This meeting was held on Friday, 5th inst., in the Catholic Church at Mintaro. The meeting was well attended, and many of the gentlemen present had come a considerable distance.
The Rev. J. TAPPEINER presided. He said it was some time since he addressed them from that altar, and if he ever spoke to them from his heart on a subject that was dear to him it was this evening, in meeting them on the foot and in defence of this very altar. They had built a beautiful little church, an ornament to the district; did they wish to see that building and that splendid altar deserted or demolished after 15 or 20 years had passed, or at least visited only by nominal Christians who called themselves their children? Such would be the case if the present fusion system in schools were to be continued. Put boys and girls together of all possible contradictory creeds, put an infidel or bigotted (sic) master, as the case may be, at their head, make them read any chapter of the Bible daily, but don’t tell them what it means, and don’t even tell them that there is a God in heaven, or that there was a Redeemer of man on earth (for that might be a specific creed), let them find out everything for themselves from the chapter of the Bible they have read; and you will see them coming out of that school as model Christians, and worthy members of the South Australian State religion. This might suit the taste of some, but with them (the Catholics) it was not so. He knew many sincere Protestants preferred so teaching their children in their own schools, and he did not blame them for that. Why, then, raise such a cry against the Catholics, if they asked nothing but what they willingly acceded to all? Let the Register discover ever so many flat contradictions in that; as long as he did not descend from the height of his infallible pulpit, and make his extraordinary logic a little more intelligible to common reason, they must beg leave to lay his dogmas by among the things unknown as yet.
The Rev. J. E. PATTHUBER moved the first resolution:—
“That this meeting is convinced that the mixed education system, as it is working in this colony, is highly injurious to the faith of their children, and that the denominational system seems to be the only one which might do justice to all parts of the community.” He went on to say that, as he had often reminded them how the Church utterly disapproved the mixed system, as injurious to their religion. He felt pleased that an opportunity was afforded to the laity to express their sentiments. In regard to the first part of the resolution, he was happy to see that His Lordship had explained it in a most able manner. As to the second, he would remark that, as this was not the only country where different denominations live close together, the question would be quite natural—How do others deal with the difficulty? First—Catholic Austria grants to her Protestant subjects a separate Protestant board of education, Protestant colleges and schools where their number justified the expense; the same did Catholic France. Then, Protestant Prussia and most of the United States did the same as respects Catholics, and there was no dissatisfaction or quarrelling there. Finally, in New South Wales and Victoria the same fairness was shown. What Austria, what France, what Prussia, and nearly all the governments that are in a similar position, including our neighboring colonies, consider as a matter of justice to be done to their dissentient brethren, will our enlightened and liberal Parliament refuse, especially when the number of Catholic children, on account of mixed marriages and other reasons, if a proper census were obtained, would amount nearer to one-fourth than to one-eighth of the whole of the youth of the colony that want instruction.
Mr. JOHN BRADY seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously.
Mr. PETER BRADY then rose to propose the second resolution. He said, the resolution he had to propose was nothing but the necessary conseque[n]ce of the first, wh[i]ch being carried so enthusiastically required no recommendation of his. He had great pleasure in proposing the second resolution:—
“That it is high time to make our grievances known to the Legislature and the community at large, and to use all lawful means to obtain an equitable settlement of the question.”
Mr. MICHAEL LYNCH seconded.
Carried unanimously.
Mr. GEORGE FAULKNER said he wished to make a few remarks if he was not out of order, not being a member of the Catholic Church himself. The CHAIRMAN said that this was a meeting of Catholics only, but as Mr. Faulkner had a Catholic family, he thought the meeting would have no objection to hear his opinion on behalf of his wife and children. (Several voices, “Not the least.”)
Mr. FAULKNER then said he had read the pastoral letter with great interest, and gathered from it that there were upwards of 16,000 Catholics in the colony; the number of their children wanting education must be from 3,000 to 4,000. He could see nothing but what was fair and right when they asked for a reasonable share of the public money to educate these children. (Hear, hear.) He would certainly object against any measure compelling a man to give his children an education he did not approve of, and tell him “You must either send your boy to our school, or we keep your share of money from you.” With regard to mixed schools, he thought the child must be taught either one thing or the other, else it will be nothing at all. He had made up his mind to bring up his children Catholics, and would for that reason prefer a school where they would be thoroughly instructed in their religion, and hear nothing else. (Applause.)
Mr. ARTHUR BRADY rose to propose the third resolution, to the effect that they were deeply indebted to their worthy Bishop for his solid and feeling exposition of their ease, and that they enthusiastically approved of all the sentiments expressed in his pastoral letter. He trusted the resolution would meet with their unanimous concurrence. To understand how much they were indebted to their zealous Bishop, they must consider the necessity and difficulty of his great undertaking; the effects thereof would be incalculable. The origin of the national or mixed schools in Ireland came within the sphere of his own recollection; and he would offer a few remarks on their working. When the scheme of free or cheap education was first mooted by the British Parliament, it was at once doubted; it was, nevertheless, well tested in Ireland, its fearful results well proved, and Catholic children educated in these schools were remarkable for laxity of manners, levity in matters of religion, dissipation, and immorality. The consequence was that in Ireland the Catholics conscientieusly (sic) withdrew their children from those schools, and they were defunct now. But he would leave ill-fated Ireland to its fate. Australia was the land of their adoption, and as the education quesstion (sic) was the all-absorbing topic, he would ask all sensible and just Englishmen, Scotchmen, and all but prejudiced men, if the claim of the Catholics was not a just one—viz., a fair proportion of the sum voted for education? Did they not pay their equivalent to the revenue? Were they not equally loyal to their Sovereign, and prepared in the event of an invasion to fight with other denominations, and to defend their homes?—(cheers)—Yes ! He would ask any sensible men why they should not be allowed to bring up their children in their own way of thinking, under penalty of losing their common claim to the education fund. They were told to point out the evils of teaching in the mixed schools; they had done so—but that was not all the absence of good was another, perhaps not lesse[r] source of complaint. The Protestant teacher would not or could not instil into the youthful mind of the Catholic child the dictates of its religion. No; they could not expect figs from thistles. If the management of his own school were left to everyone, and the aid distributed equally to all, this bickering would cease. This they would ask the gentlemen whom they returned to Parliament to consider, and they would not cease to insist on it until they obtained their rights and privileges as citizens and free men men (sic) of a free country. He hoped that by perseverance and unanimity they would obtain their end, and if they did, it was under Providence all the work and merit of their good Bishop, and they must be ever thankful to him.
Mr. WILLIAM DUNN seconded.
Carried unanimously.
Mr. THOMAS EVANS proposed—”That steps should be taken at once to establish a Catholic school at Mintaro, or in its vicinity, and if the Government would not allow them a reasonable share of their own money, contributed to the revenue, they should do it, relying on the justice of their cause, and the assistance of the just God.”
He thought the resolution wanted an explanation; they must send the children to school, and it was quite clear that they could not send them to the mixed schools, under the present form, so they must try to establish a school to which they could in conscience send their children.
Seconded by Mr. DOLLARD.
Carried unanimously.
Mr. JOHN DEMPSEY proposed—”That if the education question cannot be brought to a satisfactory solution, they would rather see the Government aid abolished, than to have it as at present.”
Mr. PELKINGTON seconded.
Carried unanimously.
Mr. LYNCH remarked that he did not think it right to give up the money so easily and let others have it.
The CHAIRMAN explained to him that he, Mr. Lynch, had misunderstood the resolution. The sense was not that they would willingly give up the money, but they would try to get their portion, and if they did not succeed they would take care that nobody else should have it.
Mr. LYNCH was quite satisfied with that.
A vote of thanks was again proposed to his Lordship, and enthusiastically carried.
The CHAIRMAN, in answer to a vote of thanks to himself, addressed the meeting again, and this closed the proceedings.