SIDELIGHTS ON SEVENHILL
An Old Parishioner Remembers
THE “solid” History of the Austrian Jesuits and Sevenhill has been covered by the Diocesan, Archivist and others. We propose, under the heading of “SIDELIGHTS ON SEVENHILL,” to publish during the next few weeks informal, even haphazard, details of a more intimate and personal nature concerning the “old days” in Sevenhill parish.
In this issue, we publish the first part of a memoir written by an old parishioner born at Mintaro 81 years ago.
My own recollection of the great work of the early Austrian Jesuits, he writes, does not go back further than 1872, 20 years after the starting at Sevenhill. However, having lived forty years in their parishes of Mintaro and Farrel Flat, and board ing at the College in 1882 and 1884, brought me in close contact with all the Fathers excepting the first two, Frs. Kranewitter and Tappeiner, and the last-comer, Fr. Peifer.
MY contribution is simply a history of my own parishes and will be very little use to you, I fear. It seems such a weak and feeble effort in an attempt to describe the wonderful and holy esteem in which they were held by all their parishioners; I am hope fully looking to my confreres to supply those essentials.
Fr. Tappeiner was the first Parish Priest of Mintaro. He was responsible for the early erection, in 1854, of that little “church upon the hill,” which still stands, apparently as solid as the day it was opened. The land was presented by Mr. Peter Brady, a great friend of the Fathers. (Mr. Brady’s great-grandson, Rev. Dr. Giles, is now Secretary to the Apostolic Delegate in Sydney). The church in Mintaro was the first in Australia, probably the first in the world, to be dedicated to the “Immaculate Conception.” My parents married and settled in the Mintaro district in 1864. Fr. Tappeiner was still their Parish Priest. I was baptised by him; but before memory begun he left for Norwood, to the then newly established mission. He remained there till his death in 1882. His body was brought to Sevenhill. It was the largest funeral up to that time.
In the Mintaro parish he was loved intensely. Some of my earliest recollections, hearing parents, friends and parishioners mentioning the name of Fr. Tappeiner with a kind of sacred reverence. I learnt afterwards that the same love and affection for his name existed throughout the parish, and that his removal to Norwood had been looked upon as a calamity. Even Protestants had the greatest esteem, and he was publicly farewelled in the district hall.
It was during Fr. Tappeiner’s term in Mintaro that the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in South Australia. Two of the first to join Mother Mary McKillop were Bridget and Annie Howley (Sister Calasanctius and Sister Andrea). They left Mintaro in 1868, and were followed shortly by Rose Dowd (Sister Acquin). All three were parishioners of Fr. Tappeiner. Sister Andrea died in the year 1932, but the others are still doing good work.
It would have been in the late sixties when Fr. Tappeiner left Mintaro. He was succeeded by Frs. Strele and Krusel, and each in his turn was equally revered as was Fr. Tappeiner.
At that period Mintaro and district contained a strong Irish element fresh
from the “old land,” which is ever noted for the wonderful love of the Soggarth Aroon, but even in that country it would have been impossible to equal the bonds of affection which existed between the Irish settlers and the Austrian Jesuits.
Fr. Hayes followed, and with him, in 1872, begin my personal remembrances of those saintly men. Fr. Nieban was there in 1873. He used ride on horseback, as all the others had done, from Sevenhill to Mintaro for Sunday Mass. Benediction in the evening and a Monday morning Mass for the Sisters who had recently been established in Mintaro. Fr. Nieban was transferred to Georgetown.
Fr. Reschaeur then took charge of Mintaro parish. Masses were said as usual on Sunday and Monday mornings, but as the Sisters had opened another school at Mintaro Railway, a school erected by Fr. Strele and Bro. Eberhard, four or five miles away, Mass was sometimes celebrated there also. It was necessary, therefore, for the Priest to stay a night or two at Mintaro vestry or at Mr. Peter Brady’s house, where there was always a hearty welcome. When Fr. Reschaeur took charge, he built, with his own hands, a little room attached to the vestry. He also put on the roof. The room still stands as a monument to his industry and skill. He also erected a gallery for the choir. He left Mintaro about 1875 for a northern mission.
Fr. Herbery succeeded and made a long stay. He was loved by all, especially the children, who watched for his coming over the hill. Some of them would run off to meet him, “bail him up” until he disbursed apples or other fruit which he usually carried in front of him on his horse, During his term at Mintaro, a rumor of his returning to Europe caused consternation. He announced on the Sunday that it was so. I look back on that event as one of the saddest incidents of my childhood. I still have a picture given as a farewell memento, when he came to say good-bye. The parish was grief-stricken. What happened I know not. The transfer was cancelled and
Fr. Herbert remained in Mintaro for many years afterwards. He was a hard worker in every way. Finding a stable necessary for his horse, he helped to quarry the hard stone which was required. In the early eighties he left Sevenhill for another mission.
Fr. Karlinger, patient, kind and of a most lovable disposition, came next. He had been some years in Georgetown previous to this. During his time at Mintaro, the adjoining parish of Farrell Flat, which was previously attended from Burra, was attached to Mintaro. Mass was held every Sunday in Mintaro and once a fortnight in Farrell Flat.