Chronicling Adelong’s past
The Parish of St James, Adelong dates from May 1923, when it was created from territory that had previously been within the Parish of Tumut. The new parish, which was placed under the care of parish priest Father James McDade, included three churches (at Adelong, Batlow and Grahamstown) as well as a number of rural locality ‘mass stations’, where Masses were celebrated intermittently, (usually in halls or private homes).
Father McDade served in Adelong for two years before being replaced by Father Harold Devine in 1925.
It is the period of Father Devine’s ministry (1925 to 1929) in the formative years of Adelong parish that was recently brought to attention by the discovery in the Archdiocesan Archives of an issue of the 1920s parish newsletter The Catholic Chronicle.
The earliest parish returns show Adelong as a small parish of 250-300 regular church goers across all Mass centres, with 80-100 children attending the Catholic Schools in Adelong and Batlow.
But Father Devine’s correspondence with his Bishop (Bishop John Barry) and reporting in the one issue we have of the Chronicle, show his parishioners to be enthusiastic fundraisers who were dedicated to giving their parish a sound footing.
Writing in the Chronicle for June 1926 he spoke of the parish in this way:
‘. . . the spirit of Adelong Parish rings true, tested by the highest standards of Catholic tradition. The spirit which established a Convent school in Adelong nearly 40 years ago still endures amongst us.
Of Batlow, the same must be said.’
Letters to Bishop Barry during Fr Devine’s ministry in Adelong set out the following achievements for the parish:
By 1925 a presbytery for the parish priest had been provided in Adelong.
The parishioners in Batlow had welcomed a community of three Sisters of St Joseph in 1923. A convent had been provided, and by 1928 a new church/school dedicated to St Mary had been built (replacing the earlier timber church in Batlow).
The old timber church in the goldmining centre of Grahamstown, which was in a poor state of repair, had been dismantled and re-erected in a better spot on the site. On completion in July 1927 the church was re-dedicated as the Church of St Patrick.
Discovering ‘The Catholic Chronicle’
The one issue of the 4-page Catholic Chronicle located is identified as Volume 1, Number 6 and dated June 1926. The main author seems to have been Fr Devine, with the printing done by G C Watson Printers of Tumut. The price is shown as ‘gratis’.
References found in papers held by the Archives indicate that at least two issues had been produced in 1925, and that it was still being produced in 1927. We know that it ran for at least three years. Advertisers featured in the issue held include businesses from Adelong, Batlow and Grahamstown as well as from the nearby larger centres of Tumut and Cootamundra.
Do you know anything about this parish newsletter that had its life over 90 years ago? The Catholic Voice would be pleased to hear from anyone who can tell us more about the The Catholic Chronicle of Adelong Parish.
• Denis Connor is the Archdiocesan Archivist