Mission Work at S. Mary's
IN a parish like S. Mary's, situated for the most part in the immediate neighbourhood of the Docks, and therefore necessarily having a large seafaring population, there is, of course, a number of sailors' lodging-houses; these now have to be under licence, but it was not so at the time that Father Jones became Vicar, and there were many very disreputable houses in the parish. Mission work in such a parish needed special organization and devoted workers. These were found in the Sisters belonging to S. Margaret's, East Grinstead, who accepted the Vicar's invitation to take up work in the parish. Father Jones has himself left an account of the beginning of the Sisters' work at S. Mary's, for which we are indebted to the Mother Superior, who was herself for some years one of the Sisters at Cardiff, having charge of the Girls' School near the church in North Church Street.
To see any real work done for the glory of God and the good of souls we must be in the midst of it ourselves, otherwise we cannot understand the obstacles to be overcome, the hindrances to be met with, the material to be worked upon, the appliances to be used, or, as too often is the case, the want of appliances and means to carry out the objects of the workers. It has been said that a real work cannot be shown or seen, and so it really seems to be with that of the good Sisters at St. Mary's, Cardiff. You must be in the swing of the work, if you wish to understand it and know it.
At a Ruridecanal Chapter of Llandaff some time before the Sisters commenced work at St. Mary's, Cardiff, a paper was read on Sisterhoods. The reader was in favour of Sisters and their work, and the clergy of the Chapter decidedly inclined to admire the latter. One or two were much in favour of Sisters working in a parish, provided they did not wear a "distinctive dress." This, it was thought, would give such offence that it would hinder their work, and in fact make it undesirable they should so appear in any parish such as we have in this part of Wales. I fear the writer of this article said to himself (but not to the Chapter), "We will have Sisters before long, distinctive dress and all." Shortly afterwards the Rev. Mother Superior of S. Margaret's, East Grinstead, consented to send two or three Sisters to act as mission workers at S. Mary's, Cardiff, and in the year 1873 three Sisters arrived. They took up their abode at first in an upper story of a house in Bute Street, and soon after moved to a poor little house in Maria Street, and after that to the house they now live in, No. i, North Church Street. Some said the Vicar meant to insult the parishioners by bringing Sisters into the parish--a patent insult to the Protestants--whereas really the Vicar had no idea of insulting any, Protestant or otherwise; but had they said that the Vicar wished these ladies to help him in making Catholics of the Protestants, and doing them good in body and soul, they would have been about right.
As soon as the Sisters got settled they set to work, took part in the Sunday Schools, held Mothers' Meetings and Bible Classes on weeknights, visited the sick and poor, helped to prepare candidates for Confirmation and the other Sacraments, sought out the unbaptized and brought them to the font; in one year over six hundred were baptized. It was reported that at one time people used to pay a fee for baptism in the parish.
At first there were only three Sisters. This number increased gradually. At present, 1888, there are six at work, and we could easily find work for double that number.
In February, 1875, the Sisters commenced Day School work at Bute Lane Mission School, for girls and infants. This school is always full, and had we a larger and better room many more would come. Soon after this school was opened, an official of the School Board called one morning to see the school, and part of his description of it was that he saw "a large crucifix at one end of the room, and a Nun at the other." I need not say the crucifix still remains there, and the Nun is doing a very good work, such as the School Board never can do.
In 1876 they undertook Bute Terrace Girls' School, and they are in charge of that School up to the present date. In connection with this Mission, the House of Mercy at Roath was started about five years ago; that House is always full, and much real work is done for the good of those who seek shelter there and are endeavouring to lead better lives.
Another branch has lately been established at Merthyr Tydfil, which promises to become a very important field for work among a large Welsh population, where Sisters are as much needed as can be possible in any of our overgrown parishes. We hope for much good to the Welsh Church from that Mission.
But to return to the Cardiff work. In 1876 Sister Ruth started the Guild of S. Michael and All Angels. The numbers fluctuate, but vary from sixty to ninety members. The Guild is intended to help girls from Confirmation age till they get married, and as a rule they seem to marry fairly well. This Guild has been, and is, a great blessing to those for whom it is intended, and helps the girls to fulfil their religious obligations and keep straight. Some failures must be expected, but, nevertheless, it is an engine for great good in the parish. It is our most successful Guild.
The Sisters hold Bible and Instruction Classes for different ages on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
The Sisters also hold Mothers' Meetings at four places in the parish, which are attended by about one hundred and thirty mothers, who are thus brought in contact with them, and by this means the Sisters are frequently able to do them much good, temporally and spiritually. At these work meetings, lasting about one hour and a half, some instructive book is read to them, and one of the Clergy concludes the meeting with a short address.
In the early days of this Mission the Sisters had some curious experiences. At one house they visited the door was slammed in their faces; but afterwards the family came round, and most of them were confirmed, etc.
In another case, J. W. had prepared for Confirmation, but her brothers were opposed to her being confirmed, and one night she brought her boots to the Sisters' house to be kept till the Confirmation day, as her brothers intended hiding them so as to prevent her going.
When Sister Ruth went to the Vestry Sunday School for the first time, the class (which she was to have taken charge of) went clean out of the room; amongst the number four girls, who afterwards came to their Confessions regularly, and made their Communions, and others became Guild girls, and did the same.
These cases are mentioned as proofs of the success of some of the work of the Sisters here.
Another case may be mentioned in proof of the patience and determination of the Sisters to do good. Sister R., on hearing that Mr. S. was ill, called to see him. He was suffering from a terrible disease. Mrs. S., on hearing that she had come to see her husband, called out from the top of the stairs, "If you do not go down, I'll chuck you over the banister." The Sister went away then, but got in afterwards, and visited the poor man till he died.
In the year 1878 a Mission was held in the parish by Rev. George Body. The Sisters had been visiting one of the worst streets in this town, leaving leaflets, etc., about the Mission. Sister R. called at a house of unusual badness, and found the woman who kept the house a paralyzed cripple. Her husband was in gaol. Some months after this the woman got worse, and sent a policeman to ask Sister R. to go and see her. In the conversation which followed, this poor woman said she had given up swearing for about two years, and told Sister R. how it came about. One evening, in a drunken swearing bout, she called God to witness, and said, "If I am not saying what is true, may God strike me blind"; and sure enough she found next morning she was blind, and so remained for six months. This is the woman's story. She was afterwards visited by the Clergy and received instruction.
One interesting story must not be omitted. Sister V. got hold of a little boy from a very bad home. The father had been transported, and the whole surroundings would not bear investigation. The boy (we will call him Tom) was brought to baptism, and some time after that he was admitted to the choir, when the Vicar spoke to him seriously, and told him that if he was in the habit of swearing and telling lies, he must leave off. The boy stammered very much, but said, "No indeed, V-v-icar, I have not done so at all since I was baptized." Some time after this, however (be it remembered Tom was living in a very bad street, as bad as well could be), Tom one day said to the Vicar, "V-v-vicar, there is a boy in our street" (a chum of his), "and he do s-s-steal, and indeed, V-v-vicar, he can't h-help hisself. Will you speak to him?" The Vicar of course consented, and one morning Tom appeared at the Vicar's house with the boy who "did steal and could not help hisself," and the Vicar had a good talk with him. He did not deny the charge in the least, and he gave a graphic account of the manner of proceeding: how a boy was to brush by an apple-stall and upset some of the apples, and then on the return journey kick the apples forward, and then pick up what he found on the ground; or how one was to put off his shoes and sneak into a shop without any one observing him, and "cop" a tin of meat, etc. However, the Vicar got a promise that Tom's friend, who "could not help hisself" from stealing, would give up doing so, and for some time this promise was apparently kept: but evil influences and example seem to have prevailed, and he returned to his old courses--and what wonder? He was afraid of saying his prayers before his father and mother. The poor lad has become a gaol-bird, a miserable wreck; he had nothing and no one to help him to what is better. Not so, thank God, with Tom; he still stands firm. He attends church, says his prayers, and frequents the Sacraments, God grant him grace to persevere unto the end, and pray God bless Sister V. for bringing him to the better way. Lately the Sisters have opened a Girls' Guild House in Canal Parade for young girls--a kind of recreation room, partly for work and partly for amusement, where the Guild girls may assemble and have rational amusement, and be kept from rambling about the streets; in a word, to keep them from mischief. Up to the present it has been a success and fairly attended. In a part of this house the Sisters intend starting a Middle Class Girls' School after Christmas. This undertaking needs help, and it is hoped that those who can will give it.
One great difficulty we have to contend with is the want of backing from the parents, when the Sisters try to get the young girls to lead a good, steady life. Money greed is often at the bottom of it. If money is to be got, they are not particular as to the kind of places they let their children go to. The work before the Sisters in this place is to a great extent that of prevention, guarding, encouraging; and how important this is in such a population as we have at S. Mary's, Cardiff! Hindrances at every turn; bad homes, drinking, loose ways, rampant immorality, dancing saloons, temptations all around. It is really hard, uphill work.
Reference is made in this extract to the Mission held in S. Mary's in 1878 by the Rev. George Body. This was the first ten days' Mission held at S. Mary's since Father Jones became Vicar, though a Mission had been held in Cardiff shortly before then. One of his dearest friends, the Rev. M. H. Noel, at that time Vicar of S. Barnabas, Oxford, who frequently preached at S. Mary's, had conducted services at the Taff Vale Works in Bute Street. The Mission Services under Mr. Body in 1878 were held in concert with the Cardiff Mission for the town generally.
At a time when the most slanderous attacks were made on the Vicar of S. Mary's, the clergy, and the Sisters, it was to the credit of The Western Mail that an article announcing the Cardiff Mission could so fairly report:
On Monday, Nov. 5, the Rev. George Body, of Kirby Misperton, who has led all the Church Missions in the great English towns for the last thirteen years, gave an address at S. Mary's Church on the best methods of working the forthcoming Mission in Cardiff. On Tuesday the reverend gentleman preached a powerful and eloquent sermon on the same subject to a most attentive congregation. The wonderful gifts of the Rector of Kirby Misperton for this class of work may be gauged by the fact that he was chosen at the great London Mission three years ago to preach the inaugural sermon at S. Paul's Cathedral to the seven hundred clergymen who took part in that movement.
. . . Whatever may be the divisions of the Church on other occasions, the Haslams, the Aitkens, and men of the school of which the Rev. George Body is facile princeps know no differences on these occasions, but spend their talents and time in devoted service to their great Master.
The work of preparation was commenced at S. Mary's in November of the preceding year, when the Missioner addressed a large number of Church-workers, Teachers, Guild members, and communicants.
Mr. Body began by explaining what he considered to be the object of a Mission, i.e. to win souls to Christ from sin and indifference. This effort could not be expected to succeed unless the lay people of a parish were prepared to work for it, and with their clergy, who would themselves work under his orders. In accordance with these instructions meetings were held for intercessory prayer every fortnight until the Mission began. On the Friday before the Mission the Bishop of Llandaff gave an address to the Mission priests and Cardiff clergy at a special Eucharist celebrated in the Cathedral, and on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon addresses were given by Mr. Body to Clergy and Churchworkers at S. Mary's. Several clergy were assisting Mr. Body during the Mission--Mr. Evans, Rector of Llanmaes, the Revs. G. S. Rollings, C. N. Ogilvy, and the Vicar's old friend Mr. Hughes, at that time Rector of Gelligaer, and Mr. J. W. Wynne Jones, son of his former Rector when curate at Gwalchmai in Anglesey. One feature of the Mission, by which Mission work was brought home to many who never came to church, was the addresses given at the Docks and in workshops. The first workshop visited was that of Messrs. Sessions, where the address was given by a layman, who was afterwards warmly greeted by the men, who had listened to his earnest appeal to them to live for God with marked attention. The address at Messrs. Watson's timber yard was also given by a layman, and a vote of thanks was accorded to the Mission workers on the motion of one of the men. Addresses were also given at Messrs. Alexander's, Eland's, Parfitt & Jenkins's, and the Taff Railway Works,
One of the Mission clergy, the Rev. H. Salkeld Cooke, when beginning an address just within the gates of the Cardiff Docks was stopped by a Docks policeman, who asked him by what right he ventured to speak there. Mr. Cooke had, however, taken the precaution to get leave from the dock master, and in showing this he very aptly pointed out that the clergy did not preach or minister in church without authority, as they were authorized by the Bishops, who themselves could trace up their authority for their ministry to Christ through the Apostles.
Besides the Mission Services and Addresses the clergy and helpers and others met every day at noon for the Meetings for Intercessory Prayer. At these meetings special objects for intercession were mentioned, mostly taken from requests written and placed in a box near the church door. Some of these were very marvellously answered. A father of one of our Sunday-school teachers was dying and had refused to see a priest. He had lived a most careless life, and on one occasion had turned his son out-of-doors because he came to S. Mary's. The youth asked our prayers for his father, with the result that not only did he let one of the clergy come to see him, but also in the end was glad of his ministrations. Canon Body, however, said that at no other Mission that he had taken had he felt so strong an opposition to his efforts to stir and convince, and that he did not seem to be moving his hearers till after some days of the Mission.
This was not the only ten days' Mission held in S. Mary's during the old Vicar's time. A third Cardiff Mission was held in November 1888; the Missioners were, at S. Mary's, the Rev. E. Steele, Vicar of S. Neots, Cornwall, and the Rev. John Wakeford, of whom it was announced in the Parish Magazine:
Mr. Wakeford has the reputation of a Mission preacher of quite Apostolic character, as he has been in the habit of going about on foot from place to place preaching in the Diocese of Truro in Cornwall.
At the mission churches the Missioners were, at S. Michael's, the Rev. A. G. Stallard, at that time in charge of the Fishermen's Mission Church at Brixham and at S. Dyfrig's, the Rev. N. Y. Birkmyre, Vicar of S. Simon's, Bristol. As in the Mission of 1879, addresses were given in the workshops, but it was a new feature of the Mission of this year to have processions in the evening through the streets in preparation for the evening Mission Service at the parish church. At a quarter to seven Mr. Wakeford with several of the choir and churchworkers and preceded by one of the parochial clergy carrying a cross, left the church and proceeded, on one of the days of the Mission, through Canal Parade to the Bute Monument in S. Mary's Street, where a station was made. The Commandments were then recited, the choir responding with the Kyrie, after which the Mission preacher addressed those who were gathered together, urging them to come to the Mission at one of the churches where it was being held, and inviting them specially to the parish church. The procession then moved on, singing "Glory be to Jesus," to Bute Street, where another station was held at the corner of Charlotte Street. This street had then a very bad reputation. Another station was made in front of the church just before the hour fixed, i.e. 7.30, for the Mission Service. Similar processions were held in other parts of the parish; on one of these occasions some stones were thrown, but on the whole the attitude of the people was respectful and not antagonistic.
Besides the Mission Services held at the parish church and the two mission chapels there were Mission Services in Welsh at one of the National Schools. Here the Vicar's old friend "Brawd Hughes," the Rev. W. Hughes, Vicar of Gelligaer, was the Missioner. Mr. Hughes, like Canon Body, had taken part in the great Manchester Mission, where he was the Welsh Missioner; he was helped by another very old friend, the Rev. J. Wynne Jones, Vicar of Aberdare. The district in which these Welsh Services were held was the part of the parish adjoining the new Parish of All Saints, where shortly after a church dedicated to S. David, or, as it is called, Eglwys Dewi Sant, was built for Welsh Services only, for the use of Welsh people living in all parts of Cardiff.
All Saints' Church, which was at first intended for Welsh Services, was originally within S. Mary's Parish. It was, however, badly situated for that purpose, as the streets around it were almost entirely inhabited by Irish. The Vicar of S. Mary's had agreed to a scheme whereby this inconvenience might be obviated, but the plan proved unsuccessful at the time; he lived, however, to see it carried out, and the cause of the Welsh-speaking section of the Church in Cardiff was benefited thereby. Father Jones and his faithful friend and supporter, Mr. Robert Hughes, an old Llanegryn choir-boy and for many years a choir-man at S. Mary's, the first Lord Mayor of Cardiff, were in the forefront of the Welsh Church movement in Cardiff, though the Vicar was strongly suspicious of anything that savoured of a "Wales for the Welsh" party cry. It was noted in the Parish Magazine in the account given of the Mission:
It is hoped Welsh Services will soon be permanently held in S. Mary's Parish as a result of the Welsh Mission. A Welsh Sunday School has been started at Bute Terrace Schools in the afternoon, which has begun very successfully, and the Vicar has arranged to celebrate the Holy Communion in Welsh on the first Sunday in the month, there having been quite a sufficient number of Communicants at the Welsh Celebration during the Mission to make such a service most desirable; and it now remains for the Welsh Churchmen of Cardiff to aid the Vicar in his endeavours to restore, what it is a scandal to Cardiff to have lost, Welsh Services for the Church of the most important town in Wales.
His niece relates how pleased he was at the time of his last illness when the Vicar of All Saints', who was also in charge of Eglwys Dewi Sant, visited him to read the last prayers in Welsh. He also found in one of the districts, which had been taken out of S. Mary's Parish shortly after his institution, an old Welshwoman who did not understand English, and he used to visit her and take her the Blessed Sacrament.
When Father Jones came to S. Mary's he found two chapels within the Cardiff Docks, each in some degree under his jurisdiction. There was an old man-of-war called the Thisbe, used as a Seamen's Mission Ship, belonging to the Missions to Seamen Society, the chaplain of which held his licence as curate under the Vicar of S. Mary's. There was also an iron church served by one of the curates of S. Mary's. When in 1888 another iron church, called S. Stephen, was built within the Docks, part of the parish having a district assigned to it by the Bishop under the Peel Act, the clergyman being appointed by a Patronage Trust, the old iron church was taken down, and services held by one of Father Jones's staff at a schoolroom in that part of the parish. Afterwards a building built by a Free Church sect came to be sold and was bought by the Vicar: the services being then transferred from the school to the newer iron church, which was dedicated by Bishop Smythies on April 15, 1888. This was the first visit to England that Bishop Smythies paid after he had been out to Central Africa. As he was well known in Cardiff, having been at Roath as Assistant Curate and Vicar for ten years, he naturally received a most hearty welcome on his return there. A Conversazione was held in his honour at the Park Hall on Saturday, April 14, and on the day following, the Bishop of Llandaff being unable through illness to do so, he came to open the Church. This same year, 1888, saw the laying of the memorial stone of the new Church of S. Dyfrig's in the other and town end of the parish. The Bishop, it was recorded, preached to a crowded congregation in the mission chapel (where services had been held since 1875) at 11 a.m., and then a procession with cross and four banners was formed by the forty clergy, choir, and all the congregation and passed along Wood Street singing the Litany of the Holy Ghost, Mr. W. Sullivan and a friend accompanying on cornets.
Great interest was manifested by the residents and onlookers, and the neighbourhood was brilliant with flags owing to the zeal and efforts of some gentlemen of the congregation. At the site Lady Hill performed the office she had so kindly undertaken, and the Bishop duly blessed the stone. A third Mission in the parish was started in the spring of 1897, when services were begun in the part of the parish adjoining S. Paul, Grangetown, in a street leading off the Penarth Road. Here a room over a bakehouse was rented capable of holding about three hundred people, and was used for service for the first time on March 19, 1897. This was supplanted some two or three years later by a brick church built on the other side of the road, and opened as S. Samson's Church, in honour of the memory of the early Welsh Bishop, S. Samson, of Dol, in Brittany, as the other Mission Church had been built in commemoration of Llandaff's great Bishop, S. Dyfrig or Dubbritius, celebrated by Tennyson in his Idylls as "Dubric, the high saint, chief of the Church in Britain," by whom Arthur, the king, was married. We rather dwell on this as it certainly was characteristic of our old Vicar to have special veneration for the Welsh Saints. We remember how one of us suggested that the mission room near the Penarth Road should be called after S. Joseph, as it was opened on S. Joseph's Day, March 19, or S. Patrick, as being near his festival; but he would have neither the New Testament Saint nor the Irish Apostle, his mind being bent on having a title from some Saint connected with the old British Church. He was very keen on Welsh place-names, and was always ready to point out how such names showed the devotion of the Welsh to their Saints, and still helped to illustrate Church history and Church customs. He was not a great reader or student, but such books as his friend Robert Owen's "Sanctorale Catholicum" and Canon Jenkins's "Age of the Martyrs" were greatly valued. In regard of the latter book he undertook with Lord Bute's assistance to bring out a Welsh edition of it with illustrations, but unfortunately when near completion the entire edition perished in the fire that destroyed The Western Mail buildings in S. Mary Street, Cardiff, in the year 1893. The names of S. Pagan's, Llantwit, Llantrisant, were no mere names to him, they were instinct with Church history and Christian devotion; and it may serve both to illustrate his mind and spirit, as well as the scenery in and around where his work at Cardiff for thirty years was carried on, to quote his friend Canon Jenkins's description of the locality in connection with these early British Saints:
On the north side of the great estuary of the Severn lies the pleasant land of Glamorgan undulating in gentle hills, where the rivers glide on to the sea by green meadows and under wood-clad heights, a broad tract of fertile land, where now every hill-top has its church gleaming white out of its surrounding trees. It lies at the foot of lofty mountains, out of which the torrent rivers come down from the steep, bare inland valleys. Passing up from the plain the mountains grow sterner, hemming in the river and its narrow strip of green land along its course, clothed up to their heights with dark woods or rugged with grey limestone rising out of the scanty grass; sterner still until the valley becomes a dark ravine, through which the river leaps over limestone rocks and the mountain sides are brown with heath, and far inland the central chain rises up in vast cliffs of the red stone of the ages long ago. Over this land, in the days when the Martyrs were suffering in Lyons, reigned Lleurwg Mawr of the blessed race of Bran, living in the low country, where the sea-waves heat against the long range of limestone cliffs, and where the blue mountains of Somerset bind in the horizon beyond the dusky waters. Much had been done throughout his land, but the king sought to firmly establish the faith, and sent his messengers to Rome. We can make few details certain: four came back from Rome, Dyfan and Elfan, Ffagan and Meclwy; they preached and consolidated the kingdom in the Christian Faith. The Christian Faith was spread abroad by the fervid king, he gave them land and formed a Cathedral in the broad plain by the Taff. Dyfan was Bishop, and died for his master; and Ffagan succeeded him, and the line of Bishops went on until the brighter days of devotion, of learning, and of charity, of S. Dyfrig, S. Illtyd, S. Teilo, S. Padarn, and of S. David.
In giving this extract we cannot but recollect with a smile that Canon Jenkins was a South Wallian, and that his friend the Vicar of S. Mary's was a North Wallian, and would never have endorsee! the former's description of the "lofty mountains" hemming in the river Severn; he would hardly admit that South Wales had mountains at all, and used to speak of them as "those little hills," and "you should see the real mountains in North Wales." When in later years he visited Switzerland and spent his holidays among the Alps, and also in the Pyrenees, he somewhat altered his tone; not that he one whit less appreciated the beauties of his own Cader Idris and the higher range of Snowdon.
In referring to our Vicar's devotion to the Saints of Britain it might aptly come in here to mention one feature of our work at S. Mary's in his time: the frequent lectures that were given on Church History and subjects allied to it. One of the earliest institutions organized at S. Mary's very shortly after he became Vicar was a guild for men called the Guild of the Good Shepherd. It met every fortnight, and at most of the meetings some subject was introduced for discussion, or lecture given, bearing on the doctrine or history of the Church. Among these lectures, given by the parochial clergy, lay members of the Guild, and occasionally by outsiders, lay and clerical, such subjects were introduced as Early Christianity in England and Wales, Intercession of the Saints, John Wesley, John Keble, Archbishop Laud, S. Athanasius, the Nicene Council, the Early British Church, Dean Hook, Bishop Gray, Bishop Patteson, Leonardo da Vinci, the Roman Catacombs, Glastonbury in the Middle Ages, the Witness of Egyptian Monuments to Holy Scripture, S. Bernard, etc. If our Vicar could not be described as a student, yet he thoroughly recognized the need of study, and was a great advocate for keeping up the Church Schools. More than that, he did a great deal for Welsh instruction in Church principles; in conjunction with the Rev. C. W. Heaton and the Rev. Lewis Gilbertson he published in 1854 a psalter in Welsh, "Y Psallwyr neu Psalmau Dafydd wedi eu nodi au haddasu i's Tonau Cyntefig." He also brought out a Welsh Gregorian psalter in conjunction with Doran and Nottingham, and the following Welsh publications: "Y Caniadau a Chredo S. Athanasius wedi eu nodi au haddasu i's Tonau Cyntefig, 1854," "Ffurf igynnal Gwlnos," "Bedyeld Esgob," "A Manual on Confirmation," or, as literally rendered from the Welsh, "Bishop's Blessing." He always rejoiced to point out the meaning of such Welsh words as "offeiriad" for a clergyman, literally "offerer;" the word occurs frequently in Allen Rainc's interesting novels of Welsh life and character, though it appears there as "ffeiradd."
A paper read by the Vicar of S. Mary's at the Llandaff Diocesan Conference in 1887 also shows what a keen interest he took in all that concerned the Welsh-speaking Churchmen of the Principality:
The bi-lingual difficulty. The greatest difficulty of all is to convince people that there is a bi-lingual difficulty. Our English neighbour as a rule docs not believe that then is one. How does he come to this conclusion? He gains his knowledge of Wales mostly from his holiday trip. He finds the station masters, the hotel waiters, and the shopmen, all able to converse with him in English. Of course they can; the Welsh are shrewd enough to know that if they are to make money out of the "Sais," they must employ men and women, for the season at any rate, who can talk English. The English tourist returns to his homo and says he finds all the Welsh able to talk English: whereas had he stepped some half a mile or a mile inland from his seaside hotel, he would have found any number of the country people unable to carry on a conversation beyond "is" and "no," or "dim Saesneg," or "beth mae'r gwyddel yn ei ddweyd," in answer to his queries. Some years ago my dear old friend the saintly Father Lowder, who did such a wonderful work at St. Peter's, London Docks, was staying in the parish where I worked before coming to Cardiff, and he attended my little Parish Church while there. In that Welsh parish we had a small colony of English-speaking people, mostly the household and servants of the squire; and in addition to the ordinary Welsh services we had a service in the afternoon in English for the benefit of the English colony. After being at the Welsh service the dear good man Lowder took me seriously to task for having Welsh services, and asked me if I did not think it my duty to teach the people English, so that they might join in the Church services in that language--i.e. in other words, make the whole parish give up their own language and learn a new one for the sake of having their devotions in the English tongue. Why it should not have been proposed the other way I could not quite see, namely, that the mere handful of English-speaking people should not learn Welsh to enable them to join in the ordinary service of the parish church. However, my answer to Father Lowder was: "I am not a teacher of languages, but a priest of God's Church, and my duty is to teach the people religion in the language they understand." I need not say I never heard another word about teaching English to my parishioners; Father Lowder was too sensible a man not to see the error of his advice about teaching English to a whole parish before teaching them the doctrines of Christianity, especially as I could teach them the faith in their own language far easier than I could teach them a new language.
Then again there is that old prophecy which I have-heard from my school-boy days, ignorantly repeated by those who know nothing about the state of things in Wales, namely, that the language is dying out fast and that it cannot last much longer. I believe this is a very old and yet unfulfilled prophecy, much earlier than the birth of the oldest amongst us. I have failed to see any signs of its fulfilment, though I have lived in four counties of Wales and know a good deal about several others. The prophecy and the prophets rather remind me of the spendthrift nephew who was always looking forward to the death of his rich old uncle, who ought to have died years ago in the natural course of things, but who seemed never inclined to die. I believe I am right in stating that at the date of the first Reform Bill (1832) there were in Wales only 10 Welsh newspapers and periodicals. At present there are--Welsh newspapers, 15: Welsh magazines, 25; partly Welsh, 12; total, 52.
This, I confess, does not look like a dying language. There seems to be no signs of mortality about it. The Welsh language for all practical purposes seems as unlikely to die as ever, and it is our duty manfully to try and meet the difficulty we have to deal with--the providing services in both Welsh and English in many of our parishes. I am convinced that Welsh is the home-language of a larger number of people at this moment than has been the case for centuries. Dean Edwards, of Bangor, was a very good authority on this subject, and he says, in his letter to Mr. Gladstone, that Welsh was the language of familiar conversation among seven-tenths of his countrymen. We cannot, and I trust do not wish to, ignore seven-tenths of our people. Lord Aberdare, in his address as President of the National Eisteddfod in 1885, says: "When we come to the great centres of population, I don't feel sure that, although English is making progress, the Welsh is decreasing. I have said, and I repeat it now, that in my belief there are more people speaking Welsh now than ever spoke Welsh at any previous period of our history." So I think we may conclude there is a bi-lingual difficulty.
The endowments of the parishes in Wales were intended for providing services in one language, and if two sets of services are required we must look to some "special fund" to be established for providing additional clergymen to meet the case. Had the Welsh clergy stuck to the Welsh from the first, and left the rich English people, who come amongst us to make money, to shift for themselves, they would have found a way out of the difficulty.
But care must now be taken, where the two languages are side by side in the parish, that each has a full and honest half of our labour and attention. The "Sais" is a very exacting person, and if he can he will get the lion's share. I say equal share at the least, as I have known in a large parish where the Welsh are more numerous than the English, and where each nationality had a Church of its own, I have found the treatment of the Welsh very different from that of the English. The parish I allude to was in decidedly High Church hands, the priest was a very good man too, but he evidently thought the Welsh did not require things as nice and clean as the English. In the English Church the Altar was very fairly supplied with the necessary linen for the due reverent celebration of Holy Communion, a nice clean corporal and purificators, and, if my memory is correct, I think they had a silk burse and veil. But I had to go to the Welsh Church: there all was simply filthy, care and cleanliness were from home, and it was with difficulty that proper reverence could be observed in cleansing the holy vessels after the celebration. It has always been a mystery to me why the Welsh should be treated differently from the English. The English must have the forenoon--that is the axiom. The Welsh must be content with an evening service. In some parishes, where it is wished to give frequent opportunities for Communion, an early celebration is provided for the English, but very seldom for the Welsh. In other parishes great attention is paid to the services for the English--the singing, the ceremonies--and as bright a service as can be provided is given; it is taken for granted the Welsh people do not care for the Church Service, and the Welsh are supposed to be content if they can have the "Pregeth." I protest against it being supposed the Welsh do not care for the Church Services--in other words, worship; if they are taught not to care for them, they will not care for them. Just the same as in a school, if a certain boy is always supposed to be wicked, and gets a had name, that boy in all probability will come up to the estimate that has been made of him, and he will be wicked. When the Welsh have been taught the value of the Services, and that God requires reverent worship, the Welshman is as capable at least as men of any other nation to take an intelligent part in the worship of Almighty God. I do not call this treatment a dealing with the bi-lingual difficulty properly. In a parish which I visited last year, the church cleaner told me they had morning services for the English, and a Welsh morning service dovetailed in for the Welsh, but they had no time for Holy Communion in the morning for the Welsh, so they had the Welsh Celebration in the evening. How could the poor Welshman learn reverence and devotion with such treatment? He was compelled either to go without Communion, or to receive it at the tail end of the day, not to mention the utterly un-Church hour when it was offered him. If I spoke my own mind, I should call it sacrilege. This was a very prominent parish, the Vicar a man of some note, and for the English there appeared to be some reverent attention, if I may judge from the appearance of the Altar; for my part I wished his Altar candles, cross, and furniture thrown into Cardigan Bay, till he had learnt the first rudiments of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
Let proper care and attention be paid to the Welsh services, and an honest teaching of the doctrines of the Church of Christ, and let the Welsh services be. rendered with reverent care and earnestness, and I have no fear for the Church in Wales. Up to the present we have been going on wrong lines; we have been giving our Welsh people services as like what they get in chapel as we can, and the result has been disappointing. Catholic teaching and practice as yet have not been tried amongst the Welsh. My belief is that we need something of the spirit of Father Benson and Father Lowder amongst us. An outspoken teaching of the Sacramental system alone can meet the needs of fallen man, be he Welshman or of any other nationality. Other systems may amuse, and attract for a time, but then there is no going to the root of the matter in these modern systems. You flatter the people, and get crowded congregations at harvest home services, but you do not strike the root of the evil with which we have to contend. You only skim the surface and at best make some few outward adherents, and this is not what we want. We want to make the people intelligent, God-fearing Church people; people who will cling to the Church for what they can get--God's grace and Sacramental union with Christ. Unless they get the vital thing conveyed by the Sacraments they get next to nothing.
The Mission at Temperance Town, which led to the formation of the present parish of S. Dyfrig's, began with services held in an upper room in Park Street, near the Cardiff Arms Park, where the great international football matches are held. The services in this district--so called because no public-house was permitted in any street of this part of Cardiff--were at first conducted by a layman, Mr. Kirby, who held a licence as lay-reader. Mr. Kirby was ordained deacon in the autumn after Father Jones became Vicar, and priest the following year. Shortly after Mr. Kirby's resignation in 1875 this room had to be given up, and it was not till the spring of 1876 that services were again held by the Rev. J. S. St. John in a school-chapel built on ground given for the purpose of a day school by the Marquis of Bute, but with his lordship's knowledge that it would also be available for Church Services. When it was opened on April 26, 1876, the Vicar announced that he looked forward to building a permanent church, for which ground had been purchased, and conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He stated at the same time that this ground had been claimed by the Cardiff School Board, but that their claim would be strenuously resisted, as it was the only piece of land that the Church could obtain in that district. At the services held in connection with the opening of this mission church, the sermon was preached by the Rev. S. E. Gladstone, Rector of Hawarden, who came to Cardiff straight from the dedication of the Chapel of Keble College, Oxford. It was this College which eventually obtained the patronage of S. Dyfrig's. In the dispute with the Cardiff School Board the Vicar was successful only in retaining part of the land, with the somewhat unfortunate result that S. Dyfrig's covers every inch of the ground belonging to the Church, and with a Board or Council School quite adjoining.
Such incidents as those recorded in the Parish Magazine, describing the Confirmation held at S. Mary's in the Lent of 1889, show how ready the Bishop of Llandaff, Dr. Lewis, was to encourage the good work of his diocese. After confirming over a hundred candidates in the parish church, the Bishop "went straight from the church to a house near, where he conferred the Sacred Rite on a young woman who was dying, and later on in the afternoon he also went from the Clergy House in Loudoun Square to confirm a sick man living opposite." On the Tuesday after the Confirmation, it is added: "The Vicar took the Blessed Sacrament to the dying girl, and on the afternoon of the same day she quietly breathed her last, God having thus graciously spared her to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, and the Blessed Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood, before He called her hence to know, more fully, the blessedness of that union with Him, which she had experienced here through the Sacraments."
It may perhaps fitly be noticed here that very early in the Vicar's time a branch of the Guild of All Souls was established in Cardiff, and afterwards a parochial branch specially connected with S. Mary's; once every week a Requiem Mass was said, which was announced in the Parish Magazine, and the members of this Guild, as also those of the other parochial Guilds for men, women, and girls, made a point of attending the funeral of any departed member. All this helped greatly to make them feel the bond of fellowship in their Guilds, and, what was still more important, to realize the truth of the Communion of Saints.