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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Roman Catholic Church

page 335

Roman Catholic Church

The earliest services in Gisborne after the missionary period were held sometimes at the courthouse and, at other times, at the public school. At Ormond a hall was used. Poverty Bay was established a charge separate from Hawke's Bay in 1878. St. Mary's was consecrated on 26 January, 1880, by the Most Rev. Walter Steins, S.J., D.D. In June, 1903, the Gisborne parish was divided, the country portion being made a separate parish, with Ormond its headquarters. St. Patrick's, Makauri, was consecrated on 14 March, 1903, and St. Joseph's, Makaraka, on 15 April, 1923.

It is intended that all the main church and school buildings shall be situated in Upper Childers Road. Two modern primary schools—one for boys and the other for girls—were built there in 1927, and separate up-to-date secondary schools were opened in 1946. Post-war building difficulties have delayed the erection of a church at Mangapapa. No date has been fixed for the commencement of the building of a main church to replace St. Mary's.

Resident priests at Gisborne: Father John O'Connell, who held his first service at Gisborne in the public school on 27 October, 1872, and his first service at Ormond on 3 November, 1872 (1872–74); Father J. B. Simpson (1874–78); Father Stephen Chastagnon, who has been described as “a dear old partly-crippled French priest noted for his quaint sayings” (1878–80); Father Felix Vaggioli, who returned to Italy and was appointed Abbot-Visitator of Casino Congregation, and was the author of Storia della Nuova Zelanda (1880–83); Father Patrick Riordan, who had been a missionary in India and Mauritius (1883–84); Father Jeremiah John Murphy (1884–88); Father Joseph Paul Kehoe (1888–93); Father Joseph Loughlin Ahern, who was ordained at Ohio, U.S.A. (1893–97); Father Thomas Mulvihill, who died on 23/3/1906, and is the only priest buried in Poverty Bay (1897–1906); Father (later Dean and then Monsignor) Thomas Lane, who became a member of the Auckland Diocesan Council (1906–25); Father Joseph Patrick Murphy (1925–34); Father James McMahon (1934–48); Father N. Berridge (1949—).

Resident priests at Ormond: Father Lane, Father Dignan, Father Carran, Father Lyons, Father Curley, Father Leen, Father Bowling.

Father John Breen was drowned at Whangaparaoa in 1853, and Father Alletag in the Waioeka River in 1861.