Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/248

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

any moment; and it was not long before the priest-hunters laid their impious hands on this inoffensive clergyman and lodged him in the common gaol. There he was kept a close prisoner until a ship was about to sail for England, when he was escorted on board and sent back across the seas by the arbitrary act of a despotic governor. Thus, once again were the hopes of the Australian Catholics dashed to the ground, but they had one great consolation in their distress. Father O'Flinn had left the Blessed Sacrament in the house of one of their number, Mr. James Dempsey, of Kent street, Sydney;[1] and there, in the Divine presence, the bereaved flock reverentially met on Sundays and holidays, practised the simple devotions of their Church, and kept the lamp of faith steadily burning. Worthy descendants these of the steadfast men and women of an earlier generation, who, throughout the long dark night of the penal code, worshipped and prayed in the caves and on the hillsides of Holy Ireland! As Dr. Ullathorne has sympathetically said: "It was remarkably beautiful to contemplate these men of sorrow round the Bread of Life, bowed down before the Crucified; no voice but the silent one of faith; not a priest within ten thousand miles to offer them that pledge of pardon to repentance, whose near presence they see and feel."[2]

  1. Traditions differ on this point. Some accounts state that the house in which the Blessed Sacrament was preserved was occupied by Mr. William Davis, and that it stood in close proximity to the present site of St. Patrick's Church, Sydney.
  2. "Father O'Flinn was the first clergyman who came to the colony expressly with the view of ministering to the spiritual wants of the Roman Catholic part of the population. He occupied in his church the position of archpriest, an office which enabled him to perform some of those higher functions which ordinarily belong to a bishop. This, among other circumstances, made it clear that his coming was directly influenced by the great and pressing wants of that large section of the population, both free and bond, who professed his faith.