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Catholic Origins of Clare

Updated: Feb 27

As published in the Southern Cross, 1936

South Australia in the nineteenth century was a strongly Protestant society. The great majority of South Australian Catholics were of Irish descent. Catholics comprised only 10-15 per cent of the colony’s population.

The Catholics in South Australia in the earliest days were few in number and poor. They had not, however, been quite neglected.

Father William Benson was the first minister who came to live in Adelaide to care for the Catholics there in February, 1841.

History of the Catholic Church in S.A.
Dr. Francis Murphy, first Bishop of Adelaide

On the 6th November, 1844, Dr. Francis Murphy, first Bishop of Adelaide, arrived in South Australia from Sydney, where he had been consecrated bishop by Dr. Polding, first Bishop of Australia (or New Holland, as it was then called).

He brought with him, as his sole assistant priest—for Father Mahony returned to New South Wales shortly after the arrival in Adelaide of Dr. Murphy—Father Michael Ryan, lent for a year by Dr. Polding, but afterwards transferred to the Adelaide diocese.

Dr. Murphy himself ministered to the spiritual needs or the Catholics in the city of Adelaide and neighbouring parts, while to Father Michael Ryan was assigned the care of the country districts.


Clare, Centre of Civilisation in North S.A.

The first missionary expedition of Father Ryan, at the end of 1844, was to Armagh, in the Clare district. At that time, and for many years to come, Clare, though still a small place, was the centre of civilisation for the whole north.

North of Clare stretched a large tract of indefinite extent, the "Northern Areas," containing some large sheep runs taken up by sturdy pioneers, such names as Hughes, White, Tennant, Horrocks, Price, being already well known as those of land holders in the areas.

The chief citizen of Clare in those days, Edward Burton Gleeson, was an Irishman. Born at Inchiquin, County Clare, Ireland, he had come to South Australia in 1838, and so was one of the earliest settlers.

Shortly after his arrival he took up a property of about 500 acres in the County of Stanley, at a place called by the natives "Kyneetchya."

Edward Burton Gleeson, first Mayor of Clare

He built a homestead there, and first called his place by the native name, but

afterwards changed it to Inchiquin, after his place of origin.

Gleeson was responsible for the choice of Clare as the name of the village that grew up near Inchiquin homestead, as also of Armagh and Donnybrook, also Irish names, for those of smaller centres near Clare, a little west and south respectively of Clare itself.

Inchiquin, Clare, became the home of the Hill Family.

Though Gleeson was not himself a Catholic he employed Catholics; and independent Catholic settlers were to be found in the districts of Clare, Armagh, and Donnybrook.

On his visit at the end of 1844, and in subsequent visits, Fr. Michael Ryan stayed at the house of Patrick Butler, a Catholic settler at Armagh, saying Mass there, visiting the Catholics and giving them the Sacraments.

The old Miners' Arms Hotel, the home of Patrick Butler in Armagh

On the 18th January, 1847, during the absence of Dr. Murphy in Europe, Father Ryan, as we learn from a document in his own handwriting, laid the foundation stone at Clare of a Catholic Church dedicated to St. Patrick.

The first 'Gothic' (left, with pointed windows) and second St Michael's of Clare (with rounded Roman windows)

"The Church was to be built in the Gothic style, and was intended to accommodate two hundred persons."

He did not place the name of the patron saint, or any other inscription, on the stone, however, and finally, as we shall see, St. Michael the Archangel, not St. Patrick, was chosen as patron of the church.

Dr. Murphy returned from Europe on July 28, 1847, bringing with him for his diocese Father Michael O'Brien and Dennis McQuinn.

Mr. McQuinn had nearly completed his studies for the priesthood, and shortly after his arrival in South Australia he was ordained a priest by Dr. Murphy, the first priest to be ordained in the colony.

He was then sent to Clare to take charge of the Irish Catholics of the district, as resident priest.

Church Dedicated by Dr. Murphy

The New St. Michael's Church Clare built in Romanesque style, 1883.

Father McQuinn set about completing the church of which the foundation stone had been laid some months before.

First Gothic St. Michael's church

By the 28th July, 1849, the (old) church was sufficiently built, though not according to the ambitious design of Father Michael Ryan, to be dedicated by Dr. Murphy, who chose as patron of the church St. Michael the Archangel.

The (old) building still stands, serving as a school, though for many years now it has been replaced as parish church by a fine building, in Romanesque, not Gothic style, built a quarter of a century later.

It is interesting to note that one of the trustees of the property was an Irishman, Mortimer Nolan, described as a publican, and licensee of the Commercial Hotel at Clare.

Mortimer Nolan also owned property in the district, including some land at Donnybrook. It is plain that by the middle of 1849 quite definitely the foundations had been laid of a Clare parish.

But meanwhile, in 1848, events had occurred in Europe which were to have some importance in the Church history of the Clare district, as a result of which the parish came to be called the Sevenhill parish, though it still included Clare, and Clare remained, and still remains, the chief centre of population.

1848, "Year of Revolutions"

In 1848 revolutions broke out all over the Continent of Europe; revolutions organised by the Continental "Liberals," who had been to a great extent held in check by the Continental "Conservatives" from 1815 onwards.

Austria was the chief stronghold of conservatism, under the guidance of Prince Metternich, chief minister of Francis I. and Ferdinand I. of Austria.

Ferdinand I. of Austria

Ferdinand I, (19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875) was Emperor of Austria from March 1835 until his abdication in December 1848.

By May, 1848, Ferdinand I of Austria, though he himself favoured the Jesuits, had been compelled to sign a decree banishing the Jesuits from Austria.

In northern Germany. in 1848 some relief was given to the Lutherans who did not wish state control of their church, but the Catholics received no relief.

Hence the non-conforming Lutherans had emigrated to the new countries before 1848; a notable instance, well known to us all, being the emigration of German Lutherans with Pastor Kavel to South Australia in 1838.

Catholic Germans also looked over the seas in 1848 for a new home, where they might practise their religion undisturbed. Among such was Franz Weikert, who was comfortably off, and had a farm in Silesia, in the Breslau district.

Franz Weikert and His Plan.

A Hamburg shipping firm, Godefroh and Co., were offering cheap passages to South Australia, a newly developing colony of the British Empire, which they described as a land flowing with milk and honey, with a fine climate.

Franz Weikert had a plan of going to South Australia with a band of about 150 Catholic Germans to form a little German Catholic settlement there. He was about 50 years old, but still in his prime, and the father of eight children, the youngest (the late Mrs. Lummer, of Unley) just two years old in 1848.

He was ready to sell his farm, and spend about £1,000 to pay the passage money of those of the party who could not otherwise face the project, on condition that the passage money should either be repaid on landing in South Australia, or, in lieu of that, those who were still in his debt should work for him till such time that they had in this way equivalently paid the debt.

The Hamburg shipping company undertook to find German Catholics willing to join in this enterprise to swell the travelling company to the desired number, while Weikert himself collected as many as he could.

An essential part of his plan, without which he would not undertake it, was to secure a Catholic chaplain willing to go to South Australia with the company, and stay there with them at the settlement to attend to their spiritual needs.

We Jesuits are expected to do anything or go anywhere to teach Jesus Christ and preach his Good News.

He applied for such a chaplain to the Archbishop of Munich, who referred him to the St. Ludwig Missions Verein, a Catholic society for promoting missions among Germans in the far-off lands, established some years before, with headquarters in Munich.

The Austrian Jesuits, expelled from their own country, were looking for work for souls elsewhere. Hence the Director of the Ludwigs-Verein applied to the Provincial (Superior of a Province or local administrative group of Jesuits) of the Austrian Jesuits, for such a chaplain.

The Austrian Jesuits were ready to fall in with this plan, but on condition that two of their number should go, for mutual help and companionship.

Painting of (similar) Continental ship Alfred by W. Nowland Van Powell

So, finally, Father Maximilian Klinkowstroem and Father Aloysius Kranewitter were chosen to go with Franz Weikert to South Australia. The travelling company, 130 in number, left Hamburg on the 15th August, 1848, in the three-masted ship "Alfred," of 600 tons.

They arrived at Adelaide on the 8th December, 1848, after a long journey, down the African coast to the equator, then across to Rio Janeiro in Brazil, then to the Cape, and so to Australia, following the winds, as was necessary in the sailing days.

The English Alfred was built in 1818. Between 1827 and 1828 she made a voyage to China for the British East India Company (EIC) as an "extra ship", i.e., under charter.
In 1845 she was condemned but new owners restored her and named her Deutschland. She was last listed in 1857.

Father Kranewtter tells us that a month out from Hamburg he found that a cabin companion of his—there were only seven cabin passengers on the ship, with a full complement of 180 —was nothing more than what he describes as a " Christian heathen."

He also tells us that he and Father Klinkowstroem preached every Sunday when it was fine to the whole ship's company, composed of " Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Christian heathens."

A sea voyage is a severe test event of tried friendship, and we know that many of the company were complete strangers to one another until they set , foot on the "Alfred."

Hence one is not surprised at dissensions arising on the voyage.

As a result of these dissensions, and perhaps owing to the concurrence of other factors, when the "Alfred*' reached Adelaide, an December 8, 1848, the whole company scattered, leaving Weikert in the lurch.

The Jesuits and Franz Weikert arrived in Adelaide without any previous warning of their coming. This was inevitable, for the plan had been arranged within two months, it was before the days of the submarine cable service, and the sailing boats to Australia were few and far between.

Dr Francis Murphy, Bishop of Adelaide

Most of them, however, before leaving Adelaide, re-signed the contracts of indebtedness, when it was learnt that such contracts were invalid in South Australia unless signed in the colony.

In the event, Weikert got practically none of his money back.

So then Franz Weikert arrived in Adelaide, not knowing English, and with little money, with two Jesuit chaplains brought from Europe to take part in a promising project which had fallen through.

Dr. Murphy, Bishop of Adelaide, was, however, exceedingly kind to Weikert and the two Jesuits, and it was providential that they found at the Bishop's house a fellow countryman of theirs, Dr. Backhaus, a native of Westphalia, at that time working in Adelaide.

Father Kranewitter at Clare.

Still, the Jesuits were well supplied with documents of recommendation, and in his charity the Bishop assisted them. It was arranged that Father Max Klinkowstroem should stay in Adelaide, where there was work for him among the German Catholics of the city, while Father Kranewitter should go with the Weikert family to the Clare district.

There was an empty house there, new and clean, on a section adjoining the property of Mortimer Nolan, to whom we have already referred.

Father Aloysius Kranewitter S.J.

As soon as he was able Father Kranewitter was to make missionary excursions south of the Clare district, to visit the Catholic Germans, as far south as Tanunda and Lyndoch Valley.

A large number of Father Kranewitter's German friends of the "Alfred," mainly from Silesia and Saxony, had gone to Tanunda on the collapse of the original plan, as at Tanunda they would be in the midst of fellow Germans already settled there in numbers.

The Germans at Tanunda were nearly all Lutherans in religion; the Catholics could see how they got on there, and decide either to settle there definitely and build a church for themselves, or, perhaps, change to some other place Father Kranewitter might find, where, after all, something like Franz Weikert's original plan might be carried out.

Meanwhile, when not on missionary expeditions to the Catholic Germans, as he was already conversant with English, he could assist Father McQuinn, already residing at Clare, and working among the Irish Catholics of that district.

Hence it came about that on the 14th December, 1848, Father Kranewitter left Adelaide for Clare with the Weikerts. At Clare they were able to make final arrangements to settle in the house already suggested to them by Dr. Murphy, and on the 20th December they went there from Clare in a bullock wagon, the common mode of transport in those days.

Clare Valley. (Sevenhill complex). Ruins of Franz Weikert house and dairy. Built in 1865 and added to in 1870. Franz Weikert died here in 1875.

The house was of five rooms and newly built of split logs and clay, with a thatch roof of dried grass, "belonging to an Irishman," about two miles south of Clare in from the road a mile or so.

If one turns up the side road to the left of the bitumen road to Clare at the comer of what is now Christisson Park, one first passes a house on the left, in which at present Mr. Otto Knappstein lives.

A little further on to the right of the road, on the slope of a hill from which one can overlook the vineyards of the Stanley Winery, is another house.

At the back of this building are still some remnants of what was known for years as "Weikert's House."

Father Kranewitter tells us that it belonged to an Irishman. This can only mean that it was held on lease by an Irishman; for a consultation of the documents to be found in the Lands Titles Office in Adelaide shows that it and the section 69 on which it stands, was the property of one Henry Rigge, of Bond Street, London.

The name of the lessee at the time cannot be discovered, as neither this lease nor a seven years' lease of the same taken out by Weikert at this date has been registered.

Welcome to Weikert Cottage, Sevenhill

Here, at any rate, Father Kranewitter settled with the Weikert family on the 20th December, 1848, and a seven years' lease was arranged by the 2nd February, 1849.

A short time after his arrival there he had a letter from his religious superior in Europe, enclosing some money and telling him to expect soon to have two helpers, Jesuit lay brothers, from Europe.

He made an arrangement with Weikert that for two years they should pool the small resources they had till further arrangements should be made.

Meanwhile, in expectation of the brothers, he had to look out for another house, as it would be quite impossible for Weikert's family and three Jesuits to fit in the five-roomed house; This he found about a mile north from "Weikert's House," in the valley overlooked by Weikert's house, which Father Kranewitter describes as "a nice little valley" ("in einem niedlichen Thalchen"), the valley in which at present are the vineyards of the Knappstein family, who now own all this place.

The piece of land on which stood the house chosen by Fr. Kranewitter is described in a document in the Lands Titles Office as "the southern portion of Balanaca" (probably a native name), and is the southern portion of section 71 of the Hutt River survey.

On the left as one faces north is Eagle Rock, commanding an unfailing source of spring water, which for some years has been impounded to supply water for the Clare railway;

on the right rises a hill, over which passes a road, closed now for some years, which, if followed, will bring one out to Donnybrook on the other side or the hill.

At this place is still to be found what is called "The Farm" in the middle of the Knappstein vineyards.

First Jesuit House.

There are remains still to be seen of the house, and many fruit trees, including a very old mulberry tree, still bearing, which must be about 100 years old. The plot in which the house stood is still fenced off from the vineyards, and so one may easily visualise many of the external conditions of the house in which Father Kranewitter and the brothers lived for two years.

This property was then owned by Mortimer Nolan* and a seven years' lease was taken of it and the house from April, 1840, as is shown by a document at the Titles Office, signed jointly by Francis Weikert and Louis Kranewitter. This second house was quite new, of two rooms, built like the other of logs and clay, with window openings, but no glass; such houses were common enough in those days.


*_Mortimer Nolan was an early and successful Clare property owner by 1843; he rented to the Jesuits and the police. Probably married in Ireland, but with Susan Scarfe (1819-1886) had six children.

He had a hotel licence until June 1852; he may have had some building experience given his tendering for the 1850 Clare school building.

In 1847 he was a trustee for the Clare Catholic church and in 1849 he sponsored five Irish immigrants from Meath (including Arthur Brady, an employee and protégé of Bishop Murphy), having outlaid £80.1.0 for land. However insolvency records of September 1851 revealed his debts outweighed his recoverable assets; he was jailed for 12 months.


In April, 1849, the two Jesuit lay brothers arrived—John Schreiner and George Sadler. They at once set about building a large shed or room adjoining the two-roomed house; this served as their quarters, and also as a chapel for Mass on week days.

Here the three Jesuits had sufficient room; indeed, they were able to take in a "boarder," Dr. Anton Sokolowsky, who had come to Australia as ship's surgeon in the "Alfred" with the Weikert Travelling Company, and asked to be allowed to live with Fr. Kranewitter in "Nolan's House." He afterwards married one of Franz Weikert's daughters, who, after his death, married again, to become Mrs. Mayer, well-known for many years in the Clare district.

The condition of the Weikert family was one of considerable difficulty owing to the pecuniary losses to which we have already referred. Father Kranewitter found it impossible for some months after his arrival at "Weikert's House," near Clare, to visit the German Catholics, which was his main work, according to the arrangement of Dr. Murphy, Bishop of Adelaide.

The arrival of the Jesuit brothers, strong and willing workers, improved conditions, financially, to a degree. They could help with the Weikert boys in the tillage of the land, of which the Weikert-Kranewitter combination now owned two pieces, one cow came then more, and so on.

Since there was butter to be sold, Brother John Schreiner took it on foot to the Burra, travelling by night, lest the butter should melt, carrying the butter in a keg on his head.

Then they got a cart, and Brother John got a job from the Burra, after bringing his wares there for sale, of carrying ores from the Burra to the sea coast at Port Wakefield. In this way and other ways the financial strain was eased, and so by August, 1849, Father Kranewitter was at last in a position to make his first missionary excursion to the Tanunda district to see his German Catholic friends.

On his first visit to German friends in the Tanunda district, in August, 1849, Father Kranewitter found them rather dissatisfied with their condition. They had found on their arrival that most of the good land was already occupied, what remained was poor and at a high rent.

Proposals for a Settlement.

in December, 1850, that the final decision was reached about the projected settlement in the Clare district.

In late December, 1850, the land, already bought by Thomas Burr, was re-surveyed for leasehold allotments by the Surveyor-General at the time, while Father Kranewitter accompanied him indicating the limits he wished for the settlement. By April, 1851, Father Kranewitter tells us the lots were to be available for lease, and could be taken; up by the German Catholics of Tanunda, or elsewhere, if they wished.

The block in question was part of "section No. 91, in the Hundred of Clare and County of Stanley (Hutt River survey), laid, out as what was in a few years to be known as the Township of Sevenhill," as we learn from the document already referred to, and supplied by Mr. Heuzenroder.

While in this way Father Kranewitter was laying the foundations of what was soon to be called "Sevenhill Township," he made another acquisition which was to have a bearing of some importance on the history of the Clare district and of the "Northern Areas" of South Australia.

In 1850-1851 there was a deal of enthusiasm as to the future of South Australia.

Father Kranewitter was delighted with the climate, and pleased with the results of the tillage of the soil—wheat was then the thing in the Clare district—and the prices secured. It was hoped that developments such as had occurred in America would encourage large numbers of German Catholics to emigrate from the home lands and form solid settlements in South Australia.

The evangelisation of the blacks, too, was constantly before his mind, and the education of Catholic youth, in addition to the ordinary mission work among the Catholics of South Australia. The Austrian Provincial of the Jesuits was ready to send helpers as soon as possible.

Sevenhill Township

Father Kranewitter prudently considered that it would be necessary to find some place, as close as possible to the new settlement, where the Society of Jesus could have an establishment of its own, as a centre of missionary activities, and quite independent, financially, of that settlement.

And such a site he found while going with the surveyor over the site of the future "Sevenhill Township," as he tells us in the same letter to his Provincial, dated the 29th January, 1851:

"A beginning has been made to secure a property, and a fine one, too, for the Society. At the same time that I prospected for land for the new settlers I had in mind to secure some piece of land in the neighborhood on favorable terms for ourselves. ... By a most fortunate chance, or, rather—for chance does not exist—by the kindly disposition'of Providence, it came about that 'one of the finest sections in the neighborhood, a little away from the road, appeared on the horizon.

I had gone out as on other occasions to survey the land, and I met an agent who is entrusted with dealings in such matters with single persons. He told me of a piece of land for £2 (right of purchase) per acre for 14 years, at £20 total annual rent. These were the easiest conditions I had so far heard of, and so we had to go off at once to see the place.

He brought me to an allotment not more than two miles (English) from here (the place where he lived with the two Brothers and Dr. Sokolowsky), a section of land over which I had already often walked with the deepest longings that we might one day be able to call it our own.

l had hardly the patience to walk round it from corner to corner first, and hardly had we finished our walk than I blurted out, 'I will take it.' Delighted with my find I trotted home. Your Reverence will, perhaps, wonder why I first had recourse to a lease, and did not buy a Government allotment. My answer to this is—first, that nearly all the good lots in the neighborhood are already bought, a bad piece of land is not worth while at a cheap price, and then one must not quite empty one's pockets when money is not in abundance."

Sevenhill buildings, with the College in the foreground 1900

This section to which Father Kranewitter refers is section 98, about a quarter of a mile from the present village of Sevenhill, and the site of what is still called the "College," the residence of the Jesuits in the Clare district, and acquired (first by lease) in January 1851'.

"On the Feast of the Annunciation" (25th March, 1851), as we learn from the diary of Brother Francis Poelzl, S.J., "Brother John Schreiner went there first and made a shelter of tree trunks and grass, and began to make a garden, then a hut was built of split logs plastered together with mud and clay, and the roof of long grasses mixed with mud after the fashion and manner of the Australian style of wooden buildings at the time.

The week after Easter (1851) Father Kranewitter and Br. Sadler came to this new house— the Sevenhill of today!"

In September the first vines were planted, the slips being brought by Brother John Schreiner from Mr. Hawker's place at Bungaree, near Clare, the beginning of Seven-

hill vineyard.

Hence by April, 1851, Father Kranewitter and the two Brothers, having left the house near Donnybrook, were already living at Sevenhill (though not yet called so) in a mud hut on the present site of the College. It was situated where now stood the first vines one meets on the left on going along the path from the present College building to the Cellars, but fell to pieces and was pulled down on June 8, 1869.

Meanwhile, what of the settlement of German Catholics at what came to be "Sevenhill Township"? From April, 1851, the leases could be taken out, and gradually a few lots were occupied.

Cottage at Sevenhill 1975

Then came 1852 and the "gold rush" to Bendigo, of which we shall have to say some more presently. That stayed matters completely for about 18 months, and after that setback a few people came, but the great plan may be considered to have failed. However, something was done.

In 1853 the whole block was released in fee from Thomas Burr to Charles Haussen, who apparently acted for Father Kranewitter, who was reasonably cautious in committing himself, at a price or £142 10/, and finally in July, 1855, Father Kranewitter had become sufficiently courageous to have it conveyed from Haussen to himself, the whole block with all minerals, for £200.

Thus the whole block passed into the possession of Father Kranewitter, who held it till it should be bought piece by piece. The first person to purchase (not lease) a portion was not a German, but an Irish Catholic—"Thomas O'Brien, of Clare, cabinetmaker"—who bought allotments 8, 9, and 10, with right-of-way over private streets, for £30, on the 13th June, 1856.

During the 1860's and 1870's other lots were bought, till today most of "the village" has been sold to owners, but a large portion of section 91 still remains Jesuit property.

Though the large scheme of Father Kranewitter failed, as did the first scheme of Weikert, one important part of it was secured, for Sevenhill remains today as a settlement, though small, of fervent Catholics, German, Polish, and Irish.

Father Kranewitter Follows Flock to Bendigo.

After this anticipation we turn back to consider the events of the year after the first "settlements" at what is now Sevenhill, 1852.

This was the year of the great gold rush to the "diggings" at Bendigo in Victoria. The exodus from South Australia to Victoria brought a real crisis to the colony.

Gold rush caravan

The population was reduced to a remnant; in the districts which concern us the Burra mines were deserted, fell to ruins, and were never fully worked afterwards, and from Clare itself a whole caravan set off overland at the beginning of the year for Bendigo.

In this caravan was the greater part of the Catholic population of the Clare district, no one remaining behind, one might say, but the women and the children, and with this caravan went Father Kranewitter, following his flock to care for their spiritual interests on the journey, and till they should be provided for at Bendigo.

It was at this time (1852) that Father McQuinn left Clare for the Sydney archdiocese. Father Kranewitter was expecting another Jesuit priest shortly to help him, and so soon there would be no need for Father McQuinn to remain at Clare.

The exodus from the district to the Bendigo diggings left him almost destitute, and so he chose this time to carry out an arrangement already made between himself and Dr. Polding of Sydney, by which he was transferred to the Sydney archdiocese.

Hence, Father Kranewitter, on returning from Bendigo at the end of March, found himself appointed by Dr. Murphy, of Adelaide, to the full charge of the Clare district, with the obligation still to visit the German Catholics as far south as Tanunda.

"Father Kranewitter’s participation in the local exodus to the Bendigo diggings netted sufficient gold dust to ensure a sound financial base for the Jesuits."

To conclude this account of the origins of Sevenhill it only remains for us to follow in sufficient detail the history of the two foundations—Village and Jesuit establishment—from 1862 to 1856.

In October, 1852, another Jesuit priest arrived from Austria to help in the work in South Australia, Father Joseph Tappeiner. It was now possible to extend the scope of the mission.

From 1849 onwards we find records of baptisms given by Father Kranewitter, not only in the Clare district, Penwortham, Armagh, Bumburney, but at Mintaro, Wakefield and Kooringa, and Bethany, Angas Park and Longmeil. in 1864 we have the first entries of baptisms in the "Northern Areas."

No doubt before leaving Clare Father McQuinn had done any work that was necessary north of Clare, this was not Father Kranewitter's province then.

S.J. Father Joseph Tappeiner in about 1869:

The arrival of Father Tappeiner in October, 1852, made it possible, after Father Tappeiner was sufficiently familiar with the work in the Clare district for Father Kranewitter to go on what might be called missionary "explorations" in the "Areas," and so, in 1854, we find him baptising at Stone Hut (White's Run) on the 30th July, and at Booyoolee (Hughes' Run) next day, 31st July.

It may well be in this very neighborhood that the incidents which occurred on an expedition of his to the "Northern Areas" in the next year (1855) occurred. The account is sufficiently interesting to be given in full.

Sevenhill College.

After the return of Father Kranewitter from the Northern Areas—that is, some time after June, 1855—a beginning was made for a new work at the Jesuit mission establishment in the Clare district, of which Father Kranewitter has something of interest to say in a letter written next year (1856) to the Director of the Ludwigs-Verein:—

"What a beautiful place for a college, said a Protestant on a visit to us, rightly guessing, even though he was not a prophet, at the thoughts which, however, we had not yet openly expressed. The fine healthy position of the place, beside a spring of water which one so rarely finds in Australia, marks it off as especially appropriate for such a purpose, and one could hardly undertake anything more profitable to the good cause in Australia than the opening of a college to train up men in the true Catholic spirit.

For, in the -whole of South Australia, no such institution is to be found, and. those Catholics who wish their children to secure some education have to. send them to private institutions managed by Protestants.

Our Right Reverend Bishop, the higher clergy, and the Catholic lay people, too, have constantly been urging us to undertake some work for the education of Catholics, and we would soon have sufficient pupils.

But in times when the price of labor is so costly, since the discovery of gold mines, when one must give, an ordinary laboring man £50 a year and His keep, and pay a bricklayer 14/ for a day's work, building is not to be undertaken lightly; But when, in the second half of 1855, as we had expected, the price of labor became more moderate, we set our hands to the work, in God's name, and started to build a house to accommodate a few pupils.

So, in the latter half of 1855, the building of what was very soon to be "Sevenhill College" was begun.

In November of this same year (1855), as Father Kranewitter tells us, Father Tappeiner made his first mission journey to the "Northern Areas," and the baptism records at Sevenhill show that he was baptising on the 12th December, at Mt. Remarkable, Melrose.

In January, 1856, an important addition was made to the staff of the Jesuit Mission, with the arrival in South Australia of Father John Evangelist Pallhuber.

Since the dispersal of the Austrian Jesuits in 1848 he had been working among the German Catholics in the Maryland district of the United States of America, a companion of his doing similar work in America being Father Joseph Polk, also to come to Australia after a few years.

He was a great addition to the mission, a man of great physical endurance, thoroughly devoted to his work for souls, with a good command of English.

His arrival made it possible for Father Kranewitter to return to Europe for his

tertianship or second noviciate; and by returning to Europe, too, he could give firsthand information in person about the state of affairs in South Australia, and so prepare the way for future additions to the mission staff.

Father Kranewitter left Adelaide for Europe at the end of March, 1856. By April the new stone house—built of local stone put together with rough mortar—was sufficiently completed to take a few pupils; a stone inscribed with the date 1856 still stands inserted in its walls to show the year of building.

Father Tappeiner and Father Pallhuber, the only Jesuit priests in Australia, in April of that year decided that it should be called "St. Aloysius' College, Sevenhill.".

The first person to come to the college was Mr. Tennison Woods, who came in April, 1856, to be prepared for ordination as a priest at the end of the year.

With the establishment of St. Aloysius' College, Sevenhill, one may say that the parish of Sevenhill was now fixed. The resident parish priest from that date onward resided definitely at "Sevenhill," and Clare, which originally gave the name to the parish, became a part of "Sevenhill Parish."



- Mary MacKillop -

In 1852, the Adelaide Bishop had assigned the entire north of the Colony to the care of the Jesuits, and the growth in European settlement saw the beginning of many new towns in this area.

From Sevenhill the priests would set off to provide Mass at various centres, and in time a little church would be built there.

Later, a Residence for two Fathers and a Brother would be built, and thus throughout that area they eventually built seven Residences in major towns, and some thirty churches, as well as supplying a further twenty-five Mass centres.

One of the diocesan priests they trained was Julian Tennyson Woods, later to found the Sisters of Saint Joseph with Blessed Mary MacKillop.

Another was Christopher Reynolds, later to be the Bishop and then first Archbishop of Adelaide.

From Sevenhill, and their House at Norwood in Adelaide, they set off to give numerous Retreats in parish Missions, and they conducted the priests’ Retreats, year after year.

On one visit in 1875, the Bishop blessed or opened no less than seven of their new churches just in one fortnight.

Like the colony itself, the Mission was constantly plagued with debt, and would not have been viable without the work of the Brothers, who together had such an array of skills and trades that Sevenhill was able to operate successfully as a Mission, and support the Jesuit communities working from other centres.

Unlike the Irish, the Austrians shunned controversy, and were involved in no public disputations. When the extraordinary event of the excommunication of Australia’s first Saint, Blessed Mary MacKillop took place in 1871, the Jesuits at Norwood realised that the Bishop’s act was invalid, and gave her shelter.

Mary MacKillop’s brother Donald had been a student a Sevenhill, and had entered the Jesuits, the Adelaide Bishop had assigned the entire north of the Colony to the care of the Jesuits, and the growth in European settlement saw the beginning of many new towns in this area. - A history of the Jesuits in Australia - p.3



This account is made up in the main from the Sevenhill Archives. Most useful information has also been secured from the Public Library and the Archives section of the same in Adelaide, in which we have been able to refer to the shipping lists, to contemporary newspaper, and to the Almanacks of South Australia. Peculiarly valuable information has been secured from the Lands Titles Office, the officials of which, as well as those at the Library and the Archives, were most obliging and helpful. We have also received useful information from many individuals, among whom we must mention Mr. Edmund M. Heuzenroeder, solicitor, of Adelaide, Mr. T. Gillen, senr., and Mr. Frank Knappstein, of Clare, Miss Mary Thekla Abfalter and Mr. Louis Kozlowski, of Sevenhill, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wyman, of Penwortham.

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