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.