A history of the Roman Catholic vicariate of Cooktown, 1877-1941

Endicott, Michael A. (Michael Ambrose) (1984). A history of the Roman Catholic vicariate of Cooktown, 1877-1941 PhD Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Endicott, Michael A. (Michael Ambrose)
Thesis Title A history of the Roman Catholic vicariate of Cooktown, 1877-1941
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1984
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Total pages 398
Language eng
Subjects 2204 Religion and Religious Studies
Formatted abstract
In 1889 a newspaper correspondent of the Townsville Herald stated that an active interest in religion was not a strong trait in the Georgetown district of far north Queensland. He said that, should the presence of both a visiting Methodist preacher and a Catholic priest cause competition for use of the court house as a temporary place of worship, most citizens would not "trouble about the matter in the slightest".

How would public opinion such as this affect a Christian denomination in the region? How was a denomination further affected when its adherents were Roman Catholics of an Irish mould in what was a British and Protestant milieu? To compound matters further, what would happen if, in this society that was hostile to Aborigines, Catholic priests were expected to give Aboriginal evangelisation the same priority as their ministry to Catholics? In 1840 far north Queensland was a vast area inhabited by Aborigines; by 1940, like many other institutions by then in the region, the Roman Catholic Church had failed to evangelise the Aborigines, and, not without difficulty, had spent seventy years ministering to a predominantly Irish-Catholic working class congregation. The Church's history was troubled by the vastness of the area; the remoteness from Church leadership in Rome, which had hoped for missions to the Aborigines; the attitudes of the Irish, who sought a hibernicised Church in the tropics; the pitfalls of a nineteenth-century economy; the idiosyncrasies of key figures; and the difficulty of creating an administrative structure that could adapt to the threefold problems of distance, a sparse and scattered population, and inadequate financing.

From 1877 to 1941, the Vicariate of Cooktown (subsequently made the Diocese of Cairns) was an institutional unit within an international Church. It
experienced a pattern of difficulties and developmental problems that, to a varying degree, impinged on Catholicism in all parts of Australia. In addition, the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith ("Propaganda", Rome's administrative agent for the Church in Australia and other lands where Catholicism was still developing), in constituting the Vicariate, assigned Aboriginal evangelisation a priority equal to that of ministry to its
Roman Catholics. To assist this twofold goal, the Vicariate in 1884 was staffed exclusively with priests of a Religious Order, a second exception to the norm in Australia. The establishment of this twofold goal, and the steps taken to enhance its fulfilment, influenced the development of the Vicariate, caused it to be held at vicariate status for an unusually long period of sixty-three years, and seriously affected the sequence and timing involved in the creation of subsequent Roman Catholic dioceses in Queensland.

Chapter 1 introduces Australian Catholic history, Catholicism's initial approach to Aboriginal evangelisation, and the reasoning that led Propaganda to form the Vicariate in far north Queensland. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 examine chronologically the four appointments within six years to the post of Vicar Apostolic at Cooktown. Chapter 5 is a developmental overview of the Vicariate from 1884 to 1914, a prelude to thematic studies of efforts to change the size of the Vicariate (Chapter 6), its financial aspects (Chapter 7), pastoral methodology (Chapter 8), its theological and cultural context (Chapter 9), its Religious personnel (Chapter 10), and ministry to those not of an Anglo-Celtic culture (Chapter 11) . Chapter 12 deals with the administration of the Vicariate by its last Vicar Apostolic, from 1914 to 1948, and examines the positive and negative factors that led Propaganda in 1941 to elevate the region to the status of a diocese and to hand it over to diocesan clergy.
Keyword Augustinians -- Queensland
Catholic Church. Diocese of Cairns (Qld.)
Catholic Church -- Queensland, Northern -- History
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Created: Tue, 03 Nov 2009, 17:36:02 EST by Ms Christine Heslehurst on behalf of Social Sciences and Humanities Library Service