No. 346 - 'St Teresa' at Kimberley- 'The Little Flower'

Kimberley is a small settlement midway between Deloraine and Sheffield. The area was originally known as Kimberley’s Ford and was the site of a convict probation station. Kimberley was once a thriving village with a school, railway station, shops and three churches. Now only a few houses remain and the Anglican Church of St Michael is about to close.

The approach taken in this blog entry is a little different. Usually, I heavily redact newspaper reports on churches because the detail is overwhelming for modern readers. This time, I have used an unedited report from the Daily Telegraph on the opening of 'St Teresa' at Kimberley in October 1926. The 1500 word report is fairly typical of press coverage of churches at the time, reflecting the importance of region in Tasmanian society. While the detail is somewhat excruciating, it is well worth a read. The skills of reporters and correspondents in capturing such detail is remarkable and is a reason why reports such as these may be considered reliable historical evidence.

A second reason why I find the report worth reproducing is its poignancy. It is written at a time when the Church was supremely confident in its doctrines and was steadfast in resisting worldly trends and fashions. It saw itself as unshakable and able to survive the rise and fall of civilisations. Perhaps it was this self-confidence, bordering on arrogance, that led the church to decay from within? The remarkable canonisation of Thérèse of Lisieux in 1925 may have been a subtle acknowledgement that the ‘little way’ might be the path of the Catholic Church.

“On, Sunday the new Catholic Church erected by the Very Rev. Father Monaghan, P.P., of Deloraine, was opened at Kimberley by the Archbishop of Hobart (Rev. Dr. W. Barry.) The church is erected on a prominent site consisting of an acre of ground on the Deloraine-road. The interior of the church is very handsome. The walls are plastered and the ceiling is in hardwood. From the door to the rails is 40ft., and from the rails to the back of the sanctuary is 16ft. The width of the nave and sanctuary, is 25ft…The altar is in blackwood, as are the side altars. The seats are of hardwood, and all the furniture was made by H. Jones and Son. The statues are artistic, while the altar furnishing is rich, the candlesticks and vases being of brass. The Stations of the Cross are, large, and cost about £30.

On Sunday High Mass was celebrated at 11 am. by Father Monaghan, the Archbishop presiding in the sanctuary. After the gospel, His Grace preached an eloquent sermon on the life and virtues of Saint Teresa, after whom the Church is named. Dinner was served in Cullen's Hall as the official opening ceremony had been fixed for 3 p.m. At that hour there was a very large attendance of the public, people coming from all the surrounding districts. The Ven. Archdeacon Beechinor and Rev. T. J. O'Donnell were also present. The Archbishop, vested in cape and mitre, blessed the commemorative tablet, which was in marble, and was inserted in the foundation. The exterior of the church was then blessed, following which the altar and interior were blessed. Owing, to the large number present it was not possible to accommodate them all in the church, and the addresses were given in the open. Father Monaghan extended a welcome to the Archbishop, and thanked him for the interest he had shown in their new work. Continuing, he said that for several years the people of Kimberley had been working for a new church, and they had looked forward to the ceremony that day. Many of those who had taken an active part in it were no longer with them, they having passed into a better world. But he was sure they were with them in spirit. He thanked all who had assisted during the past years in the effort to raise funds to have a church at Kimberley. He also thanked those from outside the parish who had come there that day. To the rector and wardens of the Church of England he wished to extend thanks for the loan of the organ for that day's ceremonies, as they had not, yet procured their own. They deeply appreciated that kindly act.

Father Monaghan then read the statement of receipts and expenditure. The amount raised up to date was £930, the total expenditure being £915 6s 6d. They had yet to procure Confessional Prie Dieu Stables, etc.,which were estimated at £60. He hoped that the people would allow him that day to declare the Church erected free of debt.

The Archbishop expressed his great pleasure at being there that day. It was a day long looked forward to by the Catholic people of the district. He congratulated Father Monaghan and his people on their good work. They had erected a handsome church. It was a credit to the Contractors Messrs B. Jones and Sons, who had already erected several buildings for the Church on the Coast. They were all excellent for workmanship, and for the reasonable price asked. He was pleased to see so many present, especially from outside the Deloraine parish. That showed an excellent spirit of goodwill and faith. They had that day performed a great work for the glory of God. The building of churches was always a good work, and he was always willing to grant permission for the erection of them. Many buildings were erected for other purposes. They were built for political, scientific, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and many other purposes. But those who built churches were the best builders. All other buildings would one day crumble to ruins. Those who built churches, built for eternity. It was in the churches that men's true work was performed. They were erected to the glory of God, from whom they all came and unto whom all must return. The Church was doing the greatest of all work. That morning they had gathered in the church for the great sacrifice, and they were thus united with all the Church and all the Catholic people in every land where the sacrifice was offered as was predicted from the rising of the sun till the going down thereof. Their new Church was the first in Tasmania to be dedicated to Saint Teresa commonly called “The Little Flower”. She was canonised only last year. Her life was remarkable for its heroic virtue. She was honored by the church because of that wonderful life and her life was an answer to the paganism and materialism of the present age, when so many did not honor God at all.

Her life was one of absolute abandonment to God. In her hidden life of sanctity she was not disturbed by the great bustling world taken up as it was in its pursuit of pleasures and riches. She was a living proof that the Church of God was still as ever that grace giving institution that it was set up by Christ to be when He founded it on the rock of Peter. Centuries have succeeded, one another. Empires and nations have come and gone… great events have stirred the world . . . there have been wars and upheavals that have shaken civilisation to its foundations… but the Church has emerged from all conflicts and has survived everything that was merely human. She has seen the rise and fall of every kingdom and still after nearly 2000 years of her existence is vigorous as she ever was. She proclaimed now as ever the teachings of the Saviour of the world . . . she stood in the twentieth century with all its progress and scientific development for the sermon that the Divine Master preached from the Mount and for the doctrines that He enunciated.  She has not, does not, and never will make a compromise with the world. She still proclaims the Kingdom of God and holds aloft the standard of Christ on which are emblazoned the ten Commandments, the precepts and maxims of the Divine Teacher. The commission she received from Him she still holds to with unabated tenacity proclaiming in every land to all classes and colors to rich and poor the one and only gospel of Christ Son of God. Jesus Christ yesterday and to-day and the same forever. She sees no reason for changing with an ever changing world or for toning down her divine doctrines to meet the temper of the age.

In continuation of her Divine Mission they were that day dedicating to God their new church set in the midst of beautiful natural scenery that was but an expression of God himself. Its mission there was to beautify the soul of men and make them fit for the kingdom of His glory. They were that day consummating the work of the grand old pioneer priests and the pioneer Catholics of the district. He hoped that their new church would be a centre of great spiritual activity, the house of prayer and consolation and the veritable gate to Heaven.

Rev. T. J. O'Donnell said he was pleased to join with the people of Kimberley on that grand day. He congratulated Father Monaghan and the people on the very fine church, so beautifully designed, well built and artistically furnished. There were some further additions required and he asked them to make a generous donation so that the church could be opened free of debt. The collection was then taken up and the sum of £92 was received. As many as were able then entered the church where Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given by the Archbishop. The choir from Deloraine sang the hymns. Miss Fitzpatrick presiding at the organ. The ceremony concluded at 4.30 .with the singing of “Faith of our Fathers.” Father Monaghan received many congratulations on the completion of the church and of the day's successful ceremony. The church and equipment had cost over £1000 and was opened free of debt”.


The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 25 October, 1926


St Terese at Kimberley. Source: Planting a Faith

Sources:

Southerwood, W. T Planting a faith in Tasmania. Southerwood, Hobart, 1970.


Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 5 October 1926, page 5

Advocate, Monday 4 October 1926, page 2
Advocate, Tuesday 5 October 1926, page 7
Examiner, Wednesday 6 October 1926, page 12

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