Province Archives

April 21, 2006

Br. Stephen Walsh CP

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 1:03 am

Among the many great men buried in our cemetery at Glen Osmond, South Australia is Br. Stephen Walsh. Br. Stephen was one of those legends that have almost become folk-lore.

Stephen was born in Blackforest, South Australia on the 26th of December 1905. He was educated at St. Thomas's Convent of Mercy School and later finished his education at the Dominicans and finally Christian Brothers College, Wakefield St, Adelaide SA.

He left school at the age of 14 and worked as a clerk and salesman for a shoe machinery company and later became a fuller Brush Salesman.

His interest in Religious Life began with the contact of a Lay-Brother at Rostrevor College. Stephen joined the Passionists at Mary's Mount Goulburn NSW, in January 1929. He became a Novice on the eight of September 1929 and was no doubt conscripted into the sandal making trade for the Passionists because of his previous work with a shoe company.

One rather heroic aspect of his life was the time he spent nursing Confrater Paul Pilkington. Paul, one of our students was very sick with T.B. and eventually died of the complaint. Because it was so contagious, isolation was essential. Br. Stephen caught the disease and was sent to the mountains for three years to recover.

There were many things that Stephen did well, but perhaps the best of them was to talk, not surprising that his brother Frank became Premier of South Australia. It was reported that once he answered a wrong number on the phone and kept them talking, total strangers  for twenty minutes. He was a perfect host, a wonderful cook and a much loved community person.

Br. Stephen was the first Australian to become a Passionist Brother and take Vows in the Province. Stephen had a great sense of humour and a never-to-be-forgotten laugh. He was a stickler to detail and could recite without fail how nearly every member of the province preferred their fried eggs, then sunny-side up, soft centres, turned over, ect, always graced their plates.

Once at the opening of the Good Samaritan Convent in Sydney, Stephen was still at home when the Cardinal's Bentley car pulled up and enquired the location of the convent. Stephen offered to show the driver and jumped in… the car pulled up at the official dias, he was escorted onto the platform and offered one of the official chairs. Regrettably this meant one chair was short for the distinquished guests and his local Superior had to search for another one.

This amused all who heard the story and Stephen laughed himself so much while telling it that only portions of the story was heard.

Everyone that met Stephen was impressed with him. Stephen was always there regardless of time, always working, always cheerful.

Stephen became a legend, but more than that, he became a model to show that Religious life was worth living….and could be enjoyed as well.

 Stephen died on the 15th July 1981 and is buried at Glen Osmond, together with so many of his fellow Passionists that in his life he cared for.


April 13, 2006

A Visit to the Archives by our Passionist Companions

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 12:01 pm

One truely wonderful thing about being a Passionist today is the support and presence of our Passionist Companions. Men and women who thirst for the Spirituality of Paul of the Cross, and support us in so many ways. It was our pleasure to share some of our resources and history with these dedicated and committed Companions. and this is how they saw what we had recorded and displayed.

"An Afternoon in the Archives" 

"On Saturday April 8th a group of the Sydney Passionist Companions spent a fascinating couple of hours with Brother Jeff Daly in the archives. 

We started off in the seminar room where Jeff had set up all sorts of displays.  We saw old vestments of all sorts, including the black vestments that our priests used to wear for funerals.  It was amazing to see the heavy ornate brocade some of them were made of.  They must have been incredibly hot and heavy for our Passionists who wore them.  We also saw displays of birettas, birettinas and maniples which are “… an ornamental vestment in the form of a band, a little over a yard long and from somewhat over two to almost four inches wide, which is placed on the left arm in such manner that it falls in equal length on both sides of the arm. It is worn only during Mass, not at the administration of the sacraments, during processions, nor at Benediction, etc.”  (From The Catholic online encyclopedia!).  We saw the black cloaks with the Passionist insignia that used to be worn.  Is it true that Father Tom still has one?  There were displays of artifacts from the Missionary areas that our Passionists have (and in some cases, still do) work in.  The albums of photos were of especial interest.  After Jeff had given us time to examine these displays he spoke to us for a few minutes on why we have archives and what he has tried to do with the Passionist archives.  In his own words:

We collect record and relate any information concerning our men, ministries, and houses since the Italian Passionists arrived in Australia in 1843. 

Every person who dies is a library of information lost. 

Everyone has their story, record it. 

We remember the Past,We record the Present,So we can grow in the future. 

I have always believed our history should never have been locked away. Fortunately with modern systems of internet, and power-point displays, as well as the space to display and present objects that were meaningful, and to make it accessible beyond our community has always been my dream, now I see my dream is being slowly fulfilled. But I am aware the work in the archives is never finished, material is always arriving.

What worries me is that there are objects in the Archives that are younger than me!!!! Scary isn’t it.”

We were then invited to see for ourselves the way Jeff has set up the archives and indeed made them accessible to all.  In the limited time we had, we were able only to see a limited part of the vast collection that Jeff has sorted and displayed so well.  We again poured over photo albums of the smiling young men who answered the call and joined the Passionists.  We saw photos of all the Passionist houses around Australia, both past and present.  There were book cases with collections of reference books and books written by the Passionists.  Filing cabinets and a compactus are filled with documents and historical materials of all sorts.  Various wall displays included all the Provincials since the founding of the Province, as well as the Generals of the Passionist Congregation.  A refectory table is used as a regularly changing display area.  There are glass display cases with all sorts of fascinating objects including badges and medals and communion vessels.  In other displays we could see various objects that belonged to deceased Passionists.  Brother Cyril’s glasses are there with their arms made of straightened paper clips!  We saw gadgets and tools now well and truly outdated, but which were at one time in regular use. 

Seeing all these things brings it home, not only how much life has changed, but also how quickly we forget how things used to be.  Our afternoon in the archives was a powerful reminder of this. 
Brother Jeff is always delighted to show people around the archives and show off his impressive collection.  If you haven’t done so already, go and pay him a visit and take a fascinating trip down memory lane. You will also make new discoveries and learn more about this wonderful group of men who have done so much for so many."

Passionist Drowns

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 5:47 am

On a previous Blog page I told the story of Fr. Seraphim McIvor who drowned off Great Barrier Island, outside Auckland New Zealand. Six year later we lost another Passionist to drowning.


Fr. Alfred Rees was drowned much closer to home.
One of Adelaide’s most popular beaches at Glenelg, South Australia, has changed over the years, but in the earlier days it had a salt water swimming pool right on the beachfront.
Fr. Alfred Rees was born on the 2nd of October 1865, he was an Englishman and a convert to the Church, having previously belonged to the Protestant Church.
He was professed a Passionist on the 4th of August 1886 and was Ordained in 1890.
Alfred was well known and greatly esteemed in many of the country districts, where he had, from time to time, conducted Missions. His earnest and eloquent appeal will be sadly missed by all. He had a retiring and unassuming disposition, and his kindly and gentle nature endeared him everyone.
Since the death of the late Archdeacon Russell the Passionists had been looking after the Church of Our Lady of Victories at Glenelg.
On the 4th of September 1902, the day being very warm, Fr. Alfred, accompanied by Fr’s Frederick, John and Bernard decided to walk along the foreshore. Alfred decided to go in for a swim in the saltwater baths, but being of poor health was advised not to by his companions. Alfred went against the advice, divested himself of his clothes and entered the pool. Scarcely had he entered the water he collapsed and sank beneath the water.
The companions of Alfred could not swim (this is why they had not accompanied him in the water), so they called for assistance. Their cry was answered by a young 18 year old lad passing by in a horse drawn trap.
John Ricardo of the suburb of Prospect entered the water with a lifebouy, affixed a rope to the body of Alfred and he was pulled to the side of the pool.
It was surmised, by the doctor called to the scene, that Alfred had a fit, or heart failure, so no inquest was deemed necessary by the City Coroner.
The irony of this unfortunate incident is that the water where the body was recovered was only four feet deep, and had they known this even his non-swimming companions would have been able to offer more immediate assistance.

A further sidelight ot Fr. Alfred Rees death, is that at some stage the chronicler must have entered the events well after the time it happened, for Fr Alfred is recorded in our lists as having died one week after he was in fact buried.
Today, as perhaps there was then, State laws discourage this practice.and recommend that the person be dead first, then buried after, not in the order our Chroniclier recorded

But it is of interest to show the necessity of writing up events when they happen and not leaving them to further down the track, as memory can become blurred with time.

April 7, 2006

Fr. Fernando Saavedra CP

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 2:14 am

Inheriting an Archives is sometimes complicated by incomplete and interesting information handed down, yet the full story is not told and questions remain to be asked.

Often times it is a photograph, or a cutting of paper which details a religious who has won an award, but there are no details to what it was, or which paper printed it, or even an indication of the date it was published.

One such letter from Queensland refers to Fr. Fernando as having entered the Chess history books by inventing a "half move"

Just who was Fr, Fernando Saavedra CP?

Fr. Fernando was born in Spain 10/10/1847, and was a Spaniard through and through. His parents moved to England while he was still a young man and in 1866 he joined the Passionists in England. He was Ordained on the 30/11/1871.

On the 6th of January 1900 he arrived in Australia with Fr. Gregory Callaghan to work in the newly found province. While he was renown as a "Fiery Spaniard" it was also noted in our chronicles that despite his fierce appearance and manner "he was quite gentle and understanding in the confessional"

Sickness drove him back to Spain in 1911 and despite his hopes he never returned. He died in Dublin in 1922, and is buried there.

It was during his stay in our Province that he invented a new and winning move in Chess

Research among secondhand bookshops looking for any information relating to Chess unearthed an "Encyclopaedia of Chess" written by Anne Sunnucks (first published in 1970) with two pages of this book being dedicated to our fellow Passionist and his famous move.

The internet provides much additional information on him and even a controvesy as to whether the move was really his, or had he seen it elsewhere.

One thing we do know is that his interest in chess has made his name recordable, and our Archives has discovered just a little bit more about another of our early Passionists.

"His claim to fame must be unique, for it rests with the discovery of a single move. The problem had earlier been presented as a drawn game with a white pawn promoting to a Queen, but in a flash of insight Fr. Saavedra saw that under-promotion secured a win."

April 1, 2006

Passionist Humour

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 12:24 am

Passionist Humour, like a number of Religious Communities,  has long been part of our lifestyle, and our Archives record this. While we have some examples of this in our files we thirst for the many unwritten stories that have become part of our oral tradition.

Often times humour occurs quite spontaneously, and sometimes accidentally, as with one of our students relating the death of someone known to the house, “I don’t know what he died of, but it wasn’t serious”

Fr Anselm, a brilliant and caring missionary priest, ran for the sake of the people in his remote area of Papua New Guinea, a branch of a Bank. He was used to the local Papua New Guineans banking and withdrawing small amounts, and also closing and opening accounts. He was approached by one local who desired to close his account, Fr. Anselm got out all the bookwork, filled in the details required on the duplicate and triplicate pages, got the customer to sign all of the papers then handed over the small sum that was in the account. The Papua New Guinean, from the bush, carefully counted all he had been given, and then gave it all back to be re-deposited; quite satisfied that his money was still there. More bookwork for Fr Anselm and he did laugh about it at a much later date,

Fr Raymund was attributed to the phrase, “How can you be optimistic, when you have misty optics”

Fr Placid Millay not only didn’t speak clearly, but he didn’t write clearly also. He put a note on one of the student’s essays and the student couldn’t make it out so he took it to Placid and queried it. Fr. Placid said “I wrote…”Write more clearly””

Overheard while Novitiate students were washing crockery at Goulburn, “Yes, it is clean, it’s just got a little bit of muck in it!”

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