Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/278

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of the Church was poor and scant; but, as a matter of fact, it did not exist. Children came into the world and there was no Catholic clergyman nearer than the northern hemisphere to baptise them. Old men were dying on the scaffold, or in their beds, but the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the coral seas of the north, lay between them and all the sacraments of the dying. Within sight of where we are now assembled the mystery of our faith, the most Holy Sacrament, was preserved by stealth in a poor man's house. It and its few faithful lay worshippers were the whole of God's Church in this part of the world at the beginning of the current century. At the present hour the priests in the colonies number several hundreds; the churches are among the most beautiful in Christendom; and there is scarcely a religious community in the old world which is not largely represented in our midst. Every town has its convent and Catholic schools; and an assembly of 18 Australasian prelates meets here in this capital of New South Wales. A Cardinal is Archbishop of Sydney, and presides over such meetings. Such a contrast between the beginning and the close of a century is unexampled in history. Such a blessing of fruitfulness is unparalleled since the early ages of the Apostles.