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The Eastern Vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope was established in 1847, when the Vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope was divided into Eastern and Western. Later the Eastern Vicariate was subdivided three times. As now constituted, it is bounded on the north by the Orange River , on the west by the civil districts (included in the vicariate) of Hopetown, Richmond, Murraysberg, Britstown, Jansenville, Humansdorp, Aberdeen, and Uitenhage; on the south by the Indian Ocean; on the east by the western boundary of Tembuland, Griqualand East, and the southwestern boundary of Basutoland.

On 27 December, 1847, Dr. Devereux was consecrated, in Cape Town, Bishop of Paneas and first Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern Vicariate, by Dr. Griffith, under whom he had worked for nine years. Through the Dhanis family of Belgium the new vicar Apostolic received the first considerable funds to start work. But his life was spent in the turmoil of Kafir wars, and was a struggle with poverty and the dearth of priests. His successor, Dr. Moran, had been curate of Irishtown, Dublin, and arrived in the colony in November, 1856. He was a man of great energy, and a strenuous opponent of the grant of responsible government. The Sacred Congregation of Propaganda appointed him first Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand , in 1870. Next year, the Rev. J. D. Ricards was consecrated bishop at Grahamstown, with the title in partibus of Retimo, by the Vicar Apostolic of Natal, Dr. Allard. Dr. Ricards had already spent twenty-two years in the country and, whether as a writer, or lecturer, or pastor, had left his mark in the land. He founded the "Cape Colonist", a paper which did a unique work in its day by its fearless advocacy of purity in public life and sane views on the native problems. Several of the bishop's larger controversial works are still read and highly appreciated. In 1880 he brought to South Africa the first contingent of Trappists, who were to teach the natives not only the Christian faith, but the much needed lesson of work. The expansion of this order (since transferred to the Natal Vicariate) has been remarkable. About two years before Dr. Ricards's death a coadjutor was appointed in the person of Dr. Strobino, who, however, became a hopeless invalid soon after the death of Dr. Ricards. Dr. Strobino was succeeded in 1896 by his coadjutor, the Rt. Rev. Hugh MacSherry, formerly administrator of Dundalk in Ireland, who had been consecrated a few months before.

There are 74 churches, chapels, and stations in the Eastern Vicariate, served by 52 priests, of whom 18 belong to the Society of Jesus , and two are Trappists. There are 44 schools, mission and private, two orphanages, and one nursing home. The number of men not in Holy orders belonging to religious institutes is 37 -- Marists, de la Salle Brothers, and Jesuits. There are 331 religious women -- Dominicans, Sisters of Nazareth, of the Holy Cross, of the Little Company of Mary, of the Assumption. The Catholic population is more than 13,000, of whom only a few hundred are natives.

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