Province Archives

May 8, 2006

Early Monastic Hospitality

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 1:22 am

Monasteries were always seen as a place of refuge. Hospitality was one of their specialties, but even this must have limits, like the gem I have unearthed in our Archives.

            From the Original Rule of St. Benedict… 

 “If any pilgrim monk come from distant parts, with a wish as a guest to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs which he finds in place, and do not perchance by his lavishness disturb the monastery, but is simply content with what he finds, he shall be received for as long a time as he desires. 

If, indeed, he find fault with anything, or expose it, reasonably, and with the humility of charity, the Abbot shall discuss it prudently, less perchance God has sent him for this very thing. 

But, if he have been found gossipy and contumacious in the time of his sojourn as guest, it shall be said of him, honestly, that he must depart. 

If he does not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.”  


May 1, 2006

Passionist deported from Australia

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 1:51 am

Charles Jerger was born at St.Blasien in the Diocese of Freiburg in the Grand Duchy of Baden in Germany in 1869.

He was the son of Phillip Morlock and Wilhelmina Ellenwehn. His father died the year he was born, and his mother re-married two years later to John Jerger. John was born in Germany but was naturalised as a British subject in 1863.

As a child Charles moved to England with his parents and settled in Plymouth in Devonshire, he attended Beaconsfield College and later was a member of the Prince of Wales Rifles Volunteers in Devonport. His family came to Australia in 1888,  Charles after finishing school at Paramatta worked as a jeweller and watch repairer in Goulburn. Although his parents were naturalised citizens, his mother was not naturalised at the time he was born, and hence come the hysteria of the First World War he was officially classified as an alien (Although he had lived in Britain and Australia nearly all his life.)

He entered the Passionists on the 10th April 1893 and was Ordained a Priest in 1899 in Goulburn. He preached in many parts of Australia but was mainly based in Goulburn, Adelaide and Marrickville.

He was a very tall man, massive build, and very popular with both the Community and students, a gentle giant, but he did have a strong sense of justice, and this it seems was his undoing. He was known by the Parishioners of Parkside in Adelaide as a good man who performed many acts of kindness, He was respected by both by young and old for his jovial manner and his many eminent qualities won him lifelong friendships in the hearts of many Australians

He was stationed in Marrickville at the time the First World War broke out and it was here he spoke out about the issue of compulsory conscription. His sermon that caused the trouble was in September 1916. His objection was based on the inequality of Australian conscription compared to the British Conscription numbers. Australian Conscription rates were almost double the rate in England. Being of German Origin and having a German passport, did not endear him to a few of his audience, and a Parishioner screamed out he was a traitor and should be interned.

An enquiry was called for and Charles was interned in 1918. Huge protests were held at the Sydney Town Hall, and letters of protest beseiged the Government.

Politicians. Business Identities and the Sydney and Melbourne's Archbishops all voiced opposition, but to no avail. The government would not be swayed.

Because of his popularity and seemingly injustice in the case further protests and large scale demonstrations took place. The Government was unmoved but shipped him secretly to be deported. He was to be sent away on the SS Nestor by a police launch in Adelaide, but the crew of the Nestor refused to work unless he was given a fair trial. So he was eventually transferred to the P.O. liner Kyber, manned by a "coolie crew" and forbiden to berth in Fremantle where it was due to go. As the result of this deportation the watersiders placed a black ban on all P.O. ships to Australian ports, which was only lifted when the P.O. company convinced the watersiders that it had been forced to act under duress.

After leaving Australia Charles Jerger  was granted refuge with the S.V.D's at their head house in Holland later transferred to the United States, where his brother was a Physician, In 1922 he took up residence in St Paul's Retreat in Dublin, Ireland and finally in to join his English Passionists where he worked and eventually died of pneumonia.  He is now buried under the name of Morlock (His real father's name)

An interesting memento of this wonderful Passionist is a mantle clock in the Reception Room of St Joseph's Hobart, Tasmania, that once graced our Novitiate in Goulburn, and was altered by his skill as a watch-repairer to chime at the appropriate meditation times.

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!”

March 20, 2006

A Short Cut Novitiate

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 5:08 am

The usual training period for a student entering the Priesthood, or as a Brother, is after the completion of six months postulancy, and one year's Novitiate, Vows are then taken for three years and either final vows are taken or an extended term of postulancy of up to three years may be undertaken.

In more recent times Br Walter Nicholls C.P. had a shortened Novitiate of only six months.

Walter's exemption came about because of his age and health, more commonly known as "Nick" he was a skilled craftsman in wood, and worked with his father's wood turning business. Because of his craft, his skill and his loyalty to the Passionists he devoted much of his time to restoring and building furniture, pews and panelling at St. Josephs. Because of the hours he spent in this dedicated work he was invited to live with the community at St Josephs.

He then became a Passionist Oblate (The first in Australia) and in every way he lived the full life of a Passionist. At the age of 77 with special permission of the Superior General in Rome, Nick became a full member of the Passionist Congregation after have only completed a six month Novitiate.     While this was unusual it was not the first to have such a short Novitiate, because in 1877 a Samuel Gartland was ordained as Ildephonsus Gartland in Liverpool, England.

Ildephonsus served as a Passionist Missioner and Parish Priest in England, but whether tiredness or ill-health prevailed he left both the Passionists and England. It came to pass that he sought a warmer climate and began to work as a secular Priest in Rockhampton, Queensland. While working there news came through that the Passionists were about to make a second arrival in Australia. He yearned to make contact again with the men he had worked with and applied to rejoin. He was accepted but had to once more commence a Novitiate. Due to a shortage of active Missioners, and the previous knowledge that he was a very good Missioner, a dispensation was sought for him and he also had a much reduced Novitiate. It should be noted that by so doing he actually became the very first Passionist Novice to be accepted in Australia, and the very first to be Professed as a Passionist in Australia. Ildephonsus died at the age of 43 after working faithfully and diligently to his calling.

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

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