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Diocese in Victoria, Australia ; suffragan of Melbourne. The cathedral city, officially known as Bendigo, is situated about one hundred miles directly north of Melbourne, in a shallow basin surrounded by an amphitheatre of gently-rising hills rich in gold, discovered in the district in 1852. This fact attracted to Bendigo immigrants from all parts of the world, among them many Irish and others professing the Catholic Faith. The first missionary was the Rev. Dr. Backhaus. On 21 Sept., 1874, Most Reverend Martin Crane, O.S.A., was consecrated first bishop of this diocese and arrived at the scene of his future labors early in 1875 accompanied by the Rev. M. Maher and the Rev. Stephen Reville, O.S.A. The latter was in 1885 appointed coadjutor bishop to Dr. Crane and succeeded him as bishop on 21 Oct., 1901. During the twenty five years of Dr. Crane's active administration, and since his demise, the interests of the Church have advanced rapidly both in a spiritual and material sense. When in 1875 Bishop Crane assumed charge of the diocese it contained but four parishes with one priest in each. There was no convent or Catholic school. At present the principal churches are situated at Wangaratta, Beechworth, Benalla, Chiltern, Shepparton, Echuca, and Rochester. The two last named parishes together with that of Kyabram are in charge of the Irish Augustinian Fathers who, at the invitation of Bishop Crane, came to the diocese towards the close of 1886. Besides the Augustinian Fathers , there are Marist Brothers, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Brigid, Sisters of St. Joseph, Presentation Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus, and Good Shepherd Sisters. In many outlying districts, unable to maintain a community of nuns, there are flourishing primary schools in charge of lay teachers. In the immediate vicinity of Bendigo, there is now in course of construction an orphanage and Magdalen Asylum, which up to date has cost £45,000, the funds for which are derived from the estate of Dr. Backhaus.
The statistics for 1911 are: districts, 22; churches 105; secular priests, 36, regular, 6; religious brothers 7; nuns, 200; college, 1; boarding-schools (girls), 6; primary schools, 31; superior day-schools, 13; children in Catholic schools, over 4000; total Catholic population (1901), 45,368.
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