9 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

43. Roman Catholic

43. Roman Catholic Church of the Reparation after 1910. Father Chervier also established a school at New Headford. 20 This was the only church school in the huge parish and although it was realised that more were needed, their establishment was constrained by the lack of resources. The school was therefore important to the Roman Catholic community and boarders came from as far afield as Waimate and Rangiora. At first lessons were held in the presbytery which was large enough to accommodate the boarders, but when the new church was built the first building became the school. It flourished for a number of years, but eventually was unable to compete with the better funded secular schools which for many families offered an education closer to home. The school struggled on into the twentieth century; there were 70 pupils attending during the 1870’s, in 1895 there were 25 pupils of which one was a Protestant 21 said to be of irregular attendance, and by 1902 the roll had fallen to 18 children, three of whom were Protestants. By 1905 the school closed. Teacher vacancies were advertised in The Tablet, and doubtless elsewhere, and it is noted that there seemed to exist a network which helped steer suitable people to vacant positions. Thus Kate McLachlan, teaching in Mosgiel, was informed by Fr. Ryan of Dunedin, that his uncle Fr. Foley of Lincoln, was anxious to appoint a teacher to the Lincoln school. Kate applied, and received the 114

following from Fr. Foley dated April 22 1898:My dear Miss McLachlan, I have much pleasure to inform you that at a meeting of the school committee last night it was decided that I invite you to come and take up your duty of teacher on Monday May 2 nd . I shall be pleased to hear from if you can be there by that date. Kate came, began teaching, and evidently fitted into her new environment for she married Jack, one of Patrick Henley’s sons and lived in the Lincoln district for the rest of her life. Father Chervier moved to Leeston, but continued to serve the Church of the Reparation until Father James Foley was appointed priest in 1892. Although by now the parish was much smaller and easier to manage it was clear that decisions had to be made regarding parish headquarters, especially because the presbytery was now in a dilapidated state. Accordingly Bishop Grimes of the recently formed diocese of Christchurch, instructed Fr Foley to buy four acres of land on the outskirts of Lincoln, for which he paid 240 pounds. This was a more central site and close to the railway, but Father Foley was asked to keep news of the purchase to himself for there was no need to let Mr. Henley, a generous contributor to the Church, know that the parish base would eventually move to Lincoln! This was to happen in the early days of the 20th century and is beyond the scope of this account, but it is noted that in 1899 Fr. Foley was asked to conduct a mission in the Chatham Islands and that he did not return to Lincoln at its conclusion. Father Robert Richards was appointed parish priest in 1900 as its first secular priest and the parish ended its long association with the Society of Mary. Much to the chagrin of Patrick Henley, Father Richards built a presbytery at Lincoln in 1908, and this became home for parish priests until in 1998 it was replaced on the same site. The small and scattered population living in the district in the early days relied on each other for support and so there appears to have been little, if any, of the sectarian strife which they knew from their homeland. However, some did hold strong opinions such as that expressed when the new church was reported to be debt free in a very short period of time. According to this report 22 the district was a hotbed of Wesleyanism before the arrival of Father Chervier, but this was not now the case for the small building which existed twelve years ago for Wesleyans is, as it was not then, sufficiently commodious for its ‘habitues’, whilst the Catholics have reared up churches and schools within the district. This is an extraordinary statement, for by then Springston was the headquarters of a flourishing Methodist Circuit with churches at Springston, Broadfield, 115

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