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Diocese in Victoria, Australia, comprises all the territory known as Gippsland. In 1840 Count Strzelecki, an expatriated Polish scientist, accompanied by a young Irishman named James Riley and some attendants, first penetrated this region, which they found to be singularly fertile and teeming with resources, though hitherto regarded as a trackless waste. Its scenery is remarkably beautiful, and it is often called the "Garden of Australia ". Still it was colonized but slowly, as the native inhabitants were regarded as fierce and warlike, while many natural obstacles to settlement were offered by the dense forests, lofty mountain ranges, and swift torrents. At the present time, however, it is one of the regions of Australia best known to tourists. It is rich in pasture and timber lands, while its vast mineral wealth is still only partly developed.
The capital is Sale, now the seat of the episcopal see erected in 1887 at the request of the plenary synod. Its first bishop was the present titular Rt. Rev. James Francis Corbett. He was born at Limerick in 1840; his theological studies were made in France, and on his return he worked for some years as a priest in his native diocese. He went to Australia at the invitation of Archbishop Goold of Melbourne, to whom he acted as diocesan secretary while fulfilling the duties of pastor of St. Kilda's. He was assistant secretary of the synod of 1885, and on his appointment to the new see was consecrated by Archbishop Carr of Melbourne 25 August, 1887, in the Church of St. Kilda which he himself had built. On his arrival in his diocese there were within its limits three parochial districts and four priests, three of whom afterwards returned to their former Diocese of Melbourne. There are now (1911) 9 parishes, 18 priests, 47 churches or chapels, and 10 schools with 830 pupils. The Catholic population is 13,521, and there are 61 sisters of Notre Dame de Sion.
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