Kyneton Guardian and Woodend and Malmsbury Chronicle 15th April, 1865 p. 2
The following letter appears in last Thursday’s Daylesford Express. At the earnest request of the Rev. Father Forde we give it space in our columns. This clergyman, it will be remembered, has been travelling in this colony for the purpose, of collecting funds for the erection of two chapels in the curacy of Ballyvaughan, a poor district in County Clare, Ireland.
During the twenty months or so he has been here he has met with considerable success, having collected about £1,600 chiefly in small sums. Bishop Goold objects to receiving the visits of priests travelling in this manner in his diocese, considering that the people of his charge have enough to do to provide places of worship in a new country where everything has to be begun. Consequently Father Forde was
forbidden by the Bishop to collect, and the members of the Roman Catholic persuasion to subscribe, to the funds he proposed to raise by his “mission.” Notwithstanding this prohibition Father Forde has continued his collection, and under the circumstances, his success either proves the exuberance of the resources of his country people and co-religionists, who cannot find outlet in this colony sufficient for their charity, or, that under the unassuming exterior of a quiet country priest, he possesses powers of persuasion of which we would be happy to own the merest “wrinkle.”
We may state that before Father Forde went to Daylesford, he desired the insertion of a letter which we positively refused to have anything to do with, as we thought it written in a style un-worthy of his profession, for the purpose of traducing a clergyman whom, nobody in the Kyneton district but respects. Without identifying
ourselves in any way with the dispute or its cause, we append the accompanying letter, premising that since appearing in. a journal in a
a neighbouring town it has become public
To the Editor of the Express.
SIR,—Having heard from an authentic, source that the Kev Father Geogehan, of Kyneton, on Sunday last spoke from the altar of the Roman Catholic Church there in terms depreciatory of my character; that he censured those who had subscribed to the charitable purpose I am successfully carrying out through the liberality of the Victorian colonists, and prohibited, the members of his congregation from giving any assistance in the matter, I am constrained to suppose that you will afford me a little space to reply to the observations of that gentleman. I have already satisfied all disinterested persons that I am duly accredited in my mission but may add in further confirmation on that point, that not only from my own bishop only have I received, credentials but also from the Right Rev. Prelates of Clonfert and Galway, and that I suffered to submit these and other similar documents, and also acknowledgements of remittances to the proper parties in Ireland, to the inspection of the Rev. Father Geogehan; but that he declined to look at them, stating: “That it was his bishop’s wish that he should do so.”
Upon the same occasion, a person who had been in my parish in Ireland, but who was then a member of Mr Geogehan’s flock accompanied me to him; but he refused to hear her speak in attestation of my character, and in explanation of the position I held at home, or of the one I now occupy here. Upon my arrival in Kyneton, I was informed that Father Geogehan desired to have an interview with “the stranger” collecting funds for a charitable purpose in Ireland, and a friend of mine thereupon wrote to him intimating my willingness to meet him; but he declined the interview he himself had proposed. Is such conduct as this, I would ask you Sir, either fair or gentlemanly, or becoming the sacred character of a priest? Would any person with the slightest sense of justice refuse to hear the vindication of a man whose character he had publicly and most flagrantly outraged; and what is to be thought of a clergyman who would not readily and gladly permit a fellow-worker in the vineyard of the Lord to relieve himself from the ill effects of calumny and scandal that had originated in covetousness and to all uncharitableness. I have already shown my testimonials to hundreds of persons in all parts of the colony, but am nevertheless quite willing to submit them to the examination of as many men as may wish to peruse them. But I can mention one circumstance that occurred since my arrival in the colony, that will satisfactorily show that those at least who are ungenerously fomenting opposition to my purpose are well assured that I am what I represent myself to be—i.e., Roman Catholic curate of Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland,
The Very Rev. Dr. Bleasdale, acting as I am to presume upon the instructions of his Bishop, proposed to me in Melbourne that I should take a mission under the Right Rev. Dr. Goold, and discontinue collecting for the purpose for which I arrived in the colony. That offer was made by him and declined by me in the presence of a third party. My reply at length was that I would if my Bishop would allow me, and they would also give me £2000 for the object for which I came out. Dr. Bleasdale then whistled, but said nothing, and so the interview ended.
Allow me to avail myself of this opportunity of thanking the inhabitants of Woodend and Malmsbury for the munificent sum I collected among them
and the people of Daylesford and surrounding districts, for their liberality in the same cause—I
am, sir, your much obliged and humble servant.
FRANCIS FORDE, R.C.C.
Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland.
Daylesford, April 12,1865.