A Letter of Complaint

COPY OF ORIGINAL DRAFT HELD IN ADELAIDE ARCHDIOCESAN ARCHIVES. THIS ITEM IS IN FATHER HORAN’S HAND. Dated February 1871.

May it please Your Lordship, we the undersigned beg leave to lay before you the following allegations:
That having, since your Lordship’s departure for Europe looked on with pain and without power of remedy at the detriment caused directly to Education and indirectly to Religion by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in this diocese we have considered it our bounden duty (as being responsible for the souls committed to our charge) to bring the matter officially under your Lordship’s notice.
That having had an opportunity in our respective districts of judging of the efficiency of the aforesaid sisters in the matter of imparting a satisfactory education to our children we conscientiously declare that they are utterly inadequate to such an object and that consequently a gross injustice is being done to the children of the Catholic community by withholding from them a class of education that should place them on a par with their fellow colonists of other denominations.
That in many of the outlying districts no provision whatsoever is made for the education of the male sex and that in consequence thereof Catholic boys have to attend schools belonging to other religious persuasions.
That consequent on such an imperfect system of education the Catholic children throughout the greater portion (if not all) of your Lordship’s diocese are in comparative ignorance when contrasted with the youth of other denominations around them.
That this state of things if suffered to continue cannot but redound to the discredit and disgrace of the Catholics of this diocese.
We also wish to state that exclusive of their “Father Director” the priests of the diocese are by the aforesaid sisters virtually and practically looked upon as nonentities and as a proof of the truth of this statement we offer as an instance – a single instance – that on the late lamentable occasion when the blessed Sacrament had been abstracted from the tabernacle – and that nine priests (virtually on their oaths) without a single dissenting voice gave a verdict against an individual sister as the unfortunate and infatuated being who had been guilty of the sacrilege – that same condemned sister was in defiance and in the teeth of such verdict retained in the responsible position of Mistress of Novices.
We furthermore wish to state that the opinion of the local pastors is never sought or respected in the matter of education – also that without their permission (and sometimes even against their expressed orders) collections are made by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in their districts. – That the said sisters have been known to establish of their own accord and without the local Pastor’s knowledge have religious Confraternities – from which they have been in receipt of monies that have been forwarded to Adelaide for Masses to be said “in globo” (?) for the members of the said contributing confraternities.
That girls – ignorant girls – are constantly admitted into the community of the Sisters of Saint Joseph who have had neither character nor recommendation nor spiritual counsel on the matter of their religious vocation from their local Pastor. – That it is our firm belief – founded on circumstantial evidence – that the sisters (or those by whom they are guided) instruct to the foregoing effect the individuals who present themselves as postulants.
That at least three fourths of the present members of the society are utterly useless for educational purposes and finally – that if the number of candidates to be hereafter admitted continue at the present formidable rate – the diocese shall in a short time become inundated with a host of uneducated and ignorant sisters (in religion) who while they shall be an unbearable onus on both priests and people shall be of no use whatsoever towards the enlightenment of the growing Catholic youth of the colony.
Signatures:
Venerable Archdeacon Russell Rev. C. Horan
Very Rev. C. Reynolds Rev. T.Murphy
Very Rev. F. Byrne Rev. R. Cleary
Very Rev. P. Hughes Rev. B. Nevin
Rev Michael Kennedy Rev. James Maher
Rev. J.J. Roche

P.S. We wish to state that it is our opinion that much injury is done to religion by the publication of visions, revelations and prophecies said to be received by the sisters and [the Very Rev. JET Woods.]