Anzac Day 2021
This Sunday we mark Anzac Day, commemorating the men and women who served, and who sacrificed their lives in the terrible conflicts of World War I. The Australian Jesuits recall two Jesuit chaplains, one of whom was Parish Priest here at Richmond, who were very much present with those in amongst the dangers and devastation of war.
Fr Joseph Hearn SJ was at our parish from 1896 to 1914. In his time as Parish Priest he was strongly committed to building schools for the children of the Richmond parish, believing that schools were the most important part of parish life after Mass itself.
As World War I began in July 1914, there was a call for volunteer chaplains. All the priests at the Richmond parish community volunteered, but Fr Joseph Hearn as Superior indicated that he would be going. He was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force in early September 1914.
From Gallipoli came a letter from Fr Tighe:
“A Presbyterian soldier told me an incident in connection with the 'bonzer priest' the other day. An engagement was at its height when a soldier came from the front asking for a priest to attend a poor fellow whose two legs had just been shot off. Father Hearn started for the firing line and ran a mile over a most difficult country. Bullets and bombs were flying about and falling fast; still he reached the dying soldier in safety and did all that was possible for him...”*
In remembering those who served God and country on Anzac Day, may we also recall the Australian Jesuits in the First World War who accompanied their brothers and sisters in great peril, offering their much-needed pastoral care and presence. AMDG. Lest we forget.
*Source: Richmond Catholic Parish History
Photo Credit: Lest We Forget Cross in Renmark, Australia by Eric Smart from Pexels