What a remarkable array of characters we meet within the pages of this book. Fr Ted Cooper brings alive the early days of Roman Catholicism in Australia by telling the stories of its pioneer priests. From those who arrived at the outset as convicted felons, to the first official appointments, through a wonderful assortment of diverse personalities, we meet at first hand a group of priests, seventeen in all, who fostered the initial development of the Catholic faith here in Australia.
That the Irish Church contributed very significantly to the Australian story is evident throughout, and especially in the 1838 intake of thirteen priests and five students for the priesthood. We see too, the hardships experienced by these men – the tough climate, vast distances, the lack of buildings and supplies, and the dwellings they lived in, which often amounted simply to a ‘slab cottage with a bark roof’.
The author does not shrink from the horrors, describing how, for example, Fr McEncroe attended seventy-five hangings in his first three years in the colony. This is a story of hardship and struggle, but ultimately of triumph. Fr Cooper has written this book as a tribute to those who went before, those who struggled against all sorts of obstacles, but who made an outstanding contribution to Australian Catholic history.
Source: St Pauls Publications