Province Archives

February 26, 2006

Who seeks the answers ?

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 8:56 am

Like any Archives many requests are made to seek the information that the Archives contains. An Archives can only hold the information it has been given. Some requests do go unanswered because the information is lacking or has not been submitted. But who makes these requests and what is the information they seek?
First and foremost most of the requests are related to either dates and times of events that have happened in our Passionist history. Since 1843 many such important events have been catalogued and are recorded.
Some seek information on classmates, some wish to confirm whether or not students made it to Profession, or at what time they left.
But by far the biggest number of requests are from people searching their family tree. A large number of people from all over the world have found while searching their family tree that somewhere in the past, one of their relatives was a Passionist, and they seek more information about his life and work. With almost 400 Passionists that have served in our Province (including those who came from other provinces and then returned) this has been a valuable exercise as new names have appeared that we had no previous record of, futhermore by sharing the information with the enquirer, they too have shared information and photographs with us.
The Donegans were one such family, we had records of Fr. Benedict Donegan, who spent a quite a time working in our Province but was a puzzle when a family searching their own family tree asked about a Fr. Maurice Donegan. This prompted enquiries to the Anglo-Hibernian Province and we discovered that Maurice, who was the nephew of  Fr. Benedict, did come to Australia for several months then returned home overseas. When eventually Fr Benedict returned and died it was his nephew, Fr. Maurice, that conducted his Requiem Mass.
Fr. Maurice was the last of the “lost” Passionists that we discovered, and this was all due to a family seeking information on a long lost Passionists who was part of their family tree.
So information can come from a variety of sources, and it just needs the time and searching to unveil it.
But the challenge is all worthwhile as some more information can be added to the records, and personal files of the men that have helped make the Province, to what we have become today, grow just that little bit larger.
While questions are being asked, we will continue to seek the answers.

February 20, 2006

Finding the Answers

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 3:58 am

One of the tasks of the Archivist is to seek unsolved answers of mysteries gone past. Some of these have been the location of Passionist graves, the locations of previous foundations, the lives and ministries of some of our men (often forgotten with time). The sacramentals pertaining to the Congregation (now not so common).

This all calls for a sense of determination and a bulldog tenacity not to let go, because the answers might be just around the corner.

Yet hard work comes with its rewards, a sense of completion and the answers to long standing puzzles solved.

One example of such was the burial place of Fr Seraphim McIvor CP, who drowned when the Steamer “Wairarapa” sunk in a severe storm, the ship struck the coast of Great Barrier Island, near Auckland New Zealand.

It had been observed that a headstone had been present at the Symonds Street Cemetery, but was he buried there? Investigations showed that he couldn’t have been buried there as the cemetery had been closed and was only available for those who had purchased plots or had relatives buried in that Cemetery.

Here the first problem came to light that this Irishman did have a brother in Auckland, but was there any proof that any of his family were buried at this location. As the cemetery had been closed since the turn of the century the records had to be tracked and were located in the Auckland State Library who were wonderfully helpful. But no person by that name appeared in those records so the headstone was probably just a memorial stone for the benefit of his family living in Auckland.

A further complication came with the change of vessel he sailed in, as this was swopped at the last minute, and about this time the man we knew as Fr. Seraphim McIvor CP started to appear in the baptismal books as Fr Seraphim McKeever CP. This was no secretarial mistake because he had signed the certificates of Baptism this way himself. Who, then, was the man we were looking for?

The bulk of the victims of the disaster were buried in two mass graves on Great Barrier Island, by a Maori crew working with Police supervision. Which mass grave was he then buried? Or did it matter? It seemed a priority with me that his grave be marked and investigations began as to how we could get a headstone placed on one of the graves. Like most Goverment Departments I was bounced around from pillar to post, but I wouldn’t let go and perservered. Yet while some readily handballed me, I met with some very dedicated and helpful people along the way, and hence, on  the grave site on the side of the Island where the ship was wrecked we now have a headstone that recognises this young and wonderful Priest who died  at the age of 28 years working hard to calm the stricken passengers in such a disaster.

In all it took me 38 letters to unravel the complications of this death, but such is the joy of completion that a headstone now stands proudly on a lonely grave site, and he is also mentioned on a headstone in the Passionist Area of Rookwood cemetery.

Hard work, rewarding work, but all part of the joy of Archives

February 19, 2006

An Archives or a Museum ?

Filed under: Archives or Museum — archivesoz @ 5:31 am

If one is to record events of past times it is also essential to capture some of the past memories, whether they be written (such as poems, sermons, Certificates or Awards) but it is also essential to balance this with objects of the times that these were recorded. We have in our Archives not only Passionist Memorabilia but also some of the instruments of the times (such as our first Roneo Spirit Duplicator, a Tin that held Gramaphone needles, a tin of Corn Plasters, a variety of counters used to record Communions and Confessions.)

Early Cameras, and stacks of old black and white photographs.

An early Fan, (totally prohibited by modern day safety standards.)

Book Press and various book-binding equiptment, Sandal Making, and Rosary bead construction.

a primitive hand drill

early shaving kits

and clothing and vestments used over the years.

For we not only record our men, but also the lives that they lived.

As an Archivist I not only research the people but to grow in deeper understanding of the conditions they lived in, because we look back at the Past, we record the Present, so that we can grow in the future.

I have now added a male mannequin to display a variety of uniforms, Bishops, Military Chaplains, and our original full dress of Habits, Birretta's, and Mantles.

Other future projects could include many of the objects that the early Passionists were so familiar with, rather like creating an atmosphere that one would find on a movie set. Because by so doing we understand more about their lifestyle and difficulties

Please feel free to use this medium to enquire or add additions  from your memories to our archives

God Bless….Br Jeff Daly CP, Passionist Archivist

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