Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter

 

The MSC had many German-speaking missionaries in Papua New Guinea, but few in Australia besides Bishop Gsell.

 

 

Foundation at Issoudun

 

The Missionnaires du Sacré-Coeur were founded in 1854 by Fr. Jules Chevalier (1824-1907) as a missionary religious congregation, with the predominantly Protestant region of Issoudun as its first target. Chevalier, a defender of the Ancien Regime, sought a return to pre-revolution values.1 To compensate for the loss of the aristocracy, which had traditionally been the Catholic Church's strongest support, he fostered a strong emphasis on laity. The first apostolic school opened in Chezal-Benoît in 1867, and was called the 'Petit-Oeuvre' because it was funded by public appeals to donate 'a penny a year' (a 'small work' of charity). Young boys from Catholic villages, who could not otherwise have afforded an education, were recruited by visiting missionaries who sought to inspire them for religious life and Catholic education.

 

The Kulturkampf between German chancellor Bismarck and the Pope, resulting in the expulsion of various Catholic orders from Prussia, was mirrored in France, where the Benedictines were also expelled and free public schooling introduced (1880-1882). Taking the church beyond Europe seemed the best way of ensuring its long-term survival. Consequently the MSC profiled itself as a multinational organisation seeking opportunities with governments of various nationalities, particularly as the contestations between Catholic and Protestant churches became mapped onto competing colonial aspirations, such as between the French, German and British in the Pacific and the Americas. The MSC's first overseas foundation was among French Canadians in Watertown in the United States, but a vacancy in Auckland in 1879 had to be passed up for lack of volunteers.2 In 1881 Pope Leo XIII devolved to Chevalier the Vicariate Apostolic of Melanesia and Micronesia, and therefore the MSC took on responsibility for the Catholic missions in Oceania, which included the Philippines and Australia.

 

Derays

La Nouvelle France, a Catholic kingdom in the Pacific as envisioned by the Marquis de Rays

Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

The debacle of the first voyage

 

Rome became interested in this area around this time because a fervent Catholic aristocrat was planning to erect a 'New France' along the lines of the Ancien Regime, with himself as king, a landed aristocracy, and the Catholic Church at the apex. The Marquis de Rays (Charles Bonaventure du Breil) had chosen eastern New Guinea as the site of this Xanadu based on the glowing accounts of 'Port Praslin' in the Solomon Islands by Louis Isidore Duperrey, who had commanded La Coquille with Jules Dupont d'Urville (1822-1825). The Italian and French governments declared the project a fraud and issued injunctions, so the migrant fleet left from Barcelona instead with over 500 French, German and Italian colonists. These arrived at Kavieng in 1880 to find all promises broken. Some 200 Italians were able flee to New Caledonia, and from there to New South Wales in April 1881, where they formed the New Italy community near Lismore.

 

The first MSC expedition to the Pacific was caught up in this debacle.3 The MSC had at this time been evicted from France, along with other Catholic orders, and had a house in Barcelona. They had been promised free passage for all their missionaries, free land, free food and lodging, protection as official agents of the colony, and a chapel. The warnings from two parish priests who were already at Kavieng with the colonists, arrived too late. Five MSC (Fr. Durin, Fr. Louis-André Navarre, Fr. Cramaille, Br. George Durin, Br. Fromm) left Barcelona on 1 September 1881 under false names, adopting Spanish identities to escape the vigilance of the French consuls along the way, a subterfuge that backfired and raised suspicions against them.

 

When they arrived at Manila the colony's ship was not there to pick them up as planned, so they underwent a three-day quarantine and then stayed with the Augustinian fathers in Manila. However 'Dom Pasquale' and 'Padre Simon Rodriquez' were clearly not what they pretended to be.

 

'The newspapers in Manila ... threw some doubts on our intentions and looked on us as adventurers who perhaps were not priests at all since we had hidden our names ... It was the beginning of the humiliations we had to bear because of our connection with the colony.'4

 

When the colony ship did arrive and tried to stock up on supplies it was requisitioned and embargoed for bad debts. The priests already had cabins on the ship when they witnessed a violent tirade by the 'governor' of the colony against the Marquis and the church. They realised that the colony was not a reliable option and took the next best ship to Singapore trying to either get back to Europe or make another attempt for New Guinea. They wrote to the Vicar Apostolic of Batavia to inform him that they would pass through his territory, but before they got a reply there offered a Chinese ship for Makasar, which was taking home 150 hadjis from their pilgrimage to Mecca, stopping all along the coasts of Sumatra and Java. When they reached Makasar in December 1881 the boat for Amboina had just left, so they would have to wait for another month. Here they received a reply from the Bishop of Batavia, recalling them to Batavia (Jakarta) to obtain the requisite permission to traverse the Dutch territory.

 

They had travelled under false names, been suspected of fraud, were now travelling illegally, and Fr. Durin fell so sick that he went home to France with his nephew George Durin via Singapore. The other three purchased tickets to Batavia via Surabaya, at what they felt were inflated prices demanded by the Chinese merchants. They were ready to go home but felt that they lacked the proper justification. Meanwhile Fr. Denis in the colony was now in irons, while Fr. Lannunzel had escaped to Cooktown. Lannunzel's information reached Fr. Chevalier in Issoudun in February 1882 not to trust the colony, but that the vicariate was beautiful, interesting and promising, and that he would wait for the others at Cooktown and then make his way to Rabaul.

 

After six months with Jesuits in Jakarta the three MSC obtained visas, instructions and then tickets to Australia via Singapore. At Singapore the ship to Cooktown was already booked out and they had to beg the captain to accept them. At Darwin they baptised three children (including Josephine Pickford) at the request of the Telegraph Station director before proceeding through Torres Strait to Cooktown. Alas Fr. Lannunzel had by now given up waiting for them and had already left for Europe, but they met Fr. Pierre Bucas5 visiting the north and Monsignor Fortini, the pro-vicar Apostolic recently appointed to this region.

 

The 'New France' fiasco had been all over the papers by now. Still, instead of waiting for their connection from Cooktown to New Britain, which was delayed, the three (Fr. Navarre, Fr. Cramaille, and Br. Fromm) made their way to Sydney on a coastal steamer in order to accept the offer of free passage on the Chandernagor, one of the failed colony's ships, shipping coal to Manilla. Fr. Ambrosoli, of the failed Marist mission at Woodlark Island (Murua) 1845-1855, advised them to do so, but many others, including the French consul, counselled them against accepting the offer on the Chandernagor, which had been blacklisted and was impossible to crew (until August 1882). The Chandernagor pulled in for five days at Port Breton and the captain tried to persuade them to stay in the blockhouse with the remaining colonists, but they now feared that he was trying to strand them there and refused to leave the ship. Finally they managed to convince him to drop them at White Bay on the west coast of New Ireland, which had banana plantations, a copra farm, a German counting-house and native villages and was called Matupit (or Matoupi), later Rabaul.6 A voyage that should have taken three months had become a 13-months pilgrimage: leaving Barcelona in September 1881, to travel via Manila - Singapore - Makasar - Surabaya - Jakarta - Singapore - Darwin - Thursday Island - Cooktown - Sydney - Port Breton - to Rabaul.

 

The MSC in the colonial Pacific

 

While first MSC missionaries to be sent overseas were setting up a toehold at Rabaul (New Britain). Meanwhile the MSC founder Fr. Chevalier partnered Marie Louise Hartzer to form a dependent sister organisation, the Filles de Sacre Coeur de Notre Dame (Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart) in 1882 preparing to send out nuns.

 

In April 1883 the Queensland government, wary of German colonial ambitions in its neighbourhood, attempted an annexation of Papua. The British annulled this move and declared a British protectorate instead, but still, Thursday Island became an important gateway to New Guinea.

 

The MSC responded swiftly to these developments in its ecclesiastical territory. A multinational MSC contingent arrived at Thursday Island in October 1884 (Fr. Louis-André Navarre, Fr. Ferdinand Hartzer, and Br. Giuseppe de Santis and three young Italian Brothers, Mariano Travaglini, Nicola Marconi and Salvador Gasbarra).7 They purchased land at the first land sale on the island in January 1885, and erected a church and dwelling. Their congregation consisted mostly of Filipinos participating in the pearling industry. A Sisters' convent was added and the first three French Sisters arrived in January 1886, opened a school 1887 (which also taught the children of government resident John Douglas), established the first hospital in Torres Strait and a charitable children's asylum serving New Guinea and New Britain. The Sisters therefore entrenched the MSC in the leadership of an emerging community. During this period (1884-1889) Thursday Island served as the point of departure for all Catholic missionaries to British New Guinea and New Britain.8 Setting up a base on Thursday Island mirrored the London Missionary Society (LMS) strategy since 1871 of establishing stepping stones across the Torres Strait and New Guinea.

 

After the German annexation of New Guinea the island was divided between British and German colonial administrations. Lutheran missionaries from the Rhenish mission society (Rheinische Missionsgesellschaft) were invited to territories administered by the German New Guinea Company, while the British hosted the LMS. The MSC began to compete directly with the LMS by establishing a mission at Yule Island in July 1885, which the LMS considered to be in its ecclesiastical territory.

 

Yule Island became a stronghold of Catholic influence, facilitated by fourteen Filipino cathechists who arrived with the MSC missionaries from Queensland and married into the local population.9 Yule Island became the MSC headquarters when the Melanesian and Micronesian vicariate was divided into three in 1889. Louis-André Navarre (1836-1912) became Bishop (later Archbishop) of British New Guinea stationed at Yule Island (until Port Moresby became the MSC headquarters). By 1889 the MLC had 47 missionaries in New Guinea.10 A photograph dated 1892 shows nearly twenty missionaries on Yule Island, where the entire population was baptised in 1891.11 In 1912 Yule Island housed 25 missionaries, 21 lay brothers and 38 nuns12 and regularly serviced 78 villages with visits.13 This successful Catholic penetration of the villages was in no small part due to the assistance of the Filipino lay helpers, who gained a very positive reputation in Papua.14 This, too, mirrored the strategy of the LMS who brought Pacific Islanders to their new island stations and sometimes placed them in charge, such as in the Torres Strait.

 

Yule Island Missionaries

Yule Island missionaries 1892,
Bishop Alain de Boismenu (seated 2nd from right)

Source: "Yule.island.missionaries.1892" by unknown, credit was to 'Postcardman' -
Invading Papua New Guinea, Pinoy Style by Alfredo P. Hernandez.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yule.island.missionaries.1892.jpg#/media/File:Yule.island.missionaries.1892.jpg

 

 

From 1889 German Catholic missionaries could proceed directly to the German territories, so only the non-German Catholics needed to proceed via Thursday Island. Responding to these new developments the MSC established a Dutch Province at Antwerp (a German colonial port) in 1894, and a German Province in Hiltrup near Münster in 1897. To facilitate the entry of Sisters into German New Guinea Fr. Hubert Linckens formed the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1900 in Hiltrup. The German Province of the MSC oversaw the MSC missions in German New Guinea, but its members might still have been trained at Issoudun. For example, among the ten 'Baining martyrs' of the German MSC Province killed in 1904 during an attack on St. Paul's mission in Baining (near Rabaul) one Dutch and one German priest had studied with Gsell at Issoudun. The transnational face of the MSC allowed it to adapt easily to changing political circumstances.

 

Sydney was still the supply base for the PNG missions, and to better extend into the British dominions the MSC began recruiting locally by opening a training college in Kensington (Sydney) in December 1897.15 The college commenced with staff and students brought from France, including Fr. Jules Vandel as novice master, Fr. F. X. Gsell as teacher, François-Régis Courbon and at least one other French novice, and it is likely that they all arrived in Australia together on 20 October 1897 (the arrival date of Gsell). Fr. Courbon was ordained in Manly in December 1902, presumably the first graduate of the Kensington college. A separate Australian province was erected in Sydney in 1905, so from that date the activities of the MSC in Australia could no longer be considered foreign.

 

The MSC in Torres Strait

 

The musically talented Fr. Joseph Guis (born at Auriol in 1869, died 1913) was stationed at Thursday Island, first to train cathechists for the Papuan mission, and later to train Sisters for aged care.16 Thursday Island counted as one of the islands in the vicariate of British New Guinea that Bishop Navarre administered until 1908. Its various Catholic institutions became an important presence in the poly-ethnic Thursday Island community, competing with the London Missionary Society that had made a promising start at Mer and Erub (Murray and Darnley Islands) in the Torres Strait.

 

After World War I the pearling industry and the importance of Thursday Island as an administrative centre declined and the MSC reached out to the Torres Strait islands. Thursday Island parish priest Fr. Jack Doyle erected a mission church on Naghir Island in 1935 and a mission for mixed descendants on Hammond Island (Keriri) in 1929.17 When Fr. Gsell MSC became bishop of Darwin in 1938, the Torres Strait mission was transferred from the Vicariate Apostolic of Papua to the diocese of Darwin, and therefore became part of the Australian MSC province. Just a few years later dramatic wartime evacuations of civilians from the north took place when 459 White, coloured and indigenous people from Thursday Island and Hammond Island were crowded into the Ormiston in 1942 and sent south, many of them to Cooyar.18

 

Thursday Island is now part of the Diocese of Cairns.19 The MSC priests were replaced with diocesan clergy and the MSC Sisters with Sisters of Mercy. The parish currently comprises Thursday Island (Waibene) Hammond Island (Keriri) Horn Island (Nurupai) and Bamaga. 20

 

The MSC in the Northern Territory

 

Young Fr. Gsell arrived in Australia in October 1897 as part of the logistical support team for the MSC missions in PNG. He taught at the newly opened Kensington college and was procurator for the PNG missions. Within a few years an Austrian Jesuit mission in the Daly River collapsed (1899) and the French Trappist mission in the Kimberley was wound down (1900) but the MSC expressed no interest in north Australian missions located in a newly created vicariate held by a diocesan bishop. Instead the German Pallottines were invited to take on the Kimberley or, that failing, the Daly River. 21

 

The ecclesiastical administration of the Northern Territory was nominally held by Bishop Kelly of Geraldton since 1898 but in practice the diocese was without ministry once the last Jesuits left Darwin in 1902. The MSC agreed to fill the void with the office of an apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Victoria-Palmerston. Gsell was recalled from Yule Island (1900-1906), appointed (23 April 1906) and stationed in Darwin with an expectation that he would pick up where the Jesuits left off: extend the Catholic ministry in the town and continue the disbanded Daly River mission.22 Instead Gsell waited for the Federal government to take on the administration of the Northern Territory and then opted for Bathurst Island to commence a mission in 1911.

 

Like other MSC stations, the one led by Gsell was staffed with a multinational team. The only other German-speaking staff in the Bathurst Island mission were Br. Lambert Fehrmann, (1911-1913, 1914-1917) and possibly Fr. W.M. Henschke MSC (1915 - 1921) and Pierre de Hayr, a Dutch sawmiller (ca. 1942 - ca. 1962). Gsell obtained naturalisation in 1909, and the early establishment of a college at Kensington paid off with a good supply of Australian-born priests.

 

Perhaps this is why there is hardly a mention of the impact of World War I on the mission, when other German missionaries were under close scrutiny, with their mail intercepted by censors. From 1906 to 1922 eleven MSC staff passed through Darwin and at Bathurst Island with a high turnover of Australian priests and a scarcity of Brothers. One incident in 1915 was during an official visitation in Australia by Fr. Linckens from Hiltrup. He was said to cause tension with Australian confrères with his 'Germanic way of acting' and was denounced to the Minister of Defence as a spy.23

 

The mission policy on Bathurst Island bore Gsell's strong imprint, developing the attempts already made by the Jesuits to control marriages. Like the Jesuits before him, Gsell was outspoken about the detrimental impact of contact, particularly with Asians, on Aboriginal people. The Macassan trepang visits had been prohibited in 1906, but the pearling camps had now become attractive alternative gathering sites. Contact with Japanese pearling crews increased greatly during the 1930s and could lead to violent conflict, as the Caledon Bay crisis (1932-1934) demonstrated. The Caledon Bay massacres led to competing applications from the Church Mission Society and the Methodist mission society to establish a mission in East Arnhem Land. 24 Fr. Gsell also applied for permission to establish further missions in view of what he feared may be the imminent collapse of the Tiwi mission. The Apostolic Delegate Philip Bernhardini considered the Daly River and Tennant Creek25 but in the event, the MSC opened missions in 1935 at Port Keats (Fr. Richard Docherty), also the site of recent killings of Japanese pearlers, and at Alice Springs (Little Flower Mission, Fr. Patrick Maloney) where a parish had already been formed in 1929 at the request of the apostolic delegate from Rome, Bishop Cattaneo.26 A Tennant Creek parish was started in 1936 by Fr. Wilfried Dew while the Pine Creek parish attempted in 1907 languished.27 Gsell was erected as Bishop in 1938 and neither he nor other German-speakers had a personal presence in the other MSC missions in the Northern Territory, but Gsell's policy imprint is clearly seen at Port Keats.

 

Channel Island was a less successful MSC venture. It had been a quarantine station and leprosarium since 1920 but after the evacuation of civilians from the north the patients were practically left to their own devices. In April 1943 OHLS Sisters were sent to Channel Island, reinforced by Br. Denis McCarthy and regular visits from Fr. Henschke. The inmates protested against departmental neglect with a petition in September 194628, and in October 1946 twenty-five patients absconded in protest.29 After five years of service Br. McCarthy was replaced, under accolades from the Department of Health, although there had been a fiasco over the death and burial of a patient.30 A departmental employee replaced the MSC staff in January 1949, and retained the Sisters, but now on salaries of £4/10 a week. It was now clear that if the MSC made staff available again, it would be on the minimum condition of a living allowance and free weekends.31

 

The MSC in World War II

 

The MSC worked closely with Australian military authorities when the north became a military zone, with about 50,000 soldiers stationed in Darwin and along the highway south to Mataranka. Br. Andrew Smith, former Petty Officer on the HMAS Geranium minesweeper, skippered the St. Francis that had been requisitioned by the navy, while the Pius was deployed in the Army’s Water Transport Unit in Darwin harbor.32 Fr. John McGrath at Bathurst Island became a coastwatcher (presumably with a designated military code for radio communications). On 19 February 1942 he spotted the advance of a 188-strong Japanese air-fleet towards Darwin and attempted to raise the alarm by alerting the coastal radio station VID Darwin at 9.37 am. Darwin RAAF headquarters ignored the warning, possibly because a fleet of American kitty-hawks was also making its way to Darwin. The same message from a naval coast-watcher at Melville Island was also ignored, 33 so the air raid alarm was sounded far too late, when the air-fleet appeared on the horizon. It was the first and most devastating of 64 Japanese air raids on Darwin resulting in 243 deaths.34

 

The Sisters had just been recalled from the missions. The Bathurst Island convent was evacuated to the mainland although some women continued to cook in the kitchen for staff and for visiting service officials. The sisters from Melville Island had just arrived in Darwin when the first bombing began, while the three sisters from Port Keats were still on the way, because Br. Smith had stopped the St. Francis on the way 'to allow the natives to hunt for some food' and therefore delayed the evacuation journey, otherwise they might have also been caught up in the bombing and would have presented a target in the harbour.35

 

MSC mission staff and residents assisted the military in various ways. After the first bombing the whole Northern Territory came under military control (22 February 1942 until 1945)36 and immediate civilian evacuations were ordered. Bishop Gsell evacuated to Alice Springs but most MSC priests remained in position. Br. Ted Bennett at Garden Point was able to render assistance to fleeing American troops, and a Tiwi man made the first arrest of a Japanese on Australian soil. A group of young men at Port Keats rushed to the site where a plane came down over the coast, but the plane was in flames and there was nothing they could do.37 Fr. Henschke stayed in Darwin as superior of the Northern Territory mission and RAAF chaplain38 with Br. Francis Quinn and Fr. John Cosgrove (at Darwin 1939-1945). They attempted to build a recreation centre for the troops in Darwin in order to curb undesirable socialising, but Henschke's fundraising appeal did not meet with much support (which is hardly surprising, since the US army was not known for a lack of funds).

 

Port Keats became a radar station staffed by the RAAF and the mission was moved further inland to Wadeye. Fr. Richard Docherty became a coast guard and used a designated code for military communications. He 'warned the servicemen off the Wadeye women' and organized sporting competitions with the RAAF. Br. Rex Pye, with flowing beard and fluttering trousers, outran the soldiers in a 100-yard sprint, and they subsequently claimed that his celibacy had given him the advantage.39 Fr. Docherty also had a beard, which caused the RAAF men to call him Ned Kelly. He was 'a grand old pappy type' who hit it off very well with Bill Flynn, making 'a good team'.40

 

MSC army chaplains

 

At the beginning of the war the military was in search of military chaplains, and Caruana MSC observes that in some instances this merely meant that the priests were paid to perform the job they had previously done for free.41 This was the case for Fr. Gerard Doody at Thursday Island who was faced with the choice either to leave, or to become military chaplain, when an army garrison of 3,000 mostly US soldiers was stationed there, taking over the MSC premises. 42

 

Robert Hyland MSC (1895-1966) was liaison officer between the New Britain missions and the military authorities during World War I, and during World War II he became military chaplain in the middle East and Australia, and military liaison officer for Beagle Bay and Rabaul.43

 

Fr. John Flynn MSC (1901-1978) was army chaplain at Beagle Bay (1942-1944) and Fr. Frank Flynn at Alice Springs and Arltunga (1942-45). Presumably Fr. Bill Flynn MSC, who had brief wartime appointments at Thursday Island (1941-1942) and Melville Island (1944-1945), was also an army chaplain. He evacuated the eight OLSH sisters and 94 women and children from Hammond Island to Cooyar in late January 1942. 44

 

Fr. Frank Flynn MSC held a part time chaplaincy with the army and a part time chaplaincy with the RAAF. 45 He visited all the MSC missions established by Gsell and remained in contact with them from 1942 to 1946. He wrote dispatches to the MSC newsletter and published his memoirs as a book in July 1947 but without mentioning his military affiliation, so that his military role runs like an encryption throughout the book.46 He seemed to be overseeing the evacuations and enlistment of Aboriginal people and mentioned that his driver had experience in the Middle East - presumably the drivers were in army uniform steering army trucks. In September 1942 Flynn ‘accompanied’ Fr. W. Henschke in a troop-carrying train from Port Augusta to Alice Springs, after inspecting the Melville Island people whom Henschke had resettled in Hawker and Carrieton (near Port Augusta). 47

 

Caruana MSC notes that Frank Flynn was 'not popular with the priests, brothers or sisters'. It was rumoured that Bishop Gsell, who did 'not relish receiving directions from provincials or other superiors' was 'jealous of [Flynn's] authority'.48 Flynn was certainly a man of surprises and secrets. He used his military affiliation to study anthropology, and in late 1948 it came to the attention of his MSC confreres that Flynn was practising ophthalmology as a visiting specialist at the Darwin hospital:

 

'Frank Flynn's medical front is more formidable than I realized. He and I were ... together in Darwin for many weeks and only in the last few weeks was I aware that he is regarded as a regular 'visiting specialist ' at the Darwin hospital. He hangs his plate up at the hospital every Monday afternoon from 3pm to 6pm or later and does necessary eye operations at suitable hours during the week.'49

 

Flynn, like five of his twelve siblings, had turned to medicine, graduating with first class honours in medicine from Sydney University in 1930, and then as senior surgeon at Moorfields opthalmic hospital in Rondor, England where he developed the first artificial tears. As a priest of the MSC since 1936 he was asked to discontinue this medical work in July 1949. He continued to serve as a RAAF chaplain for twenty years as a Wing Commander. Outside of the MSC he gained acclaim with the award of an Order of Australia in 1979 and in April 1993 the Paul Harris Medal as a prominent citizen of Australia for his pioneering contribution to Aboriginal eye health, that inspired among others 'Professor Fred Hollows who followed him in that work'.50 The Menzies School of Health Research named a scholarship after him, and according to Caruana Frank Flynn was known and widely admired internationally, invited as a visiting lecturer in many places including the US, Ireland, Rome and Budapest.51

 

Wartime evacuations and enlistment

 

Wartime evacuations under National Security Regulations, like that of the of Cape Bedford people to Woorabinda, of Hammond Island residents to Cooyar, or of Broome to Beagle Bay and the south, also affected Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory as Darwin became 'Fortress Australia' and its southern supply lines were secured.

 

In Alice Springs the children from ‘the Bungalow’ an Aboriginal children's home at the former telegraph station on the Todd River, were evacuated south, and the Little Flower Mission was evacuated to a site near Arltunga. Frank Flynn oversaw the removal from Alice Springs in February 1943 to an isolated police station at Cross Roads Well in a long-abandoned gold mining area with no reliable water. It was about equidistant with Hermannsburg from Alice Springs, but in the opposite direction. The removal was carried out ‘successfully and efficiently within two days’, presumably in army trucks. The only radio was held by the Arltunga police station, which was, however, often unmanned ‘for weeks on end’. In May 1943 they were still carting water to the temporary mission site from five miles away. Finally the authorities approved a re-location and while Fr. Eather was in town arranging the next removal, Fr. Flynn went out ‘to keep an eye on the Mission’ and hear confessions. 52 (This mission had been moved from Alice Springs to Charles Creek in 1937, to Arltunga in 1943, to Santa Teresa south-east of Alice Springs in 1953, and was later known as Ltyentye Apurte).

 

The alternative to being evacuated, or going bush, was to join up. Eighty Bathurst Island men joined 56 Port Craft Company, Royal Australian Engineers (AIF) and were stationed at the Larrakeyah barracks headquarters of the Darwin garrison.53 Twenty men from Little Flower Mission joined the armed forces before the mission was evacuated, around September 1942. They became part of the Native Labour Unit, totalling about 150 men. They were deployed in unloading trains and building roads, such as the Stuart Highway to Darwin. They were stationed at ‘the Bungalow’ and on Saturdays they were trucked into Alice Springs by military vehicles to watch movies, otherwise they were subject to a colour curfew placed on the town. For their twelve-day spell Fr. Frank Flynn took them to Arltunga to see their families.54

 

Postwar rebuilding

 

It took years to settle everything back into routine after the war. At Hammond Island the occupying soldiers had done 'considerable damage' to the MSC property'55 and the St. Francis needed such overhauls and repairs that it was not ready until September 1949.56 However in other ways the MSC fathers felt that 'we have done pretty well out of the services', who left behind 'hundreds of pounds worth of foodstuffs' and 'enough engine fuel for about three years' and a large electric plant from the RAAF base on the Tiwi islands.57

 

By August 1948 over 4,000 people had flooded back into Darwin, but 'no move has been made yet to rebuild Darwin'. The postwar reconstruction commission drew plans of Darwin that involved the resumption and redistribution of all land and property in the town. Bishop Gsell objected to this process where 'you simply have to go where you are told. You cannot pick a site, but must take what is given to you.' Fr. Henschke and Fr. Flynn thought the proposed new church location was actually preferable to the existing site, but the Bishop was not to be moved, and refused to enter into negotiations over compensation for the church property. 58 Gsell won his last big battle before John O'Loughlin became the new bishop in 1950.

 

O'Loughlin visited Vunapope where the German province of the MSH had managed to hold on to its mission despite the privations during the Japanese invasion, and were getting a reputation as 'the leading missionaries'.59 Bishop O'Loughlin extended the MSH presence over Papunya, Newcastle Waters, Birdum, Maranboy, Adelaide River, the East Arm Leprosarium (1957-1982) and finally Nauyiu at Daly River in 1955.

 

The extension of the MSC in the Northern Territory under Bishop Gsell (1938-1950) mirrored that of the Pallottines under Bishop Raible (1935-1953) with parishes at Derby, Wyndham, Hall's Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Turkey Creek, and Argyle reflecting a turn away from bounded mission towards more porous parish work. The patriotic engagement of the MSC during World War II may have sheltered Bishop Gsell from more overt surveillance. Gsell certainly escaped the treatment Fr. Bischofs in the Kimberley received during World War I, though both came from the border regions of Germany and had become Australian citizens. Fr. Bischofs, surrounded by German staff, was forced to retreat to Armidale, shadowed by military intelligence, and left Australia in 1921.60 The MSC on the other hand began early to recruit through its training college in Sydney so that Gsell was surrounded by Australian-born staff, and was administered by an Australian Province. Gsell also had the advantage of personal acquaintance with Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), from his period of study at the St. Apollinaire University in Rome (to 1896). 61 Papal interest in the northern Australian mission and support for Gsell's policy must have been beneficial for the extension of the chameleon MSC in Australia.

 

 

 

1 'Our Story' Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, http://www.misacor.org/Objects/Pagina.asp?ID=12&T=Our%20Story'

2 J. F. McMahon MSC 'The Coming of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to Australia' Paper read to the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 5 May 1982, Australian Catholic Historical Society Journal 1982:3-22.

3 See also Brian Jinks, Peter Biskup and Hank Nelson (eds) Readings in New Guinea History, Sydney: Angus and Robertson 1973:11,171.

4 Diary of Fr. Navarre, quoted in J. F. McMahon MSC 'The Coming of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to Australia' Australian Catholic Historical Society Journal 1982:7.

5 Fr. Pierre Bucas was collaborating with George Bridgemann in a secular mission at Mackay.

6 Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, Canberra PMB 664-670 and PMB 654 Navarre, Louis André, notes sur sa vie and PMB 603 Mouton, J.B.O. Personal and Business Papers. J. F. McMahon MSC 'The Coming of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to Australia' Paper read to the Australian Catholic Historical Society, 5 May 1982, Australian Catholic Historical Society Journal 1982:3-22.

 Diary of Fr. Navarre, quoted in J. F. McMahon MSC 'The Coming of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to Australia' Australian Catholic Historical Society Journal 1982.

7 G. K. Bolton Sacred Heart Mission, Our First One Hundred Years, Cairns 1984.

8 Queensland Heritage Register 'Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church ' https://heritage-register.ehp.qld.gov.au/placeDetail.html?siteId=16050, accessed 9 February 2015

9 James Griffin 'Verjus, Henri Stanislas (1860-1892)' Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/verjus-henri-stanislas-4777; and Fabila Family at Yule Island,   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yule.island.fabila.family.jpg

10 The Sacred Heart Review, Vol. 21, Nr. 9, 25 February 1899, http://newspapers.bc.edu/cgi-bin/bostonsh?a=d&d=BOSTONSH18990225-01.2.70

11 James Griffin 'Verjus, Henri Stanislas (1860-1892)' Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/verjus-henri-stanislas-4777; and Fabila Family at Yule Island, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yule.island.fabila.family.jpg

14 Among the descendant families of these Filipino/Papuan marriages are the names Natera, Babas, Castro, Malabag, Ramos, Espinosa, De la Cruz, Taligatus, Artango, Buen Suceso and Fabila. Alfredo Hernandez 'Invading Papua New Guinea, Pinoy Style' in Our Own Voice, August 2006, http://www.oovrag.com/essays/essay2006b-1.shtml, accessed February 2015.

15 A. Goodman MSC 'Son Excellence Mgr. Gsell et la mission de Port-Darwin' Annales de Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur, February 1939:57-63.

16 James Littleton MSC with Tony Caruana MSC, 'Brotherhood in Mission 1992-2006 - Deceased Australian MSC' May 2007:193.

17 Keriri had been under pastoral lease and unpopulated (after a remnant population of Kaurareg had been removed) until Fr. Doyle opened a mission there. Later the Hammond Island mission was conducted by Fr. David McCullagh (1938-1941) who transferred to New Britain and died as a prisoner of war of the Japanese when the Montevideo Maru transport was torpedoed by allied forces. Fr. Owen McDermott MSC was called 'Grandfather' by the mission residents. Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:pasism.

18 Luke Taylor et al. The Power of Knowledge, the Resonance of Tradition, Aboriginal Studies Press 1997:70ff.

19 According to Caruana the transfer took place in 1970, but according to the Catholic School website it was in 1967. Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:43.

20 Catholic School, Thursday Island (1887-) Find and Connect,  http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/qld/biogs/QE00935b.htm

21 Emo to Sept Fons 25 Nov 1900 (36pp) continued in January 1901 in Brigida Nailon CSB Emo and San Salvador, Echuca, Brigidine Sisters, 2005 (I):148-181, 91.

22 Gsell in Darwin to MSC Provincial at Kensington, 9 March 1908, MSC Archives Kensington.

Je dois vous armer mon Rev. Père, pour commencer que votre réponse concernant la mission du Daly River m'a absolument xxxx et que je ne suis pas encore revenu du coup. Vous me dites que cette fondation est decideré, mai qu'on ne peut ne donner un sou de secours, que par conséquent je doi faire des emprunts pour la fonder, que d'ailleurs il y a déjà une maison et une plantation en rapport au Daly. Je ne demande qui a pu vous donner ces renseignements qui sont a pôle opposé de la vérité. J'ai pu vous dire que les Jesuites y ont laissé l'école qui les sauvages et les fermiers blanches se disputent depuis dix ans et qui pourra nous servir d'abri provisoire en attendant de bâtir mieux. Quand à la fameux plantation nous positons un terrain de 340 acres qui n'a jamais vu de charrue depuis sa création. Les Jesuites avaient des jardin et plantaient du tabac; mais de tout cela on ne trouve même plus la trace et ce n'etait pas sur le terrain qu'ils nous ont ligné, mais sur celui qui'ils rempaient eux-mêmes et qui est retournée au gouvernement.

23 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:6-7.

24 20 September 1935 Gsell in Darwin to NT Administrator and J. A. Carrodus, Acting NT Administrator the ‘recent experience of mission stations in the territory run by the CMS does not inspire confidence in the ability of that organisation to successfully conduct aboriginal institutions.' in Port Keats Catholic Mission, Northern Territory 1934 55A452, 1955/98 NAA.

25 Apostolic Delegate Philip Bernhardini to Minister for the Interior 7 April 1934 in Port Keats Catholic Mission, Northern Territory 1934 55A452, 1955/98 NAA.

26 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:32.

27 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:8.

28 More Correspondence 'Inmates appeal for attention to Channel Is. conditions' Northern Standard, 6 February 1948:12. Retrieved February 16, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49983910

29 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:120.

30 McDermott, 9 November 1948, in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:125.

31 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:129.

32 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947:77.

33 According to Caruana (204:52) Br. Ted Bennett and Fr. Bill Connors at Melville Island 'attempted to make a repot of the [first Japanese raid] to Darwin. Unfortunately there was an NT Patrol Officer there at the time and .... as he was not allowed to use the radio except for coded messages, he did not radio through.' This incident is described in Robert Rayner Darwin and Northern Territory Force, Sydney, Southwood Press 2001:1. Douglas Lockwood erroneously refers to a John Gribble as having radioed the warning to Coonawarra naval signaling station near Darwin. Douglas Lockwood The Front Door: Darwin 1869-1969 Adelaide, Rigby 1968:254.

34 Department of Veteran Affairs, ‘Australia’s War’ http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/underattack/airraid.html

and Peter Dunn, ‘Japanese Air Raid On Bathurst Island
On 19 February 1942’, 2002. http://www.ozatwar.com/japsbomb/bomboz01.htm> , accessed February 2014.

35 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:61.

36 The National Archives' Bathurst Island mission correspondence has a gap from 1941 to 1948.

37Interview with Johnny Juler, Wadeye, July 1994, in Regina Ganter Mixed Relations UWA Press 2006.

38 James Littleton MSC, 'Brotherhood in Mission: Deceased Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Australia 1882-1991'.

39 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:126.

40 O'Loughlin, July 1949, in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:129.

41 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:57, 61.

42 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:43, 49.

43 James Littleton MSC with Tony Caruana MSC, 'Brotherhood in Mission 1992-2006 - Deceased Australian MSC' May 2007:78.

44 Luke Taylor et al. The Power of Knowledge, the Resonance of Tradition, Aboriginal Studies Press 1997:70ff.

45 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:125.

46 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947: 19, 20, 26.

47 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947: 19, 20, 26.

48 McDermott to Carter, 23 November 1948, in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:125.

49 McDermott to Breene, 13 December 1848 in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:126.

50 Citation by the Governor General, April 1993, in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:132.

51 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:129,132. James Littleton MSC with Tony Caruana MSC, 'Brotherhood in Mission 1992-2006 - Deceased Australian MSC' May 2007:34-35.

52 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947: 22, 24, 27, 28.

53 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947:77.

54 Rev. Frank Flynn MSC Distant Horizons - Mission Impressions as published in the Annals of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Kensington, Sacred Heart Monastery, 1947: 19, 20, 26.

55 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:43, 49

56 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:126.

57 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:117-118.

58 Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:116, 121.

59 McDermott on Thursday Island, 26 January 1949 in Anthony Caruana MSC 'Reflections on hundred years of MSC mission work in the Northern Territory 1904-2004' (unpublished MS) MSC Archives Kensington, 2004:126. See also Bishop Leo Scharmach's autobiographical This Crowd Beats us All (Catholic Press, 1960) about his period in Vunapope.

60 Navy to Major George Steward CMG, 7 September 1916, in Father Bischoff – German Mission Station at Beagle Bay A367 1917/50 Barcode 61882 NAA.

61 Raymond Dossmann MSC 'Du pays des cigognes ... au pays des kangourous!' Annales d'Issoudun, December 2006:28-29.