Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/247

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233
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

When he arrived in Sydney and took a survey of the situation, he realised the supreme importance of the absent document, and wisely concealed himself until it should come to hand, as he expected, in a few months' time. While he was in hiding, the leading Catholics and the liberal Protestants presented a memorial to the Governor of the day, General Macquarie, stating the circumstances of the case, and respectfully asking him to recognise the newly-arrived archpriest. True to the discreditable traditions of his office, the General's only reply to this very reasonable request was that the memorialists were guilty of a gross piece of presumption.

This answer sufficed to show what would be the fate of Father O'Flinn if his hiding-place became known to the authorities. The secret was well kept for a couple of months, during which the Catholics of Sydney, in regular batches, enjoyed the unwonted and unspeakable blessing of assisting, though by stealth, at the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Father O'Flinn also succeeded in baptising hundreds of young Catholics who had grown up in the ten years of spiritual darkness that had covered the land. Getting bolder by degrees, he ventured into the out-settlements, collected his scattered people, celebrated mass for their benefit, and gave them instructions both in the English and the Irish language. Long years afterwards, a venerable old man told Dr. Ullathorne, now Bishop of Birmingham, that Father O'Flinn "had the sweetest and the swiftest tongue of Irish that ever I heard." The same aged colonist gave an additional significant piece of information, viz.: that he "never spoke a word of English himself until it was made fifty lashes to speak a word of Irish." When, in his zeal to remedy the mischief of the past. Father O'Flinn ventured out into the open and went about doing good, he ran the risk of arrest at