Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/263

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249
THE CHURCH IN THE COLONIES.

the most distant and outlying portions of his diocese.[1] The fact so frequently noted and commented on by literary travellers, that in almost every Victorian city and town the Roman Catholic Church occupies the premier site, is an evidence of the activity and the shrewdness with which Bishop Goold in those early days gauged the probabilities of the future, and made ample provision for the populous times to come. The golden discoveries of 1851, the consequent vast influx of people from all quarters of the globe, the bursting into existence of new centres like Ballarat, Sandhurst, Castlemaine, &c., considerably enlarged the sphere of the Bishop's activity, and found him equal to the unexpected and extraordinary emergency that had arisen. A large percentage of the diggers, he knew, was composed of Irish Catholics, and in order to minister to their spiritual necessities, he speedily planted priests on each of the permanent gold-fields, and sent to Ireland for more clergymen to keep pace with the urgent requirements of the new colony of Victoria, into which the Port Phillip district had now bloomed. Dr. Goold was in short the pioneer prelate that was demanded by the difficult circumstances of the time; and the host of

  1. A venerable Australian missionary writes: "In 1850 and part of 1851 Father Dunne had the whole of the Geelong district to attend, the nearest priests being at Warrnambool on the one side and Melbourne on the other. Archbishop Goold was then in the prime of life, and besides his episcopal duties, he did as much clerical duty as any priest in his diocese. When visiting the remote districts, he often had to be content with the accommodation of a shepherd's hut. There were no railroads in these days or even passable roads after heavy rains in winter. On one occasion when his lordship and Father Dunne were returning from Colac to Geelong, they were overtaken by a severe storm, and had to take shelter in the hut of a Tipperary man named John Ryan. There was only one bedroom, which was given up to the bishop and Father Dunne. The Bishop, of course, got the bed. Father Dunne slept on the boards, and Mr. Ryan and his family sat up all night at the fire drying the bishop's and priest's clothes."