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DIOCESE OF LISMORE (LISMORENSIS)

The Diocese of Lismore extends over a territory of 21,000 squire miles in the nort-east of New South Wales (Australia). It comprises a portion of the Eastern Coast district, from Point Danger on the Queensland border to the north of Mount Lindsay, and from the western base of the latter to a point ten miles south of Mount Seaview, thence to a point ten miles south of Port Macquarie. The diocese is watered by the Macleay, the Clarence, the Richmond, and other rapid rivers that rise in the New England and Macpherson ranges, and contains a good deal of rich pastoral, agricultural, and dairying land. Among its chief products are sugar and maize. In 1837 the waters of the Clarence were first cleft by white men's keels — two sailing vessels, one of which made a beginning of the pastoral settlement of the district by landing the first cattle that ever browsed upon the banks of that fine river. The first Catholic family (the Hawthornes) arrived in Grafton, on the Clarence, in 1841. Their first two children were taken to Sydney (450 miles by sea) to be baptized. In 1859 Grafton (then with a population of about 1800) was incorporated as a borough. There was no resident priest in any part of the present diocese till 1862, and the rugged and sparsely populated North Coast (as it is called) was visited occasionally from Sydney, Ipswich (Queensland), and annually from Armidale, from March, 1854, till 1862.

The first church on the North Coast was opened at South Grafton on 23 September, 1857, at a cost of £100. Archbishop Polding paid his first visit to these outlying parts of his see in 1860, and two years later the first resident priest (Rev. Timothy McCarthy) took up his quarters in the principal town, Grafton, his parochial charge extending — till Tenterfield received a resident priest in 1866 3 from Coff's harbour to the Tweed Heads, and from Tenterfield to Ballina. In 1869 the territory of the present See of Lismore was included in the newly formed Diocese of Armidale. The pioneer religious of the Lismore diocese (the Sisters of Mercy ) reached Grafton in 1884. By Brief of 10 May, 1887, Grafton was erected into an episcopal see, and the Right Rev. Jeremiah Joseph Doyle, then in charge of Lismore, was shortly afterwards (28 August, 1887) consecrated its first bishop in St. Mary's cathedral, Sydney. He chose Lismore as his residence (later on, the name of the diocese was changed to Lismore). In 1878 there were only three Catholic families and a scanty population in Lismore, but, owing to the richness of its soil, the district has since then progressed at a rapid rate. The foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid on Rosary Sunday, 1892, and the edifice was completed in 1908. Bishop Doyle died suddenly, 4 June, 1909. Rev. John Carroll, of Moss Vale, Australia, born at Piltown, Kilkenny, Ireland, 1866, and ordained at The College, Carlow, 1890, was consecrated bishop 4 April, 1910.

There were in the Diocese of Lismore, at the close of 1909, 19 parochial districts, 51 churches, 20 secular priests, 104 nuns, 6 boarding schools, and 6 superior day schools for girls, 11 primary parochial schools, 1907 children receiving Catholic education and about 19,500 Catholics in a total white population of some 80,000.


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