Sixt, August Br. (1868-1954)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter
Birth / Death: 

born 3 March 1868 Marktfriedenfeld, Würzburg

died 4 February 1954, Beagle Bay, age 85

One of the first Pallottine Brothers at Beagle Bay, was expelled but maintained close contact with the mission and conducted a market garden nearby, buried at Beagle Bay.


Brs. White, Walter, Kaspark, Sixt


August Sixt was born on 3 March 1868 in Marktfriedenfeld near Würzburg (Bavaria) as one of nine children of Pastor Ludwig and Antonia Sixt. He attended the local school from age 6 to 13 and at age 15 was mustered for military service but rejected (ausgesondert). He then spent a year with the Benedictines.


He was 29 when he applied as a Pallottine Brother in 1897. His application indicates that he had no trade and no qualifications. His father and three siblings had died and five were still alive. To the question what we was able to afford to pay while living at the Limburg monastery, he answered that after the death of his mother his 'entire fortune' (mein ganzes Vermögen) will come to the mission society. Presumably this meant he had absolutely nothing - other than what his widowed mother would one day bestow on her six children. He did not aspire to be a priest.1


Despite this lack of promise, he made his first profession in 1899 and was chosen for the first Pallottine mission in Australia, taking over from the Trappists at Beagle Bay. The Pallottine Provincial in Limburg, Fr. Max Kugelmann, suggested Sixt for this pioneering role along with Brothers Kasparek, Gall and Schulte. As it turned out, Br. Heinrich Schulte quit the Pallottines, and Br. Max Gall declined the offer, and the designated superior of the new mission, Fr. Georg Walter, thought that two Brothers would be sufficient:


For the time being, just sent me Sixt the gardener. Here [in Rome] they want to also give me Br. Reinhard, although he is much needed, and two brothers would be enough. So please just send me Br. Sixt as soon as I send word. 2     Read in German   3


The 'much needed' Br. Reinhard was not sent from Rome after all,4 so Sixt and Kasparek became the two Brothers to accompany Fr. Patrick White and Fr. Georg Walter, arriving in April 1901. Six more Brothers and Fr. Rensmann arrived in 1902 and 1903.


Tensions emerged early as the Brothers travelled in third class below deck, while Fr. Walter travelled second class (see Wollseifer letters). The Brothers were unhappy about having to wear the heavy habit for hard outdoor work in the tropical heat and wanted to have a copy of the rules to see for themselves what the Society required of them. 5 The Brothers in their later correspondence referred to Walter’s regime as ‘not as bad as some made out’, but clearly there was dissent among the Pallottines in the difficult first years, particularly between Sixt and Fr. Walter. Walter stayed at the mission but a short while before withdrawing to the relative comforts of Broome, and became preoccupied with the dire financial situation of the mission. Two Trappists were still in the Kimberley, Fr. Janny at Disaster Bay who watched over Fr. Walter to ensure that the financial obligations to the Trappists were met, and Fr. Emo in Broome, with whom Walter had a fall-out in 1904/1905.


In 1902 and 1903 Brothers Graf, Sixt and Wesely were due for their eternal profession. Walter reluctantly endorsed the profession of Graf, while Wesely asked Limburg in June 1903 for clarification about who had authority to make such decisions. Sixt took the position (around 1904) that if his eternal profession was refused he demanded to be paid for his work. Fr. Bischofs informally took over the day-to-day management of Beagle Bay mission in mid-1905 while Fr. Walter as mission superior moved back to Broome. At some time in 1906 there was an altercation in which Sixt 'struck the cleric' (most likely Fr. Walter). Walter banished Sixt from the mission community and ordered him to present himself to the Provincial in Limburg. In fact Wesely, Hoffmann and Sixt were sent to Germany, probably around May 1906.


Instead of presenting himself at Limburg Sixt, like Wesely, went home to his family. According to his Pallotine superiors this rendered him a ‘fugitive’ in canon law, because he did not have a dispensation from his vows from the Apostolic See. (On the other hand if his eternal profession had been refused he was not technically a member of the Society.6) In a letter to the Limburg Provincial, Sixt apparently expressed ‘an infernal hatred for some of his confreres’7 - presumably these were comments about Fr. Walter. Later Sixt returned to Beagle Bay mission, where Fr. Bischofs was now in charge. Having been ‘excommunicated’ by Walter, Sixt no longer attended mass or partook of the holy sacraments, and kept apart from the others. In May 1907 Bischofs wrote that he would send Sixt away from the mission if only he had the money.8    Read in German 9


Shortly afterwards Sixt was recalled to Germany. This raised the spectre of a wage backpay, amidst much publicity over the new industrial legislation in Australia. In November 1907 Justice Higgins in the Arbitration Court had brought down a sentence in the Sunshine Harvesters case, which set a national minimum standard of wages of 7 shillings a day for men. Walter commented:


I am glad that Br. Sixt has finally been recalled but am afraid that he could cause us scandal and quit the Society and demand a high wage. According to the law of the land he could do this, since no contract in which the employee eschews wages, is legally valid here, and in such a case the minimum wage of 7 Mark per day is awarded. This was a decision handed down in the case of a cloister of sisters. Br Sixt demanded this wage three years ago. 10     Read in German 11


Paying this minimum wage would have amounted to between £90 and £130 per year, and a three-year payout would have bankrupted the mission.


The trouble with Sixt did not stop there. Sixt went to live near the mission, at first with the Aboriginal/Filipino family of Margarita and Joe Marsalino [also spelled Marsal, or Marcellino], captain of the mission boat who lived between the bay and the mission. In 1909, when the third consignment of staff was sent to Beagle Bay, the Limburg Provincial Fr. V. Kopf decided to accompany them as a surprise 'Visitation'. The official report of this visit has not been found, but there is a scribbled note on Sixt’s file by ‘V. Kopf, Provincial and Apostolic Visitor’ to the effect that Bischofs was to ask Sixt to either seek a release from the Pallottines, return to them, or negotiate with Kopf.12 Sixt refused, so the Provincial himself called twice at Marsalino’s house, accompanied by Bischofs and White, to order Sixt to return to the mission. Sixt refused to budge. Unable to remove Sixt from the surrounds, Kopf then invoked the oath of obedience to order the whole mission community to eschew any contact with Sixt.13   Read in German 14


In religious life, the vow of obedience is seldom invoked, and only in extreme instances. To disobey under such circumstances is considered a serious sin. To avoid further scandal, his superiors now sought to have Sixt formally dispensed from his religious vows. They drafted a letter to the Holy See but it is unlikely that this letter was ever sent. Kopf was replaced as Provincial, and Walter removed himself to the relative isolation of his family property in Germany. Although Sixt is recorded as having left the Pallottines in 190715, the Pallottine headquarters in Rome record no decision by the general council in this case.16 (Presumably because Sixt's profession had expired.)


Sixt remained in the vicinity of the mission and maintained cordial contact with the missionaries, frequently appearing in the diary of Fr. Droste. He supplied fresh vegetables to the pearling fleets of Robinson and Norman17 and employed Aboriginal workers. According to the police journals two young men Charley and David were signed on to work for him in January 1912.18 In May 1913 two of his Aboriginal workers ran away. Billy was found camping in a creek and was ordered back. In July 1913 Leo and his wife Nobby, and Bobby and Mary were signed on with Sixt. 19 Sixt's market garden also supported the missionaries with food in times of need and Brother 20


Sixt lost contact with his family in Germany and to an inquiry from his sister Josefine in Frankfurt, the Provincial in Limburg responded that her brother was still alive and in close contact with the mission.21 At age 70 Sixt requested readmission to the society, and was refused, but the General Council in Rome had no objection to him being admitted to Beagle Bay mission to be looked after there.22 The following year the sodality of the Children of Mary was transformed at Beagle Bay to train indigenous women as nuns, and their chapel was funded anonymously by August Sixt in 1938.23 Nailon writes:


‘From 1908 until his death 4 February 1954, Augustine Sixt kept a garden some miles from the mission, nearer the beach and supplied produce to pearlers and people in Broome. He kept in touch with the mission throughout his long life. When Bro. William Schreiber, a Pallottine brother brought him to the mission to die, the people stood in the doorways of their stone houses watching sadly. Lena Cox a local Aboriginal identity said, ‘He bin finished, he got no back any more.’ Fr. J. Jobst sat by his bedside holding his hand as the life ebbed from the 87 year old. He was buried in the mission cemetery beside his brothers. The convent chapel for the native sisters of Beagle Bay is a memorial to him, for he had donated the money for it anonymously in the 1940s. He left his farm and cottage to the Sisters of St John of God.’24


The Beagle Bay cemetery

A view of the Beagle Bay cemetery in 2001.

Courtesy: Roberta Cowan, Rossmoyne





In German - A

Ich glaubte Sie hätten schon Kasparek und den Schulte u. Gal [sic] bestimmt. Wenn Br. Max [Gall] nicht kommen will, all right. .....

Schicken Sie mir aber vorderhand nur Sixt den Gärtner. Hier will man mir noch Br. Reinhard der zwar sehr nötig ist mitgeben u. zwei Brüder würden genügen. Bitte also Br. Sixt wenn ich darum schreibe, mir gleich schicken. 3

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In German - B

Sixt hätte ich schon lange fortgeschickt, wenn ich das nötige Geld hätte. Es geht halt nicht mehr mit ihm. Er lebt ziemlich getrennt von den anderen. Er hat Krach gehabt mit P. Walter wurde excommuniciert und seit der Zeit geht er auch nicht mehr zu den hl. Sakramenten. Zur Messe und zu den Übungen geht er auch per forma weil ich ihn darum gebeten habe. Bei meiner Rückkehr werde ich noch mal versuchen ihn zu den Sakramenten zu bringen, wenn er es auch nur aus Liebe zu mir tut; es ist dann stets noch besser als Ärgernis. 9

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In German - C

Freut mich dass man endlich Br. Sixt abberufen hat; doch fürchte ich daß er uns eventuell noch Scandal macht und austreten aus d. Gesellschaft + einen hohen Lohn fordert. Nach dem Landesgesetze hier könnte er das, da kein Vertrag der auf Arbeitslohn von Seite der Arbeitnehmer verzichtet, als nicht gültig anerkannt wird und dem Arbeiter in dem Fall der Minimallohn 7 M pro Tag zugesprochen wird. Das wurde in einem Falle gegen ein Kloster von Schwestern durch Richterspruch entschieden. Br. Sixt hat schon vor 3 Jahren diesen Lohn gefordert. Hoffentlich geht es diesmal ohne Scandal ab, aber es war von Anfang ein Fehler von P. Kugelmann uns solche Leute zu schicken. Ich habe ihm das schon öfter geschrieben. 11

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In German - D 


Hiermit bevollmächtigt der Unterzeichnete

den Hochw. P Josef Bischofs PSM

den ehrw. Br. August Sixt aufzufordern,

sofort schriftlich um eine Entlassung aus der Gesellschaft einzukommen, widrigenfalls ihn in Gegenwart zweier Zeugen sub obedientia zu befehlen

sich innerhalb 6 Tagen sich in Beagle Bay Mission

in die Commmunität zurückzuziehen

oder mit dem Unterzeichneten zu verhandeln.


V. Kopf PSM Provinzial und Visitat , 2. 3. 1909. 

(Annotated in a different hand:)

Diesen Brief verlas ich dem obengenannten Br Aug. Sixt

in Gegenwart zweier Zeugen,

to witness – Margarita x + Joe Marsalino x.” 


Zum 2. und 3. Mal rief der Pater Provinzial selbst

am 14 März im Hause Marsalios

Aug. Sixt sub obedientia ad communitatem zurück

in Gegenwart von P Bischofs und P White,

wohl aber antwortete der Bezeichnete

Ich gehe nicht.

Verbot für die B. Bay Communität sub obedientia

mit Aug. Sixt zu verkehren

in Aufforderung des P. Bischofs

ihn auf legalem Weg aus der Nähe der Mission zu schaffen. 14

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1 Fragebogen, in Sixt August, ex-Br. P1.-28 ZAPP.

2 Walter in Rome to Kugelmann, Provinzial in Limburg, 6’4 (annotated November 1900), Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

3 Walter in Rome to Kugelmann, Provinzial in Limburg, 6’4 (annotated November 1900), Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

4 Walter in Rome to Kugelmann, Provinzial Limburg, 6’4 (annotated November 1900), Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

5 Wesely to Novicemaster [Kolb] in Limburg, n.d., his first letter from Australia, around mid-1903, re-sent with a note on 24 June 1903, in Raimund Wesely, Br. Ex- ZAPP.

6 The only profession recorded for Sixt is in 1899 (Leugers 2004:535). According to Wesely (24 June 1903) this was not the eternal profession. Antonia Leugers Eine geistliche Unternehmensgeschichte – Die Limburger Pallottiner-Provinz 1892-1932, St. Ottilien EOS Verlag 2004:535.

7 ‘Beatissimie Padre’, undated draft of a letter to the Holy See, in Sixt P1-28 ZAPP. Translated by Br. Christian Moe.

8 Bischofs from Perth to Provinzial 11. 5. 07, Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

9 Bischofs from Perth to Provinzial 11. 5. 07, Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

10 Walter in Ballarat to Provincial in Limburg, 16. November 1907, Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

11 Walter in Ballarat to Provincial in Limburg, 16. November 1907, Australien 1900-1907 B7 d.l.(3) ZAPP.

12 Sixt P1.-28 ZAPP.

13 Sixt P1.-28 ZAPP.

14 Sixt P1.-28 ZAPP.

15Antonia Leugers Eine geistliche Unternehmensgeschichte – Die Limburger Pallottiner-Provinz 1892-1932, St. Ottilien EOS Verlag 2004:53.

16 Karl Hoffmann, PSM, Rome, 27. January 1937 to Provinzial, Sixt P.1-28 ZAPP.

17 Constable Watson to Intelligence Corbett 9 June 1917 NAA PP14/1/0 – 4/4/22 (B795928) C NAA.

18 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable J.T. Johnston (902) 1.1.1912 to 1.2.1912,

ITEM-1912/1347 SROWA.

19 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.5.1913 to 31.5.1913 ITEM-1913/3772 and Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.7.1913 to 31.7.1913 ITEM-1913/5212, SROWA.

20 Diary of Wilhelm Droste, September 1913 to May 1920, in Droste, Wilhelm P. P1-17 ZAPP

21 Josefine Sixt to Provincial, March 1940 (very faint, barely legibile), in Sixt August, ex-Br. P1.-28 ZAPP.

22 Karl Hoffmann PSM in Rome to Provinzial in Limburg, 27 January 1937, Sixt P.1-28 ZAPP.

23 Margaret Zucker From Patrons to Partners, A history of the Catholic church in the Kimberley, Broome, University of Notre Dame Press, 1994 :115.

24 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:25.