Churches, like people, develop what might be called a distinctive personality of their own. This is not merely atmosphere, not power of suggestion, or the idea of association, much less a wishful imagination. It is as though the things of the eternal, touch, rest and dwell amidst things temporal. People feel it but cannot explain it.
There may be a hint in the widely attested fact that the characteristic is most apparent in those churches where the Blessed Sacrament is habitually reserved and the Eucharist daily celebrated. There is nothing material about it, and those who become keenly aware of it declare that it is real because it is spiritual. So we may regard it as something bestowed, or a grace that deepens devotion and lifts the aspiring heart nearer to its goal.
St. George's is such a church, and in the fifty years of its existence many souls have found within its walls, not only a refuge, a comfort, and an uplifting, but have found, too, the deepest experience that religion can give and which cannot be formulated at all. Wherever the circumstances of life may since have taken them, and whatever experiences have since been theirs, we know that in their hearts and minds this church will be a church set in a secret chamber of profoundest memories. For them--
"Holy of Holies is this Place of Places.
Meetly held worthy of surpassing honour."
[St. Francis of Assisi]
Furthermore, just as a home, reflects the characters of the homemakers, so a church reveals the devotion of its worshipers. Its "sanctified antiquity" is measured, not in years, but in the lives of its lovers, and its history records the love and sacrifice of faithful souls in union with God's grace, rather than a tabulation of events and dates.
The keynote of our Jubilee rejoicings is therefore, gratitude, and can best be expressed in the words of Psalm 100--Jubilate Deo. O be joyful in the Lord; O go into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; Be thankful unto Him and speak good of His Name.
"It is a comely fashion to be glad --
Joy is the grace we say to God."
We are indeed grateful that we have been enabled so long to carry on and continue to enjoy the privileges and practice of the Catholic Religion in its fullness.
As pointed out in the narrative that follows, the history of St. George's is inseparable from the career of Canon Wise, who lifted the first Church of St. George from suburban obscurity to a leading position in what has come to be known as the Anglo-Catholic Movement in Australia. Under God, his influence extended far beyond the boundaries of his parish, and when he died in 1950, messages and references of a sympathetic nature came, not only from widely separated places in Australia, but from unexpected places abroad. His strong militant character commanded respect even where the things he stood for did not gain entire approval, and it came somewhat of a surprise to learn from distant places, no less from places nearer home, that his courageous and unyielding stand against injustice evoked deepest approval.
As the years pass, we become more and more mindful of the debt we owe to his steadfastness and his power to get things done. If we walk about the church and examine the many beautiful and unique things his devotion and generosity brought into it, or inspired others to give, we may realise how even physical objects speak to us of the inward invisible grace which was his, who being dead yet still speaks.
We remember too that were many others, who helped to make and maintain this church. A deep regret in compiling such a record as this is that it has been possible to mention so few names of the friends and benefactors. They too, have been generous, loyal and steadfast in prayer and devotion as in many other ways. The names of many of them are engraved on memorials in the church, and the ashes of some of them rest there. And then, there are the dear, quiet, regular and earnest folk, whole families of them at times, who are apt to be overlooked, but who are a real comfort to their parish priest and may be valued as true "living stones" of this edifice.
So our Jubilee year is a happy time of Remembrance and Feast of our Benefactors. O be joyful in God. Jubilate Deo!
Very ordinary people in humble circumstances built the very first Church of St. George Martyr at Goodwood. Among them were no deep purses, nor great possessions, but they were rich in their desire to have a place of their own to worship God and to take a responsible place in the work of the Church to which they belonged. Their faith in their ability to do this was amply rewarded.
Goodwood was essentially a working-class district, and in the days when the church was built, bore an aspect very different from that which it now wears. There were fewer houses and much vacant land, and the environs were entirely rural. To the south-west a remnant of the old Black Forest still remained. Between Goodwood and the eastern portion of Wayville, and between Goodwood west and the Bay Road, stretched bare paddocks mostly given up to grazing of horses and cattle, though some were still cropped. Millswood, King's Park and Unley Park were still producing crops of oats and wheat or being used as meadows. Beyond Cross Road were working mens' blocks, and after that open land extended as far as Cottonville Blocks. Then came farmland, now Colonel Light Gardens, as far as Springbank Road. On the western side of Goodwood Road, south of the Church, was Page's Estate, a vast grazing block, formerly a farm, reaching to Clarence Park. It is now entirely built over and is known as Millswood Estate. Clarence Park served only by a poor horse-tram service, was for the most part a scattered hamlet, but there lived some of the Church's most ardent supporters, and some of their descendants are still on the Vestry Roll.
The beginnings of St. George's were entirely Evangelical. Its infant days were closely connected with St. Luke's, Adelaide, where most of the Anglicans in Goodwood worshipped. This was not a very convenient arrangement. By 1880, however, a sufficient number of people had settled in the vicinity to make the erection of a church practicable. Meetings were called, and preliminary services were held at the home of a Mr. W. Bishop, whose residence was at the corner of Gilbert Street and Goodwood Road. The Rector of St. Luke's at that time was the Rev. F. R. Coghlan who warmly encouraged the proposal to erect a church in the district, and in the meantime did all he could to hold the little nucleus together and minister to their spiritual needs. Mr. W. J. England, who still worships at St. Luke's, remembers being taken when a small boy to a service under the almond trees in "Bishop's Garden".
A building site having been secured on the western side of Goodwood Road at the corner of Victoria Street, Bishop Short laid the foundation stone of a longed for church in 1881. The oversight of the parish was vested in St. Luke's. Three years later a change was made in this arrangement, and the Rev. W. S. Moore, formerly of Christ Church, O'Halloran Hill, worked the church from St. Mary's, South Road. Progress was made, and in 1895 the building was enlarged and the Bishop of Adelaide laid a second foundation stone. Thus old St. George's has two foundation stones.
Owing to failing health, Rev. W. S. Moore resigned the living on St. Mary's in September 1900. A special Vestry Meeting was called to consider the position. Bishop Harmer presided and on his advice it was agreed that St. George's should be temporarily attached to St. James, West Adelaide, together with the missions of Keswick and Plympton, and that the Rev. P.W.C. Wise be appointed Rector. Bishop Harmer instituted Father Wise on December 12th, 1900 and he officiated for the first time at St. George's on December 16th. The new Rector entered upon his duties with characteristic energy and a remarkable era of development dawned. He was then about 30 years of age.
As the history of St. George's is largely the history of the labours of Canon Wise, it may be well to recount here some of the salient facts of his career before he came to this Parish.
Percy William Charlton Wise was born at Plymouth in Devonshire on January 15th 1870. His father was a naval officer, and his mother was connected with the well-known County family, the Charltons of Charlton Hall. The boy's school days were spent at Clewer, near Windsor Castle, and no doubt the influence of that quiet place affected all his future outlook on life, for it has been described as a setting "known to all English Churchmen as a home of much that is best and saintliest in the Church of England."
It was taken for granted that young Wise would follow a naval career, but an incurable tendency to seasickness defeated that long cherished ambition. Bravely overcoming that disappointment, he chose as an alternative a medical course and for a year, he walked the wards of Guy's Hospital. But he was to learn that it was not within his province to choose a career; it was to be chosen for him by a Power he could not withstand.
A friend who shared his confidence and his love for the Faith "once delivered" was struck by his utter devotion, quick inner-perception and burning zeal for the Church, and was moved to declare that the young man's vocation was not for medicine, but for the priesthood. In a flash Wise knew this was true, and that the quiet promptings and longings he had known had been steadily leading him to such an end. If ever a man had a clear call to the service of God it was he. So strong was his conviction, that a change of plans was taken in a stride, and vigorous preparation for a life's work was begun. In those days, the sound custom prevailed of requiring candidates for Holy Orders to acquire a University Degree, and Cambridge had no more happy and sedulous student. He left his mark at Corpus Christi College. How he worked was evidenced by the fact that he held a College exhibition, and won the Greek Testament Prize, and ended with a second class in the Theological Tripos of 1893. How he played may be seen in his attainment of a position of runner-up in the lightweight boxing championship of the University.
The eager young postulant was ordained Deacon and Priest in successive years by the Bishop of Peterborough, Dr. Creighton. He was appointed to a curacy in Oundle, Northamptonshire. It was here that he received a telegram from Bishop Harmer inviting him to work under him in Adelaide, a place of which he had never heard, but he accepted, and arrived here in September 1895. In December he began his ministerial work at Christ Church, North Adelaide, where his preaching and keen parochial work soon marked him as a priest out of the ordinary. His reputation spread beyond the borders of the colony [as it then was] and he was called upon to conduct missions in Victoria and New South Wales and later in Hobart. He became Examining Chaplain for the Bishop of Adelaide in 1896, and carried on that Office until 1911.
From the very beginning of his career, Father Wise realised the importance of giving thorough religious instruction in an attractive form to young people. The catechism Classes at Christ Church, and at the Cathedral were remarkably successful. Immediately after his arrival in the diocese, and for more than two years after, he supplied to the "Church News" [the Diocesan precursor of the "Church Guardian"] a regular weekly column entitled. "Notes on Lessons for Sunday School Teachers". These notes were greatly valued by teachers, especially in the country parishes. It is noteworthy that when he was offered and accepted, the incumbency of Crafers, the Children of the Catechism, of the Day School, and of the large confirmation class, all insisted upon making presentations of their own, apart from the farewell gift of the congregation of Christ Church. That farewell gift, incidentally, was a horse-buggy for the use by Fr. and Mrs Wise in their scattered hills parish centred in the Church of the Epiphany, Crafers.
Bishop Harmer instituted Father Wise as Rector of Crafers on the morning of Quinquagesima Sunday, and he preached his first sermon in the evening. This appointment gave him sole charge of a parish for the first time. His customary ardour soon made itself felt in the organising of fresh activities and stimulating old ones. The debt of the Church was cleared, and on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1899, the Bishop consecrated the Church.
The Wises greatly enjoyed their period of service in the hills, which ended in 1900, when a trip abroad was mooted. To the consternation of all who knew them it was marked by tragedy. During the voyage Mrs Wise contracted a tropical disease, which rapidly proved fatal. She was buried at Manila, in the Philippine Islands. In 1905 Father Wise recovered his wife's body, and took it to England, where it was re-interred at St. Michael's Islington, Devon, on the border of Dartmoor, where she had been baptised, confirmed and married. The beautiful Crucifixion Group on the Rood Beam is in her memory.
The bereft husband courageously returned to South Australia determined to submerge his great personal sorrow in hard work, and how he worked! In later years he told how, before accepting the appointment to Goodwood, he came out to look over the proposed charge. The outside of the Church depressed him, and when he ventured inside his depression deepened. The interior was unadorned, but it had a unique feature--the floor sloped from the entrance down to the Altar, which was at the west end. Holy Communion was celebrated there monthly, and the number of regular communicants was a mere handful. Except that it was the House of God, there was nothing attractive about the place or its prospects. With something like a sinking heart, he knelt to pray. Almost at once he knew that it was a House of God and that he had almost despised it. Moreover, it presented a challenge, a difficult job of high enterprise such as he needed--to stir up and increase the congregation, to provide them with the Gifts of God more frequently and to gain their cooperative appreciation of the Faith he had been sent to teach. Before he had risen from his knees, he had accepted the position. The Catholic dawn had come to St. George's.
With characteristic energy the new Rector set about his difficult task. He understood that he could not change things by waving a wand, so he began with definite Church teaching and instruction of the sacramental side of our religion. His forceful preaching attracted wider and wider attention, and he was encouraged to brighten the services in various ways. He possessed a sensitive feeling for what is right and seemly in the accompaniments of worship. Sometimes he found that there were people who did not entirely agree with his taste. In this connection he told the writer of an incident which happened in the early days of his curacy at Oundle, when Bishop Creighton walked out from Peterborough to see how his young priest was getting on. After a chat they went together into the church and the curate proudly pointed out the 'improvement' he had made to the altar and its vicinity by the addition of some really good vases and other embellishments. Dr. Creighton was a man of tact, good humour and deep understanding of human nature. He gazed at the display silently for a minute or two, then nodded his head three times and quietly observed --"Yes, yes, some people make their altars like a dining room sideboard, but you have made yours like a drawing-room mantelpiece!" Only older people, who were acquainted with Victorian mantelpieces with their burden of bric-a-brac and ornaments, can fully appreciate that story. Needless to say the improvements speedily disappeared.
On Easter Day 1901, the men and boys of the choir first wore cassocks and surplices, and everybody appreciated the improvement. Mr. H. Spafford was choirmaster and Mrs. S. W. Bray, organist, and the efforts of these two, backed by Father Wise, produced a greatly improved rendering of the Liturgy. Towards the end of the year Mrs Bray resigned after a service of 14 years as organist. She died in 1918 after a brief illness, and the Rector referred to her as "a devout and regular worshipper at St. George's where by the sweetness of her disposition, she endeared herself to us all. It was a privilege to minister to her in her last hours, for she received the Sacraments of the Church with so eager and beautiful a faith". She was succeeded by Miss C. Hall, who later became Mrs. Spafford, and presided at the organ during the rest of Father Wise's incumbency and for some time after--over 40 years. The end of the year saw also the termination of the link with St. James. Attendances at Goodwood were rapidly increasing, and it became obvious that an enlargement of the church was necessary.
After much earnest discussion, plans for effectively enlarging the Church were decided upon. A large Sanctuary was to be established at the east end, and two large bays added to the southern side of the nave. Additional seating accommodation for 150 people would be provided by this scheme. The need of a pipe organ was also kept in view. So at the beginning of Lent 1902, in the very first "Messenger" ever printed, the Rector boldly asked for 1,000 pounds to help pay for these things, and announced that money received from the Lenten Self-Denial would be put towards the same purpose. Money came in freely, but in those days 1,000 pounds was a very large sum, and it soon became evident that the burden was heavier than the faithful could bear. So it was decided that 1,500 pounds should be borrowed for 10 years at 2%. However, a benefactor appeared in the person of Priscilla Simms, who later married Mr Harry Bickford, and her cheque [for a substantial amount], together with the cash already in hand, made the building of an entirely new church feasible.
No time was lost in getting Mr. T. H. Lyon, the Rector's brother-in-law, an English artist of no mean order, to prepare plans. When the preliminary sketches arrived they evoked general enthusiasm, and building operations began immediately. A leading master, Mr. W. C. Torode was engaged to erect the building. He had constructed the church at Crafers, and was engaged in building the towers of St. Peter's Cathedral. For personal reasons, the Rector wanted the new church dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, but owing to the nearness of Goodwood to Mitcham, the Bishop could not consent to this request. So the side Chapel within the Church, on the north of the Sanctuary received this dedication instead.
The laying of the foundation stone was to have been performed by the Acting Governor of South Australia on September 27, 1902, but owing to his absence from Adelaide on that date, His Excellency could only send his good wishes. However a Church Congress was meeting in Adelaide at the time, and His Grace, the Archbishop of Sydney and Primate of Australia, Dr. W. Saumarz Smith, performed the ceremony. The occasion was unique. In addition to the Primate, there were present the Bishops of Adelaide, Christchurch, N.Z., Tasmania, Newcastle, Melanesia and New Guinea, 80 priests and about 2,000 laity. The scene was colourful--the huge crowd of people, the large number of carriages, the boys of the Church Lad's Brigade with their bugle band, the clergy in their robes, the bishops with their scarlet, all made an unforgettable spectacle. More than 300 pounds was laid on the stone.
As it was decided that from its opening the new Church should be free and open, and in order that the approaching financial year should be begin as it was proposed to continue, pew rents were abolished as from March 31, 1903. A voluntary stipend fund took the place of pew rents, and was worked by the envelope system which is still in vogue.
The year 1903 was one of incredible activity. Early in 1902 the Rev. Frank A. Thorns, who had been a fellow-undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge with the Rector, came from England as a deacon-curate. He proved to be of great assistance, especially in the work among young people, but he was not very strong. He was ordained priest in December 1902. In the same month the Rector offered a title to Mr. T. P. Wood, then a student of St. Barnabas College but expecting to be made a Deacon at the self-same ceremony. This increase in staff was deemed necessary because on January 1, 1903, the Rev. A. G. B. West, Rector of St. Augustine's, Unley, left for a nine months' holiday in Europe, and handed over his charge to Father Wise. Some idea of the extent of the Rector's activities at this time may be gathered from the fact that he was responsible, not only for the working of the churches of Keswick and Plympton, Goodwood and Unley, but was also Special Preacher at the Cathedral, and under the terms of that appointment had to preach at least once each Sunday from Ash Wednesday to Christmas Day. Although assistants were appointed from time to time with the title of Catechist, the Rector always insisted upon conducting the Catechism Class at St. George's himself, and it grew to be a remarkable institution. He now arranged for it to meet a quarter of an hour earlier in order that he might reach the Cathedral by 4.00 o'clock to conduct the Catechism Class once every fortnight. His usual mode of getting around his scattered interest was by bicycle. In all this spate of activities, he never relaxed in his visitation of the sick, a ministry to which he gave particular attention. Should he hear that a member of his flock had been ill and he not notified, his remarks to the neglectful family would be anything but comforting.
Building activities on the new church proceeded apace, and it was finished free of debt so that the consecration could take place when it was ready for occupation. The great day for this solemn ceremony was Tuesday, September 1, 1903, a day which Father Wise described as "one of the most happy, and without exception, the most trying days of my life. From the wonderful service at 6.30 am in the old Church to the closing hymn of the Festal Evensong in the new, how glorious it all was, and how the day will live in all our memorise for years to come. It was an interesting sight to see the old Church filled in the early morning by those of us who had come to Feed on Christ, ere his Glorious Presence filled His new House".
The Consecration was performed by Bishop Harmer assisted by Dean Marryat, Archdeacon French and other members of the Dean and Chapter and 40 priests. His Excellency the Governor, Sir George Le Hunte was present, and by some miracle of arrangement, no less than 800 crowded into the sacred edifice. It was a moving occasion and the Rector afterwards wrote--"Can we think without a full heart of that profound silence, as eight hundred souls knelt at the feet of the Lamb of God come to claim His House and fill it with His Sacramental Presence. I feel I can never be grateful enough for all we have learnt together in the old Church, and which has prepared us for the service rendered with such exquisite reverence today. May God so fill us with the sense of His Divine Presence, that as the days go on, this House may never lose the power it possesses over us at present, as its beauty causes us to fall down and worship".
The late Canon Pymar Dodd, one of the most eloquent preachers this Diocese has known, preached an inspiring sermon. The Bishop rounded off a memorable day with a sermon at Evensong in which he pointed out the practical necessity of having a high ideal, both of our life of personal holiness, and in our life of worship.
One of the great acquisitions of the year was a pipe organ for the new church. This splendid instrument was procured from London, and before it left that city, prominent Belgian organist, Mons. Weigand, who spoke very highly of its virtues, gave three successful recitals on it. The organ has thirteen speaking stops, and is a two-manual instrument. Some of our leading musicians, including Mr J. M. Dunn of the Cathedral, Mr Hills of Glenelg and Mr Wallace Parker of Christ Church were glad to give recitals to help meet its cost.
A daily Eucharist was instituted after September 1st, the Ward of St. Agnes undertaking to see that there would be the number of Communicants present which the Rubric required. This has remained a valued feature of St. George's ever since, and everyone knows that such anniversaries as birthdays, confirmations, marriages, or days on which loved ones have passed away, can be observed by attendance at the Eucharist. People would not perhaps ask for a Celebration on such days, but gladly come when such is provided. As a comfort in sorrow or gladness alike, as a solace in loneliness or as an ever-deepening means of happy worship, this great privilege is constantly availed of by earnest souls.
Young people were well catered for at this time. A company of the Church Lads' Brigade, well led and expertly drilled, was a feature attractive to the youth of the district, whose martial footsteps frequently echoed through streets of Goodwood. A Gymnastic Class was also popular. There was the Bicycle Club that indulged in pleasant runs through the hills and to the beaches. Cricket, Football and Tennis Clubs also flourished, and there was a Literary and Debating Society. The Girls' Friendly Society did splendid work, especially in supporting Missionary efforts. The Mothers' Union was well represented, and there was also a Women's Guild [later to become the Guild of St. Mary of Bethany], which performed many useful tasks including sewing and Church embroidery work. The children were busily engaged in activities connected with the Catechism Class, which had become such a strong feature of Church work. There was, too, a Ministering Children's League that achieved surprising results. All these activities, and there were to be yet more, betokened a vitality of the Church body that must have been very gratifying to the Rector, who kept a tight grip on everything. Though important, these things were regarded as secondary, and anything that did not ultimately serve the welfare of the Church had no hope of surviving, never mind how dear it might be in the eyes of some good people.
Trouble came in the last quarter of the year, and even the Rector's super-human energy was put to the test, when The Rev. T. P. Wood broke a leg, which did not mend well and had to be re-set, so that he found it expedient to resign. The Rev. F. A. Thorns, after two years devoted work, was transferred to St. Peter's, Glenelg as Assistant Priest, The Rev. H. A. Meaden succeeding him at St. George's.
Full Eucharistic vestments were worn for the first time at a Celebration on Easter Day, 1904. A cope was also made by the ladies of the Guild and was worn in June at the dedication of the beautiful Triptych in the Lady Chapel, which was designed by Mr. T. H. Lyon and carved in England. The many votive pictures we see about the Church are in frames also designed by Mr. Lyon.
In July the Assistant Curate, the Rev. H. A. Meaden left to continue his studies at St. John's College, Oxford. His departure resulted in the Rev. F. A. Thorns coming from Glenelg. However, because of continued illness, he left for England in September.. This fine priest had done excellent work in the parish and at Keswick.
In August, the Rector was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral, and in acknowledging the congratulations of his people, he declared that he regarded the honour as St. George's and his own only as their representative. Meanwhile he had to carry on the work single-handed. This fact did not deter him from pushing on with fresh plans for the development of the Church. In the original plans of the building a tower was included, and it is interesting today to read in the "Messenger" of October 1904, that an honorary secretary had been appointed to receive donations, and that half the offerings received at the daily Mass would be given to the Tower Fund and half to the Melanesian Mission. Nothing daunted this indefatigable Rector.
About Christmas time the services of the Rev. A.N. Garrett were obtained, and the Rector at last saw his way clear to take a long projected trip to England. He left at the end of January 1905 after four years strenuous unremitting work on a richly deserved holiday. He had not only achieved a priest's happiest accomplishment--the leading of a great people to an appreciation of the Catholic Faith--but an entirely new Church had been built and furnished. Such an attainment in four brief years was unprecedented in this diocese.
The chief reason for this Rector's trip was to remove his wife's body from its temporary resting place in Manila and re-inter it in England. During his absence he wrote long letters to his parishioners and apprised them of his doings. In his first letter, written on board the ship, is this revealing passage "As I have already told you, the secret of your power is your enthusiasm--it is rooted and grounded in Christ and His Holy Church. We have made mistakes, bad ones sometimes, but we have done something, and, if we are only true, God will allow us to do much more. Looking at you all, and your work, as I do from a distance, I want to impress two things on you; first, that of harmony, as to always prevail we must remember that we have one Master even Christ, and that is for Him and His glory we work; and secondly, that we must accept the whole discipline of His Church. There must be more fasting, more confession, more self-sacrifice, mere of the hardness as we secure more ritual and firmer grasp of the Faith."
The news of the translation of Bishop Harmer to Rochester reached him after he had reached Hong King, and it was something of a shock. He felt it was a critical time for the Diocese, and also for St. George's, and expressed the sincere hope that Synod would not delegate its authority but would, relying on God's Holy Spirit, elect a Bishop, with no bias either for Australia or England, endeavouring to secure the very best man wherever he be. Enjoining on his people the importance of unswerving loyalty to the Faith as they had learnt it, he added prophetically--"We may, only God knows, have difficulties ahead of us. I have often told you that I wonder how long the pleasant calm of our life at St. George's would last, and whether God is not thereby preparing us for some trial of our faith ahead."
During this stay in England, Canon Wise visited many churches where the Catholic Faith in belief and practice was regularly presented. Some of these churches were in the slums of London, where he found the devotion of the worshippers deep and sincere. The use of incense, processional lights, genuflecting, the making of the sign of the cross at appropriate places in the services, and other manual acts greatly impressed him as aids to worship, and he gave notice that these things would be observed at St. George's after his return.
By the time the Rector returned, a small house had been obtained as a temporary Rectory, and for this he was deeply grateful, as it was more convenient for him to live at Goodwood. Previously he had lived at North Adelaide, North Unley, and Keswick, and this had entailed much loss of time in travelling.
In the year 1906 the first serious criticisms of practices at St. George's were made. There had been milder attacks when the side chapels had been dedicated, one to our Lady and the other to St. Michael, some ignorant people imagining that when a chapel was so dedicated, the Saint's name was necessarily worshipped there. The worship of Saints is forbidden in the Church of England.
The encouragement of private confession to Almighty God in the presences of a priest was also frowned upon. When, therefore, vestments, incense, the use of the sign of the cross, and genuflecting at the "Incarnatus" were introduced, the flare-up in the daily press became more marked. Except to reassure his congregation to bid them to be true to their great heritage in the Faith, Father Wise refused to have anything to do with the stubborn prejudice that misjudged him and the things he stood for, so he concentrated more rigidly upon his multifarious duties and declined to read the daily papers. The trouble then [and later, too] was that misunderstanding, want of knowledge, and deep seated prejudice bequeathed by an earlier and narrow minded age, were taken notice of, while the superb achievements of the Church of God by a loyal and devoted priest were entirely ignored, and the plain facts of the Catholic tradition cast aside.
One thing, which was frequently made, cut him very deeply, and this was the absurd accusation that he was disloyal to the Church of England. He was an extremely sensitive man, and where his loyalty to the Church was concerned, was almost a fanatic. No cruel treatment, evil misrepresentation or ostracism ever affected his loving allegiance; it was the very core of his being. His attitude to the Church and of his office of priest was admirably summed up in a letter he wrote from Canterbury to his flock after he celebrated Mass in the Church of St Martin, the oldest church in England. "In this very church, St. Augustine baptised, among many others, King Ethelbert, in the old Font standing today by the western entrance. Here he preached the Faith 'once delivered to the Saints'--here he celebrated Mass, using the place where the holy vessels were cleansed, the very piscina now shown as the oldest in England by the Altar of St,. Nicholas; and here Bertha, Ethelbert's Queen, lies buried in the Church she founded, built and maintained in the days before Augustine came to Britain. As I stood and said the Creed within those hallowed walls, and these great ones and others came before my mind, it was so wonderful, I thanked God that I am a priest, and that He has set me in this glorious Church of England, the Mother of us all, and I prayed that I may be ever true to the Catholic Faith which the Church of England holds." From that standpoint he never wavered.
The most important event in 1907 was the building of our own Rectory. Exactly five years after the Foundation Stone of the Church was laid, Bishop Thomas blessed the new building, and the Rector was finally on the spot to discharge his duties.
Despite difficulties in the matter of assistance, good progress was made. During the year ended 31st March, the number of Acts of Communion totalled 6,334, an increase of 1000 over the previous year.
From the beginning of his association with St. George's, Fr. Wise encouraged people to reverence the Altar whenever they entered or left the Church, and most people did so. Deeper significance was added to this act when the Altar and Tabernacle of the Blyth Memorial Chapel, which was under the High Alter, were consecrated in 1908. The Chapel was used for celebrations of the Holy Mysteries and for the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament used for the administering to the sick and dying. In accordance with the expressed wish of the Bishop, the chapel was not used for celebrations, and was kept locked. A memorial stone in the Chapel bore the inscription--"We pray you remember the Presence, Arthur Blyth, Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, Commander of the Order of the Bath, Premier of this State, who entered into rest on December 7, 1891. To whose dear memory, his daughter dedicates this Chapel and its ornaments". When alterations were later made to the Sanctuary and the floor raised, it was possible to considerably enlarge the Chantry for a priest's vestry, and the Blessed Sacrament was thereafter reserved in the locked Tabernacle on the High Altar.
Father Wise had many tempting offers of good livings in England, but he was not prepared to give up the good work he had initiated in Goodwood. One offer, however, moved him to such an extent that he thought he ought to consult his people on the matter and leave them, after prayer and the pleading with the special intention the Holy Sacrifice, to decide the issue. He announced his plan and called for a full congregation at Evensong. There was great consternation at the thought of losing their beloved Rector, and a crowded awaited his pronouncement. He put the position fairly. The call came from a church in Poplar made famous by the great Father Dolling, who had always been admired by him as a stalwart of the Catholic Movement. It was a well-established and competently organised parish, and there would be four priests on the staff under him. He admitted the temptation to go, as it offered a wide range of enterprise in the service of the Faith, and he was in the prime of life and felt capable of giving satisfaction in the position offered. The Litany of the Holy Ghost was sung and the people asked to pray for guidance. An adjoinment was made to the Church Hall, and the question was put whether the Rector should go or stay. The voting, of course, was that he should stay--hearts more than heads prevailing. One later realises that it was a selfish vote. Had the Rector gone to England then, there is no doubt that he would have had a distinguished career in the Church there. As it later turned out, he would have been spared much worry and suffering.
A resolution passed on July 17, 1910 read: "We the people of St. George's, after prayer and the offering of the Holy Eucharist for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, are convinced that it is our duty, for the sake of the Catholic faith, to request our Priest to remain and continue his work among us, and we pledge ourselves to support by Prayer and Almsgiving the special work of our church in supplying Catholic clergy for the dices." This resolution greatly pleased the Rector, and he accepted without a murmur or regret the decision of his people. Faithfully he kept his part of the compact, but did his people keep theirs?
For many years, the Angelus was rung at St. George's at 6.00 am, midday and 6.00 pm. During the war years 1914-1918 its special intention was for soldiers and sailors. As many Goodwood young fellows had enlisted, and many of these made the supreme sacrifice, this constant reminder by the bell was appreciated by people other than Church folk.
The training of postulants for the priesthood became the outstanding effort of our congregation, and Ember pennies were devoted to defraying the considerable expenses that the scheme demanded. People were asked to give at least a penny for every fasting day and Saint's day in the Calendar. Though substantial donations were made from time to time, the regular pennies were the mainstay of the fund. At one time, there were as many as five beneficiaries partaking of this bounty, though the usual number was three. It was held that to provide the diocese with students who had had a sound Catholic training was a high privilege and duty, and the Ember Pennies became a matter of deep concern.
However, misunderstanding and drastic criticism based thereon, caused a break with authority, and despite earnest attempts at conciliation, the unfortunate breach continued and it was decreed that no more of our candidates would be admitted to St. Barnabas College. One student was sent to a training college in another State, and another to Litchfield, England. Unfair treatment and the favouring of extreme Protestant views, eventually killed the effort, and St. George's became isolated in a position that called for many years of patient waiting, before a more tolerant generation arose, and saw the folly of useless obstruction. Let it be said that some apologies have since been made, but they could not mend broken hearts, nor give back the years of thwarted enthusiasm.
For the past twelve years of his incumbency, Father Wise took no salary for his service in the parish. He had by inheritance acquired sufficient money to purchase an annuity, which allowed him to live very modestly "of his own". His long years of faithful stewardship at St. George's often had been difficult and stormy, but he also claimed that they had likewise included the happiest day of his life; he felt that in gratitude to God for that happiness he should still give generously to the Church he loved with all he had to give--himself.
Upon one occasion he expressed his feeling thus: "There is just one thing that no one can deprive one of, and that is the joy of being the founder of the present Church of St. George, the Martyr, Goodwood. Whatever they may do in the years to come in the way of the advancement of the Catholic religion, there are few things that can be done that we have not started together. It is given to few men to be pioneers. Most of us have to carry on what our predecessors have left, but you and I, started St. George's--and there are not many of us left--will always be pioneers of the Catholic Movement in the Church of England in Goodwood, and it is, I assure you, a very good thing to be. They will come and do far better and far greater things that we have ever done, but no one can usurp our position, and I venture to think that when many have been forgotten we shall be remembered."
As the years passed, the Rector, deprived of the privilege of clerical assistance, became more and more isolated within the borders of his own parish, but did not become parochial. Far form it. He concentrated his attention upon teaching young and old the fundamentals of the Catholic Faith, and never wavered in the uncompromising attitude into which he had grown. Those who said he was a man of one theme were right, in that his emphasis always was upon the Sacramental side of the Faith. The availability, through the Church, of the Source of all help, the path of penitence and discipline, the gracious prevenience of Him who first loved us, these with endless variations, were the subjects upon which he exercised all his powers of eloquent appeal. None who ventured to listen went away empty, whether there was agreement with what was heard or not.
Inevitably, overwork and the strain of ploughing a lonely furrow, along with failing health, took toll of a wonderfully tough constitution. There were one or two warning breaks, but determination to see the thing through, prevented any premature lowering of the flag. However, the hospital claimed him at last, and the services of a young priest of the Willochra diocese [who became his successor] was secured to help Father Wise through the remaining months of his pastorate. Quite a number of worshippers at St. George's had grown old along with their Rector; they had known him as a young man, when they too were young, achieveing prodigies of valiant service, and it irked them sorely to find him beset with the bodily weaknesses of old age. He had been so long their priest, confessor and very good friend, that they felt that they should do something big in the way of a farewell, but he would not allow it, accepting only a mere token of their love and affection which he knew were deep and lasting. So at age 70 he retired quietly. When the 1939-45 war ended, he visit England twice, and on his return from the second visit, planned to live with Mr. Gilbert Roach, an almost life-long friend and former altar server at St. George's. However, the arrangement only lasted a few days, when on August 13, 1950 he died suddenly.
Rather, we should say he entered into the peace, all feuds ended, all scars healed. The splendour of his achievements swept away forever the traces of the obstructions that had been withstood and overcome. How shallow, how petty and mean those things seem to be in retrospect! Above them and their sponsors the record of Canon Wise rises like a well-buttressed tower into heights they could never know. He was most of all what he strove to be, a faithful Priest to us his people, in whose hearts he forever has a place.