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Monday, 15 June 2015 11:40

Pioneer books unearth stories of faith, empire and justice

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Perth historical books 150Two recently released books about Archbishop Patrick Clune CSsr, written by Fr Christopher Dowd, and Bishop Martin Griver, written by Odhran O’Brien, are still available for sale by the Archdiocese of Perth.

The books provide a unique insight into the lives of Bishop Martin Griver (1814–1886) and Archbishop Patrick Clune (1864-1935), recalling the stories of faith, empire and social justice during the challenging early years of the local community in Perth and the Church in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Archdiocese commissioned the books during the restoration of St Mary’s Cathedral, which was completed in 2009.

In launching Faith, Ireland and Empire – The Life of Patrick Joseph Clune CSsr last month, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe sdb praised the work of author Father Christopher Dowd op, while also providing some insight into the life of Archbishop Clune.

“When Patrick Clune entered the seminary of All Hallows in 1881, he did so knowing that he was embarking on a journey of study and formation which would see him become priest not just for Ireland itself, but for what the All Hallows Annual for 1903/1904 would describe as greater Ireland beyond the seas,” the Archbishop said.

“Luckily for us, here in Western Australia, that greater Ireland included Australia and our western corner of it.

“As we have heard, the young Fr Clune arrived in Sydney in 1886, and the story of his life of administering service in our country had begun,” the Archbishop continued.

“That story is told with great sympathy and great insight by Fr Christopher Dowd op, whom at least one commentator has described recently as one of Australia’s leading Church historians.

“Fr Dowd has done the Church of Western Australia, and indeed the whole Catholic community of Australia, a great service in bringing this important figure, the fourth bishop and first Archbishop of Perth, to life in such a readable and accessible way.”

Both Archbishop Clune and Bishop Griver made significant contributions to the design and development of St Mary’s Cathedral during their respective terms of office.

As Catholic bishops, Griver and Clune were charged with both the spiritual and earthly care of the Catholic community in Western Australia.

In addition to vigorously travelling the expanse of Australia for their pastoral duties, they built churches and schools, established charitable organisations and campaigned for better social welfare on behalf of the underprivileged.

A friend of Bishop Rosendo Salvado, the founder of New Norcia, the Spaniard Martin Griver was both a surgeon and a scholar of saintly reputation.

His accounts of travelling the Western Australian outback in the 1850s and 1860s give a unique glimpse into colonial life in the Antipodes.

Meanwhile, Irishman Patrick Clune was a renowned preacher who was appointed a chaplain in World War I and later acted as an intermediary between Lloyd-George and the Irish leaders during the Irish War of Independence.

In launching Unearthed – Martin Griver, by Odhran O’Brien, Archdiocese of Perth Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey spoke about the title of the book and its significance.

“The book that has been written about him, is called, aptly enough, Martin Griver, Unearthed,” Emeritus Archbishop Hickey said.

“He was literally unearthed only a short time ago, along with the body of Bishop Gibney, but he has been unearthed as a person of great substance and importance in the history, not only for Western Australia but especially of the Diocese of Perth as it was then.

“The presence of so many people here tonight convinces me that history generally is of great interest, and the history of the Diocese, later the Archdiocese of Perth, is of enormous interest to Catholic people.

“It’s full of scandals, it’s full of trials, it’s full of fights and excuses and arguments – it’s wonderful really.

“It shows how much one can draw from the different personalities – the conflicts, the tensions, with beautiful results.

“And when we look back, we can see the hand of God working in the lives of all the people responsible for the progress made here in the Diocese of Perth.

Archbishop Emeritus also paid tribute to Odhran O’Brien for his work on publishing the life of Martin Griver.

Originally from Ireland, Mr O’Brien has been applying his research skills to his work as a Heritage Advisor for the Town of Claremont and is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Western Australia on the relationship between the Catholic Church and government of Western Australia during the colonial period.

(Photo above shows Fr Christopher Dowd (left) discusses the biography of Archbishop Clune with ABC Journalist Peter Kennedy.)

Order your copy of the book here.

This was first published on 22 May 2015 at The Record, the publication of the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth.