Project Canterbury

All Saints' Church, Brisbane 1862-1937

By D. L. Kissick, B.A.

Brisbane: Published by All Saints' Parish, 1937.

The Rev. R. B. Bates, M.A.

In parting Father Maynard told the congregation that they had special cause for gratitude in that they had secured the Rev. R. B. Bates as his successor, for Canon Hughes, of St. Peter's, Melbourne, had described him as "Quite one of the best I have come across." All the previous rectors had been Englishmen but now, at last, an Australian had been chosen to fill the vacancy in this important parish, signifying, perhaps, that this continent after so many years was proving no longer to lag behind England in Catholicity.

The Rev. R. B. Bates began his training for the priesthood at St. John's College, Melbourne, but at the outbreak of the war, enlisted and, after serving at Gallipoli and in France, being awarded the Military Medal and bar and being severely wounded, entered Merton College, Oxford. After obtaining honours in theology there, he completed his training at Cuddesdon College and in 1922, became curate at St. Andrew's, Bethnal Green, a large slum parish in the heart of London. In 1924 he returned to Australia to become vicar of Copmanhurst and two years later was made warden of the Bush Brotherhood of Our Saviour, Diocese of Grafton, having" his headquarters at Copmanhurst. From there he came to All Saints' and was inducted as the Rector of the Church and Parish on December 10th, 1926.

Being convinced that the Church in Australia was hindered in its advance by the lack of Religious Communities, it was his desire to found both Men's and Women's Communities based on the order of St. Francis. He began with a nucleus of three women who, after living under a rule for two years, were professed in 1930. Their chief work was to be the care of the poor, sick and aged and to this end St. Clare's House of Rest was begun in Boundary St., Spring Hill, in September, 1928. Soon after it was moved to a larger house in the same street, but in 1931 it was found necessary to move to a still larger one in Wickham Terrace, and on this occasion, the Archbishop wrote: "The rector of All Saints' has done a really constructive piece of work in the establishment of St. Clare's House of Rest. It began in a small way in a little house in Spring Hill, in which it was possible to receive three old ladies. This afternoon I am to open a large and commodious house in which it will be possible to receive thirty-two. The need for something like this has been great for several years."

At the opening the Archbishop said: "Father Bates has done two really constructive pieces of work. He has founded, with the entire goodwill of the Sisterhood of the Sacred Advent, a sisterhood called by the name of the Daughters of St. Clare, and he has established a home not an institution but a home in which old ladies can be rendered happy and kept free from grinding anxiety in the evening of their lives. In these days when people complain much that things are not better, and insistently proclaim that something must be done, he has quietly and unostentatiously done two big things. If there are any people left who say that rectors of churches like All Saints' attend only to ritual and multiplication of services, they would be well advised to think well before they commit themselves to any such statement. These two things for which Father Bates is responsible will be, I fully expect, enduring things." The newspapers reported that: "The Archbishop gave deserved praise to the Rev. R. B. Bates for his zeal in this branch of social service." St. Clare's House of Rest was removed from Wickham Terrace to its permanent home in Taringa in 1936.

In 1929, the Rev. R. B. Bates went to England to study the religious communities there and, in 1930, at his instigation, three women went to England to be trained as contemplatives with a view of returning to Australia to found a similar community but, up to the present, conditions have not been opportune for their return. The Rev. R. B. Bates has not yet been able to realise his vision of founding a Franciscan Community for Men, but in 1932 he opened St. John's House of Rest for Aged Men, and in 1934 St. Christopher's Lodge for Boys. He is hoping later to found a Home for Infants on a piece of land purchased for that purpose adjoining St. Christopher's Lodge at Brookfield he has consistently refused to take any credit to himself or these humanitarian works although through his deep compassion for the weak and suffering he has spent untiringly of his time, his energies and his money, even to the detriment of his health, in giving to the diocese these facilities for Christian service in which it was previously so sadly lacking.

In the parish itself the Rev. R. B. Bates on his arrival first set himself to provide for the spiritual needs of the parishioners proper of All Saints'--those people living on Spring Hill. He obtained permission from the Archbishop to revive the custom of All Saints' having its own Good Friday Procession within the parish instead of as part of the Cathedral procession as had become habitual in the last few years. In April, 1927, he purchased for £1025 a house and a small allotment of land in Boundary St., part of the old Leichhardt St. Church Schools property, and had the building altered so that is would be suitable for Church services. This was opened and dedicated by Archbishop Sharp on July 17th, 1927, and he wrote in the "Chronicle": "Few things have given me greater pleasure than the opening of All Saints' Mission Hall of St. Francis of Assisi, in Spring Hill. A house has been procured, which has been transformed into a mission hall to seat about eighty people. This had been furnished with a very handsome altar and it will be used for mission services every Sunday night and for Sunday School and for other purposes. There is a dispensary in connection with the mission and Dr. Williams, a lady doctor, who lives on the premises, will give herself to work mainly among the women and children of the district.

The altar of silky oak was copied from the one which Father Maynard designed for St. Alban's, Auchenflower, and incorporated in it as a mensa is the marble slab which was probably the mensa of the altar used in All Saints' from 1862 to 1871, for this slab was kept under the altar given by the Rev. T. Jones until its removal to the Lady Chapel, from which date it lay under the High Altar. The beautiful altar ornaments, consisting of a silver crucifix and six large candlesticks to match, were given by the rector and a friend. The Rev. R. B. Bates with the aid of donations from friends, bore the financial burden of the Mission until 1931 when it was taken over by the churchwardens, the Rector, however, continuing to donate £100 per annum towards its expenses, and in 1933 the property was transferred to All Saints' trustees. Soon after the Mission was opened, a week day Mass was begun, with an additional children's Mass during Lent. A few years ago a tea meeting to precede the Sunday evening service was inaugurated and has proved a very effective method of drawing the residents of Spring Hill into the fellowship of Church life. The added duties of the mission and the three homes made the parish work so arduous that it was found impossible for the two priests to cope with it, and, the financial resources not allowing of a greater staff, two extra clergy were added but the four then, in valiant self-sacrifice, were content to share the two stipends in order that the very necessary work might not be left undone. The curates during the Rev. R. B. Bates' rectorship have been the Rev. R. O. S. Free, H. Philpotts, A. J. Petford, G. A. L. Peters, A. G. Thompson, A. L. Sharwood. R. E. McQuie, J. G. Johnston, R. L. P. Jones, A. E. Palmer, and R. S. Campbell.

At his first Easter meeting in 1927 the Rector attacked the habit of holding annual bazaars to raise funds for the normal yearly expenses although he conceded that they might be allowable for extensions and improvements. "We shall never feel really happy until such time as All Saints' expenses are paid for by direct giving." It was nine years before the parish reached the ideal thus set before it, the last fete being held in 1934.

In the Easter report of 1937, the Rector commented on the progress that direct giving had made in the following, words: "In presenting my eleventh annual report, I do so with thanksgiving that the Church of All Saints has stood in the City of Brisbane for seventy-five years witnessing to the Catholic Faith.... The privileges which we receive through our grand old church with its beautiful services mean grave responsibilities to the priests and to each member of the congregation. Unless we are growing, in Christlikeness and accepting these responsibilities in the right spirit, all our privileges are useless.

While we are attending to the material things we sometimes forget the spiritual. I feel compelled to warn you about one of the means of grace which God has given us to lead us nearer to Him. It is the Grace of Almsgiving. I am not thinking of money alone but of all the gifts which God gives us. Unless we are using them to His glory they will soon become worthless and the spiritual life of the individual and of the Church will suffer. Money serves as a good illustration of the way many of us are using His gifts. We deceive ourselves when we give to please others, to receive the praise of men, we deceive ourselves when we give out of self-respect. We deceive ourselves when we give grudgingly. Christian almsgiving is not a question of amounts, it is the spirit of almsgiving that matters, because it is the expression of the individual. As in the case of the widow and her two mites, the more it costs the richer becomes the soul of the giver. There is no virtue in giving sixpence weekly to the Church when by going short of something we could give a shilling.

A gift easily given means nothing.... I am hopeful for the future of the parish. I believe we shall soon have a real fellowship of willing givers, which will not only remove most of our difficulties but will be of much spiritual benefit to us as individuals, and as a parish. To be an intimate sharer in such a fellowship of giving at All Saints' will mean that our giving shall be guided chiefly because we have caught a vision of Jesus giving Himself and we want to be like Him."

The Rev. R. B. Bates though he has not materially altered the services and customs of All Saints' has striven, while retaining the Catholic character of the parish, to deepen its spiritual life and to heighten individual piety, with what success these excerpts from the Easter reports will show.

"In concluding my report I direct your attention to the Gospel for the week. It is rather beautiful to think of our annual meeting taking place when we have just had the wonderful Gospel of the Good Shepherd. I especially draw your attention to the desire our Lord expressed there for unity among his followers, and I take it we must apply this unity not only to the fold of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, but also to the flock in this parish. He draws our attention to the fact that hirelings come in occasionally and destroy the peace of the fold and, quite obviously, hirelings do come into our parishes and destroy the unity there. 'I trust that during the coming year we shall remember that there is One Shepherd and one fold, so that we may all be drawn together in unity. The sectional element which destroys unity must be broken down. The love of God cannot work in the individual soul, or in the congregation if there is division, so I sincerely hope that we shall all be led by God's Holy Spirit to that oneness in Him which He desires. I am quite sure you will all agree with me that when people come to All Saints', if they do see unity, if they do feel the welcome which should be extended to every newcomer, much will be done to increase our regular congregations. God bless you all during the coming year."

"I believe that plainsong is best for congregational singing. We do not come to church to listen to music but to worship God, and since music is an aid to worship, we must take an active part in it. For some years this has been impossible at All Saints', so I have decided to give the congregation an opportunity of taking an intelligent part in the services of the church."

"More and more the church is being used for private prayer and devotion to our Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament. It is this and the missionary spirit which mark the increasing spiritual vitality of the parish. I trust that they will be further developed during the year, and that in Jesus Christ we shall all learn to love one another."

"There has been a large increase in the number of communions made during the year. This has been most marked during the latter part of the year. Not only have the number of communions increased, but our people are growing to understand the necessity of proper preparation for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament by fasting and frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance. There are still some who like the pretties of religion but refuse the discipline of the Catholic Faith; both of these are helpful but whereas the former affect our emotions the latter acting on our will helps to build our character in the likeness of Him Who is our Saviour."

"A Ward of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ has recently been started in the parish. It is known as the Ward of the Love of God. As it is the first in this State all members of the Confraternity in Queensland are on our roll until such time as wards are started in other centres. As the chief act of our worship is through the offering of Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, it is to be hoped that the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament will help us to love and honour our Lord in the most Holy Sacrament."

"As the artists of old used their gifts to the Glory of God and also for the instruction and enlightenment of God's children so Miss Daphne Mayo has given us a very fine set of Stations of the Cross. Pictures in the church are like windows into Heaven, so the stations help us to see and enter into the Passion of our Saviour; if they fail to do this they become merely works of art. The service known as the Devotion of the Stations of the Cross is to help people to meditate on the Passion of our Redeemer. Meditations on the sufferings of Jesus help us to know God, better and give us a deeper sense of sin, both of which are essential to the Christian. The Stations of the Cross ought to have the effect of deepening the spiritual life so it is to be hoped that people will use them frequently, it is just as helpful to use them privately, at any time of the day, as to attend a conducted service."

"In presenting my tenth annual report I do so with thanksgiving to Almighty God that by His Grace the congregations have kept up, and the number of Sacraments administered is well above the average. This is very largely due to increased devotion to Jesus in the Holy Sacrament. The Altar of Repose on Maundy Thursday, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament with its regular meetings, the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament are all helping to bring us closer to Jesus. It is an undoubted fact that where Jesus is known and loved in the Holy Sacrament people are drawn to Him and also to love their fellowmen. There seems a decided increase in this parish of those who love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar; may we look forward during the coming year to a larger number of our people seeking Him in others. It is because so many of us fail in the latter, that we fall short of our ideals in the spiritual life:

I am afraid there is a tendency with some of our people to attend church only once every Sunday. It may be true that we have been present at Mass, which is, of course, the duty of every Christian but I cannot really believe that All Saints' people just want to give our Lord the bare minimum of worship--to offer Him the least when He has given His all for each of us. I am aware that some priests give the impression to their people that all is well if they are present at Church once every Sunday, but I entirely disagree with them, and I would go so far as to say that they are leading people astray. I am not speaking of Sunday sport which can easily be fitted in between services, but the New Testament makes it quite clear that Sunday was regarded by the early Christians as sacred. It is the Easter Day of each week. To give up going to Church more than once on Sundays is to sink to the level of the world which means that soon we shall become indifferent and not go at all. I trust you will all do your best to be present at Mass and Evensong every Sunday and so keep it with the same sacredness as the Christian Church in New Testament times."

In striking comparison with the appeals of Canon Robinson to his parishioners that they should make the reception of the Holy Communion at least once a month their, rule of life, and with a later remark when a Daily Eucharist was first instituted that it would give the faithful an opportunity of communicating on the important festivals,of their lives, is the teaching of the Rev. R. B. Bates on the necessity of frequent attendance at Mass and on regular and frequent communions. "The Holy Sacrifice is the offering not only of the officiating priest but of the whole Church, and that is why there must always be a server or one other person to "answer" the Mass. The offering of the Holy Sacrifice, the pleading of Calvary, glorifies God, and edifies the whole family of His children on earth, in Paradise and in Heaven. The daily Mass is the priest's daily function, as a soldier's daily job is to do his drills, and the dustman's to collect the refuse. To assist at Mass is, next to receiving Holy Communion, the layman's highest privilege and the ideal course is the combination of both. Why then is it that people do not come at least one week day morning as well as Sunday in each week?"

In 1930, deeming that the "Church Chronicle" was allowing room in its columns for every "ism" except Catholicism, the Rector forbade its circulation in the parish and the same year he wrote and preached outspokenly against some of the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference of that year. Throughout 1931 and 1932 he threw his boundless energy into the preparation for the fitting celebration of the Oxford Movement Centenary and of the pageant play, "To the Glory of God," which in Brisbane marked this anniversary. Its final scene in which he arrayed in a cope, mounted to an altar furnished with the ornaments from the St. Francis' Mission Altar, well typified the way in which All Saints' parish had gloriously and faithfulIy kept the ideals of the Oxford Movement ever before the populace of this young country.

In 1930 a faculty was obtained for the placing of a statue of our Lady and the Holy Child in the Church, the following year the Ward of St. Mary gave a beautiful marble one by a well-known sculptor and it was placed in the south-west corner of the church.

During these two years a scheme was in hand for obtaining a really good set of Stations of the Cross in memory of Annie Weiss and other faithful departed, and Miss Daphne Mayo was commissioned to carry out the work. The stations, in white bas-relief against blue skies, were placed in position in 1935 and were blessed by Archbishop Wand in July of that year. In 1935, too, on Maundy Thursday, the Altar of Repose was for the first time placed in Church and a watch kept before the Blessed Sacrament from the Mass of Maundy Thursday until the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday, This had been made possible by the formation of a branch of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, known as the Ward of the Love of God, in the December of the previous year.

As a means of deepening the spiritual life of the parish, a mission conducted by the Church Army was held in 1932 and one conducted by two members of the Community of the Ascension in 1933. Modern music was abandoned in favour of plainsong in 1932 and at the same time membership of the choir became voluntary instead of paid.

The social needs of the young people were catered for by a Dramatic Society, a Guide Company, a Brownie Pack and a Cub and Scout troop though later the boys became incorporated in the order of the Fiery Cross (as, contrary to the definite rules laid down by Sir Robert Baden-Powell in "Scouting for Boys," an attempt was being made in Queensland to relegate the practice of the Catholic religion to the background of the Scout Movement, Anglican chaplains being told they were "to be seen and not heard") and when entertainments in aid of parochial funds were abolished, a monthly parish social was instituted.

As for the fabric of the Church, it was found necessary to paint the interior in 1929 and again in 1934, while in 1933 it had to be refloored and the outside walls repointed. In 1934 a stone wall, the gift of the Rector and the Brisbane Franciscan communities, replaced the old wooden fence and in this year, 1937, two pairs of silky oak doors have been placed at the west end of the church while the Sewing Guild paid for the floor to be stained and polished.

In 1933 the diocese was saddened by the death of the saintly Archbishop Sharp and it was felt very much by the parish as he had been a very real friend to it throughout his episcopate. He loved All Saints' and its services and, as our rector said, "Gerald Sharp, our beloved Archbishop was a big-souled man in every way; he was Christlike and no greater tribute can be paid to any man than to say he was like Jesus. All Saints' had a staunch friend in our late Archbishop. He loved to come into the church during the week and kneel in silent prayer to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and, whenever he had a Sunday free, to come quietly in as a member of the congregation."

"Our beloved Archbishop Gerald Sharp passed on to Paradise, May God grant him eternal peace and rest, is the little prayer which has gone up from the hearts of all who knew and loved him. The inadequacy of human language to express the deepest thoughts and tenderest emotions of the heart and the human mind is realised when attempting to describe the life and work of our much-loved Pastor who is now nearer the Presence of our Saviour. The Archbishop was the embodiment of Christian love, and the true exponent of the truth that 'Love never faileth.' The great divisions of our Church upon earth were swept away by the great love men had for him. The Roman Catholic Archbishop, Nonconformist Ministers and the Jewish Rabbi knelt side by side in our Cathedral as children of God. This unity was achieved by the magnetic love which emanated from Him and worked through His earthly instrument--a true successor of the Apostles whom He first called to be a missionary Bishop in New Guinea, and since 1921, Archbishop of Brisbane and Metropolitan of the Province of Queensland.

We shall miss him, but nobody more than the clergy of this diocese, to whom he was a real Father in God. The secret of his beautiful character was prayer and the Sacraments. He loved and worshipped Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar: it was from this Source that he drew his strength to be the tender Shepherd-like guide to souls in the Sacrament of Penance. Truly great as the work of our dear Archbishop was here on earth, we know that it shall be greater in Paradise, where he shall pray for us and we for him."

December 10th, 1936, marked the tenth anniversary of the rectorship of the Rev. R. B. Bates under whose care the parish has made such progress, especially in spiritual matters. It was planned that at the December social he should be publicly thanked for his work but such was his modesty that he disappeared for the evening.

1937 has brought us to the seventy-fifth anniversary of the opening of All Saints' Church; the actual date, February 23rd being marked by solemn Evensong at which Archbishop Wand was the preacher. In his sermon on this anniversary he made mention of the religious atmosphere which had been created within the walls of the Church, so old a building, by the prayers of each succeeding generation of the faithful and urged upon the congregation the necessity of still further deepening this by more prayer's and attendance at the Holy Sacrifice. It is hoped to mark this important anniversary by the installation of a new High Altar in memory of Archbishop Sharp, Canon Jones and others, and 'When that work is completed there will remain but one major alteration to complete the church for the fitting celebration of the Holy Mysteries'--namely the enlargement of the sanctuary.

Surely we who have benefited so greatly by the self sacrificing labours and gifts of the preceding generations can make this the way by which we may show our appreciation of the past, and our solicitude for the future, worshippers in our beloved CHURCH OF ALL SAINTS.

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