Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/118

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

podean town of yesterday. Still, it speaks well for the faith and enthusiasm of the first Catholics of Geelong, that they planned and set about building so noble a fane, at a time when most of their fellow-citizens were thinking of little else but the making of rapid fortunes for themselves, when the place was in a state of continual feverish excitement through the presence and extravagance of thousands of returned lucky diggers, when, to quote a contemporary narrative, "men clad in blue shirts and fustian trousers were hourly bringing into Geelong gold dust and nuggets wrapped up in rags, old stockings, pieces of handkerchiefs, and such like, to the amount of thousands." In after years the original design of the church was considerably modified to suit the altered circumstances, and a portion of the nave was completed, sufficiently large to answer the requirements of the reduced population. Even in this incomplete condition, the building is the most conspicuous, commodious and elegant ecclesiastical edifice in the town. Its façade contains a beautiful circular stained glass window in memory of a popular pastor of the place for many years, the Very Rev. Dean Hayes, who was on a visit to his native Ireland when he died, after having just been designated as the first Bishop of Armidale in New South Wales. His successor in Geelong was the Venerable Archdeacon Downing, who has already been mentioned as one of the pioneer priests of the goldfields, and who endeared himself to all classes of the community by his abounding liberality and his practical philanthropy. With him was associated a highly-accomplished Irish priest—the Rev. B. H. Power—one of the most accomplished preachers the Victorian church has possessed, a musician and composer of acknowledged attainments, and in his younger days a skilful editor of the Sydney Freeman's Journal. A