate Professor in Australian History at Griffith University and author of Mixed Relations: Asian-Aboriginal Contact in North Australia (2006) which received the Ernst Scott Prize in Australian History (2007) and the NSW Premiers History Awards (2007). She was an executive member of the Australian Historical Association for four years.

Janice Garaty
Judging a Man by his Deeds: Henry Clement Hoyle MLA and trade unionist

Henry Hoyle, the son of a sea captain, began his working life at Balmain and was apprenticed as a blacksmith, utilising his trade skills to gain employment in the NSW Government Railways in 1876. Hoyle had been a founding member of the Railway and Tramway Service Association of NSW, and while serving as its President, was issued a harsh ultimatum by the Railway Commissioners: to keep his position at the railway workshops he must give up his union activities. Given 24 hours to respond, he refused and was dismissed, this being reported (with great indignation) in the Catholic weekly newspaper, the Freeman’s Journal.

Henry Hoyle became a leading member of the St Peter’s, Surry Hills parish, where he had set up house on his marriage, and when Cardinal Moran opened the new presbytery at Surry Hills in February 1891, he led the vote of thanks, taking the opportunity to praise the Cardinal for his strong support for the right of trade unionists to take strike action during the 1890 Maritime Strike. The Cardinal’s increasing public support for the trade union movement and the newly formed Labor Party was causing alarm among conservative Catholics.

Hoyle was elected as MLA for Redfern in June 1891 and when not re-elected in 1894, was employed by the Freeman’s Journal. He joined the Labor Party before the 1910 election and became the MLA for Surry Hills but left the Labor Party over the conscription issue. He was appointed the Assistant State Treasurer and Minister for Mines and for Labour and Industry in the McGowan and Holman Labor Governments. Although he had a seat in the NSW Legislative Assembly for almost 26 years, he retained his working class roots and was one of the three who formed the breakaway football code, Rugby League in 1908. He seems to have maintained his close ties to the parish of St Peter’s, although he had moved to Vaucluse, where he died in 1926.

Self-made with only a basic education, Henry Hoyle was an inspiring orator. Living through a period of intense sectarianism and suspicion of trade unionism, he was a man of deeply held convictions, with a highly developed sense of social justice and conspicuously proud of his Catholic faith.

Janice Garaty completed her doctoral thesis, ‘Holy Cross College Woollahra 1908-2001: a micro-study of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Sydney in the twentieth century’, in 2008. She is the author of St Peter’s Surry Hills – a History, Vol. 1, 1880-1931 and is now researching and writing the history of the NSW Province of the Brigidine Sisters.

Damian Gleeson
Monsignor J. F. McCosker’s influence on Commonwealth Social Policy in the 1950s and 1960s

Frank McCosker had a significant influence on federal government legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. The trained social worker and former director of Sydney’s Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (now Catholic Care) became the church’s lead advocate on social policy issues and forthcoming federal government legalisation.

In the mid 1950s Monsignor McCosker, a consummate observer of social trends, inspired the Australian Episcopal Conference (AEC) to adopt a national position on social welfare policy. Despite a difficult personal relationship with Cardinal Norman Gilroy, McCosker successfully argued that while the church’s social services were ‘enormous… much of the work is unknown and there is no national organisation which is interested in presenting’ its welfare activities’. Drawing on the American model of the Catholic Charities network, McCosker persuaded a reluctant Gilroy and the full bishops’ conference to establish the National Catholic Welfare Committee (NCWC).
Although very small and lacking even the most basic resources, the NCWC became an influential national peak body, at a time when most organisations had yet to realise the benefits of such an organisation. As the NCWC Secretary, McCosker became an effective lobbyist and a strident advocate of Catholic interests. His intervention on behalf of the bishops and the broader interests of Catholics had a profound influence on the provision of state aid to Catholic (and other) welfare sectors. Drawing on unpublished primary sources this paper seeks to examine the pivotal influence of McCosker on national social policy in the 1950s and 1960s.

D J Gleeson, PhD is a graduate in arts and commerce from the University of New South Wales. He is the current President of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. His research interests include 19th century Irish-Australia and Catholic social welfare.

Gregory Haines
Lay Catholic Society in Nineteenth Century New South Wales

The purpose of this paper is to describe something of the patterns of lay Catholic society in nineteenth century New South Wales, principally  in the 'seventies and 'eighties. The general lines of this discussion will be taken from education, occupation and place of residence — Sydney or the rural districts of the colony. However, there will be some diversions.

Questions raised in this sketch include the existence and nature of lay catholic society and its variety. What united them — religion, attraction to Irish causes, mutual support, networking, as a means of establish­ing themselves in the wider community? Are there any observable patterns of association, and if so, what are they? Did geography have an influence? If there was a monolithic group, a tribe, who were the gatekeepers? How could the dapper W B Dalley marry in the Church of England in 1872 and still be accepted by people and prelates while the less dapper Richard Kenna, even though a publican, refused burial in consecrated ground because he persisted in sending his son to Sydney Grammar School. How important were education and mixed marriage for the laity? Some answers will be suggested.

Dr Gregory Haines, pharmacist and historian, taught history at Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview and at the Catholic Theological Union. His last paper for the ACHS was on Sir Charles MacDonald, physician and university chancellor. Among his books are Lay Catholics and the Education Question in Nineteenth Century New South Wales, ‘Another Outpost in God’s Kingdom’. The Parish of the Holy Innocents and, as co-editor, The Eye of Faith. The Pastoral Letters of John Bede Polding.

Vivienne Keely chf
The Reverend Mr Power: Government Priest 1827 -1830

Father Daniel Power was the official Roman Catholic Chaplain from 1827 until his sudden death in March 1830. He was therefore the official face of Catholicism in NSW, the priest with whom the civil authorities communicated, even though Fr Therry was still in active ministry.

The early historians of Catholicism in NSW, Moran and O’Brien, heroised Therry and damned Power with faint praise. O’Brien’s treatment of Power defined the categories by which he continued to be assessed in the historiographical tradition. Later historians could allow no blight on Therry’s character, and Power, if mentioned at all, was made to cut a very pale figure on a stage where Therry wore the multi- coloured coat. Waldersee offers an altogether more sympathetic appraisal but his method is refutation of earlier historians, thus leaving Power captive to their categories of assessment.

This paper seeks to depart from the categories imposed by earlier historians and attempt a fresh assessment of the three year ministry of Power by posing two questions which might reasonably be asked in the assessment of any clergyman’s ministry in  early NSW: how well did he get on with the government whose appointee he was; how well did he carry out his pastoral duties as the public face of Catholicism?
Analysis of the primary sources - Power’s correspondence with the Colonial Secretary’s Office and the Governor’s dispatches to the Secretary of the Colonies in London – show that Power was diligent, capable, and responsible in the exercise of his duties, and far from the incompetent he has been made out to be.

Vivienne Keely is a researcher for the diocese of Parramatta. She has published in Medieval history, nineteenth century Australian history and interreligious dialogue. A regular presenter in the University of Sydney’s Continuing Education programme, Vivienne is Director of Studies at Holy Spirit Seminary and is a member of the Sisters of the Holy Faith.

Jeff Kildea
Hugh Mahon: political conundrum

Hugh Mahon was an influential Catholic in both church and state. The only member of parliament to be expelled from the House of Representatives, Hugh Mahon was once described as "a democrat whose snobbish coldness of demeanour would make a snake shudder". He served time in Kilmainham Gaol with Charles Stewart Parnell before emigrating to Australia, where he soon developed a reputation for bitter political invective matched only by that of Billy Hughes, who ultimately destroyed his political career. In his day, Mahon was a prominent Catholic and Irish nationalist, being a close adviser to Archbishops Carr and Mannix and managing director of the Catholic Church Property Insurance Co. from 1912 to 1931. This paper reviews the life and times of this remarkable Irish-Australian Catholic.

Jeff Kildea is a barrister in Sydney with a PhD in history from the University of New South Wales, where he has lectured in Irish and Australian history. He also lectures at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education. He is the author of Tearing the Fabric: Sectarianism in Australia 1910-1925 (2002), Anzacs and Ireland (2007), and Wartime Australians: Billy Hughes (2008). He has also written articles and given papers in Australian and Ireland on the Irish in early twentieth-century Australia.

Robert Lehane
The Dalley Phenomenon

His parents came to Sydney as convicts, he was a Catholic – and he was the first Australian appointed to the Privy Council. The story of William Bede Dalley (1831-1888) demonstrates that unpromising beginnings and adherence to the Church were not necessarily barriers to achieving the highest honours in New South Wales in the second half of the 19th century.

This paper outlines Dalley’s career in the context of the times, which included a period of intense sectarian passion after the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred in Sydney in 1868 by the Irish Catholic Henry O’Farrell. It also touches on the overlapping careers of other notable Catholics including John Hubert Plunkett and Edward Butler.

Dalley was a charismatic speaker – in court, on the hustings, in parliament and at innumerable dinners. People were drawn to him: one of the NSW Premiers he served under as Attorney-General, John Robertson (a Presbyterian), spoke of ‘the great respect... the love indeed... I have for him’; the other, Alexander Stuart (an Anglican), called him his dearest friend in public and private life. Sir Patrick Jennings, the colony’s first Catholic Premier, thought him ‘the most loveable man’ he had met. A disappointed opponent in one electoral contest lamented that he had to contend not only with Dalley but with his ‘thousand and one friends’.

He was a force for good, not least in countering sectarianism. Polding wrote that his efforts to calm the anti-Catholic/anti-Irish storm after the royal assassination attempt had been of ‘great service to religion during these sad times’. After Vaughan and the suffragans issued their 1879 pastoral letter describing public schools as ‘seed-plots of future immorality’, he sought to stem the resulting outcry while supporting the bishops’ position on school funding. He had his disagreements with the hierarchy, but Polding lavished praise on him, Vaughan chose him to give the first oration in the nearly completed first section of the present St Mary’s Cathedral in 1881, and he appeared on many platforms with Moran.

Dalley has been largely neglected by historians; when mentioned it is usually for his role as Acting Premier in sending the 1885 New South Wales contingent to Sudan. Contemporaries rated him much more highly, as a glance at the press notices of his death in 1888 makes clear. The Sydney Morning Herald’s observation that he had raised the tone of ‘this young community’ was echoed widely.

Robert Lehane’s books are:  Beating the Odds in a Big Country (the story of the national campaign to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis from Australia’s cattle); Irish Gold (local and family stories from the Yass/Binalong region of NSW); Forever Carnival (the story of Very Rev. Dr John Forrest and the early years of St John’s College, University of Sydney); and William Bede Dalley: Silver-tongued pride of old Sydney.

Helen Lucas
“…so many proofs of the gracious goodwill of the venerable Archbishop of Sydney”.
The Sydney Archdiocese and the establishment of the Catholic Mission on Palm Island, North Queensland.

Palm Island began as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1918. In 1925 Bishop Shiel of Rockhampton Diocese wrote to the Home Secretary seeking permission for a priest to visit the Island and to establish a school there. The Home Secretary raised no objection to a priest visiting but refused permission for the establishment of a school because the education of Aborigines was the responsibility of the State.  In 1927 Bishop Shiel purchased the only piece of land not included in the Reserve for a church and parish house. However, local diocesan priest Fr Kelly of Ingham and visiting Italian priest Fr Mambrini of Sydney visited the Island and both became concerned about the plight of the Palm Island community. Fr Mambrini returned to Sydney full of enthusiasm for the establishment of a Mission and found a powerful supporter in the Archbishop of Sydney the Most Reverend Michael Kelly.  Archbishop Kelly encouraged Bishop Shiel to continue with setting up the Mission, however, Bishop Shiel became ill and no further progress was made until July 1930 when the new Bishop of Townsville, Terrance McGuire, asked Fr Paddy Moloney, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, to hold a mission on the Island. Fr Moloney returned a year later and said the first Mass on the Island on 26 July 1931, the feast of St Ann, to whom he dedicated the mission’s protection. Archbishop Kelly’s interest did not stop with the establishment of the mission.  During the next eight years he contributed financially to the establishment of a school and convent on the Island. He also played a significant role in the decision by the Sisters of Our Lady Help of Christians to take up the challenge of working with the people on Palm Island.

Helen Lucas has been the Townsville Diocesan Archivist since 2004. During the 1980s she studied local and applied history at The University of New England, Armidale and a degree in cultural and regional history at James Cook University, Townsville. Helen worked for thirteen years in cultural heritage management in the Cultural Heritage Branch of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency based in Townsville.  One of her roles, as Diocesan Archivist, is identify and conserve the story of the people of the Townsville Diocese through research and writing and to spread the Catholic story of North Queensland.

Katharine Massam
Easter in the public realm: social justice and the liturgical movement in Australia

When the Australian Catholic activist Paul McGuire took the platform at the first national liturgical week in Chicago in 1940, he was in the midst of a national speaking tour sponsored by the American Catholic benevolent society, The Knights of Columbus.  They had invited him to lecture on ‘The Christian Revolution’ in 50 venues across the country; he was regularly attracting crowds of 3500.  The ‘Mystical Body of Christ’ was a regular theme in his public speaking, as it was in his response at the Liturgical Week. This theological rallying point shared by the early liturgical movement and advocates of a ‘lay apostolate’ who sought to revitalize people for service in the world.

This paper explores the efforts to connect liturgy and social justice in the mid-twentieth century in Australia.  With McGuire as a starting point, it takes the renewal of the Easter Vigil in the 1950s as a case study and examines the tensions that worked against a social justice agenda in liturgical reform.  The barrier included the fault line that ran between ‘liturgy’ and ‘devotion’ for many committed Catholics, and the layers of interpretation that made Paul’s image of the Body of Christ both an invitation to lay participation in the world as in liturgy, and a bulwark for an ‘other worldly’  and institutional focus. 

Katharine Massam is professor of church history at the Uniting Church Theological College, Melbourne. She is particularly interested in the history of Christian spirituality, and in exploring the patterns of faith and belief that have shaped the lives of people in Australia. Her publications include Sacred Threads: Catholic Spirituality in Australia, and recent work focused on missionary women, including the forthcoming book Benedictine Missionary Women of New Norcia.

Sophie McGrath
Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran, Feminist

 It draws attention to neglected aspects of his personality, including his spirituality, which emerges in his dealings with women.  Apart from drawing upon the usual archival sources of diaries, letters and newspaper reports, this paper considers the observations of an accredited handwriting analyst.  The results round out the character of Moran as depicted to date successively by historians Patrick O’Farrell, Tony Cahill and Philip Ayres, while acknowledging the important contribution that each of these scholars has made to the understanding of this significant Australian Church leader.  Such an understanding can contribute appreciably to informing the contemporary development of Moran’s ecclesial, social and political legacies most especially the Catholic education, health and social welfare systems.

Sophie McGrath is co-founder and Director of the Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality at the Australian Catholic University. Her doctoral thesis, a centenary history of the Sisters of Mercy, Parramatta, founded by Cardinal Moran from Callan in Ireland, was published by the University of New South Wales press as These Women?  Her recent publications have focused on popes and feminists in conversation.

David Povey
Hugh Taylor of Parramatta, the poor man's friend.

Parramatta in the nineteenth century was a town of personalities, none larger than the Taylor family.  Hugh Taylor junior's first significant political act involved gathering support for Hannibal Macarthur in the 1841 elections - Hugh's father, Hugh Taylor senior, was the Master of Ceremonies at the celebrations following Macarthur's win.  Ex-convict Hugh Taylor senior served on the District Council for Parramatta, and was elected to the Parramatta Market Trust in 1846; Hugh's brother John Taylor served on the first elected Parramatta Municipal Council in 1861, and Hugh joined his brother on the Council in 1865.  Hugh went on to be Mayor of Parramatta from1871 to 1873, and remained on Parramatta Council until his death in 1897.Hugh was first elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1872 and served on that body until 1894, being a member of many Commissions of Inquiry, the standard method of developing legislative solutions at that time.  he was great friends with another Parramatta local, Sir Henry Parkes.

Hugh had the reputation of a larrikin when young, but following his marriage to Frances Connor in 1846 and his conversion to the catholic faith, he became widely known as "the poor man's friend", championing the causes of working people.  He was substantially involved in rebuilding St Patrick's church in Parramatta, and served on the management of the Catholic Orphanage, the Protestant Orphanage, the District Hospital, the Parramatta Jockey Club, Cricket Club, Parramatta Park and St John's Park.  When he passed away, all the churches of Parramatta rang their bells as his funeral was conducted in St Patrick's, and the widow of Sir Henry Parks laid a hand-made cross on the site of his grave in St Patrick's cemetery, North Parramatta.

In the forty years of Hugh Taylor's public life, "Sleepy Hollow" (as Parramatta was known in the 1860's) became a vibrant outer hub of Sydney, and this paper memorialises the contributions of Hugh Taylor to catholic political life in NSW, and in particular in Parramatta. 

David Povey is the diocesan archivist for the Parramatta Diocese; he is also the archivist at St Aloysius’ College and was the archivist for the Parramatta City Council. He has recently spoken to the Friends of Elizabeth Farm about the famous night in 1808 when the Constable attempted to arrest John Macarthur at Elizabeth Farm, and to the Parramatta History Society on the unrecognised early map of Parramatta that David found in Phillip Gidley King’s notebooks. His current research is the relations between Bennelong and Governor Philip andPhillip Gidley King.

Stephen Utick
An Engineer and the City: Mission and Prophetic Vision in the Life of Charles O’Neill

’Neill (1828-1900) has now made it possible to evaluate the contribution of this remarkable layperson.  The Irish-Scot Charles O’Neill, Member of the Institution of Engineers of London, and twice elected New Zealand parliamentarian, was both a brilliant civil engineer and one of the most prominent Catholics in Britain’s Australasian colonies during the 1870s and 1880s. 

From 1877 onwards, and building on his Glasgow experience, Charles became a man on a sacred mission for the sake of the poor.  The significance of this mission in pre-Federation Australia is outlined, through the establishment of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society across Sydney between 1881 and 1891.  By combining the wider social justice vision of Frédéric Ozanam with the principle of ‘charity without reference to party or sect’, Charles began to move colonial Catholic charity out of a sectarian ghetto and into the civic domain.  His work challenged the traditional nineteenth century distinction between the “deserving” and the “undeserving” poor.   With the support of the Society of Mary, he introduced into Australia many organisational techniques that he had learned in the early 1860s, when he led the Society in Glasgow, then the “second city” of the British Empire.  Through his religious and political connections, Charles was able to consolidate a major network of public charity before Australia’s first great depression of the 1890s.  He demonstrated prophetic vision in his own endeavours, even though his approach was often not fully understood or accepted.  Other examples from Charles’ professional activities illustrate this – appreciation that civil engineering and urban development could alleviate social disadvantage and Charles’ address to the New Zealand Parliament in July 1874, which could mark him as the first Catholic public figure to issue a warning about the impact of deforestation on climate change. 

For Catholics in public life, the lesson emerging from this personal history is to remain loyal to mission, based firmly on Christian faith, despite the vicissitudes of success and failure.  Charles paid a heavy personal price for lack of circumspection in his business dealings, but this was more than compensated for by a humility which accepted God’s will, never sought approbation, and faithfully followed the New Testament teachings.  There is a lesson too for the Catholic Church in Australia, highlighted by rare historical documentation which draws attention to issues surrounding the Church’s witness to the urban slums of Sydney.

Stephen Utick MScSoc (UNSW) MLitt (ANU) MA (ACU) is a PhD candidate at the Australian Catholic University undertaking research into Charles Gordon O’Neill (1828-1900), civil engineer, New Zealand parliamentarian and founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in New South Wales.  Stephen is the author of the first biography of Charles, published by Allen and Unwin in 2008, with the support of the Society and with a grant from the City of Sydney History Publications Sponsorship Program.  Stephen was Literature Advisory President of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society in New South Wales between 1996 and 2007.

John Warhurst
Catholics in the Liberal Party: From Philip Lynch to Malcolm Turnbull

Catholics, for a variety of reasons, were once exceedingly rare among federal Liberal Party MPs. Now they are very common; both the present Liberal leader, Malcolm Turnbull, and his immediate predecessor, Dr Brendan Nelson, are Catholics.

The first breakthrough to the senior ranks of the party came during the Fraser years when Philip Lynch became Treasurer and Deputy Liberal Leader. During the Howard years there were many Catholics in the Cabinet, including, most notably from a religious denomination point of view, Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews.

This paper examines several aspects of this remarkable transformation, beginning with the background and belief systems of the MPs themselves. It asks what changes, if any, the influx of Catholics has brought to the once predominantly-Protestant Liberals, and what broader implications this development has for the role of Catholics in Australian public life.

John Warhurst is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University and Flinders University. He was Professor of Political Science at ANU, 1993-2008. His recent articles on Catholics and politics include ‘The Catholic Lobby’ (Australian Journal of Public Administration, 2008) and ‘Catholic MPs’ (Australian Quarterly, 2008).


Freeman’s Journal,10 January 1891, p.15

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