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THE PRESENTATION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6607, 28 June 1905
• During an interval between the two party of the musical programme the serious business of the evening was transacted. Mr Mr M. J. Burgess (ohairman of the Committee) addressed those present. He said that before carrying out the pleasing duty he had the honour, as Chairman of the Committee to perform, he desired, on behalf of the Committee and on behalf of the Catholic community of the district, to extend to ■ the Bishop and the Catholic Ciergy present, a hearty welcome. (Applau-a ) They would all feel that it; was a high privilege to have the Bbhop and his devoted Clergy present that evening. He understood that one of the Reverend Fathers present had travelled 350 mile 3to be present to do honour to Dean O'Donnell. H& also desired to thank all those of the general public who were present oc who had subscribed in so liberal a manner to the testiraoni <1 to be presented that evening to the Rev Drfan O'Donnell. It said much for the esteem in which the Rev, Father was held when he said that many of the subscribers to the testimonial belonged to other denominations. It would perhaps not be out of place to say something about the origin of the testimonial. Two or three of the members of the present Committee were one evening chatting together on carront topics, when one of them casually mentioned that Dean O'Donnell would very shortly see his Silver jubilee as a priesc. Those present then and there decided to at once send out circulars to the whole of the Catholic members of the community and to those of the Deau'a personal friends who resided in other parts of the Colony. A meeting was held in the looal parish school—the greatest meeting, without exception, ever held in that building—and it waa there decided that a worthy testimonial should be presented to the Dean. A. Committee waa formed, collectors were appointed, and other things necessary were done, with the result that in a short space of time the handsome and liberal manner in which subscriptions had poured in had enabled them to carry out the wishes of tha subscribers to the very letter. He again thanked the subscribers for their liberality, and said that he was sure it was the wish of all here present that their Dean might live to see his G-olden Jubilee. (Applause). Mr A. J. Mil Her then read the address, whioh was handsomely illuminated by the the young lady pupils of the Convent, the lettering being in black and red on light green bristol board, cut shield shape and mounted on white satin, ornamented with floral devices. The frame was in some dark wood, cleverly carved by the nuns at the convent. The wording of the address was as follows : — We, the undersigned Members of the Ashburton Catholic Parish, desire to tender you, on behalf of your Parishioners, our heartiest congratulations on this occasion of your Silver Jubilee. The twenty-five years that yon have spent in the ministry of God, have been to the advantage of the Church in general, and the Ash burton Parish in particular. We bailed your advent to this Parish, ! some thirteen years ago, because you were i known to the clergy and laityjof New Zealand, as a Priest possessing in the highest degree qualities of mind and heart, whioh were a guarantee to us that our spiritual and temporal welfare would be assured under your able administration. Your zeal as a spiritual director, and your extensive learning, have always fitted you to be an able exponent of Catholic truth and doctrine. When you arrived here the immediate needs of the Parish were the erection of a Church at Rakaia, the enlargement of the Church at Methven, and the removal of the Convent to a more central site. These works you accomplished, and they are briefly mentioned to prove your worth as an administrator. When you assumed charge the financial position of the Parish was in an embarrassing condition; and it says much for your financial ability that the debt, which for a number of years had hindered the progress of the Parish, is now extinguished. On this memorable Anniversary, we desire to assure you of our deep sense of gratitude for the self-sacrificing manner in which you have carried out many important undertakings on .cur behalf. Your Parishioners (assisted by your many non-Catholic friends, together with your brother Diocesan Priests), who desire to add to your personal comfort, have much pleasure on this memorable occasion in presenting you with an Automobile. We trust that your asceptance of ifc will tend to strengthen the bond of sympathy that already unites you to us. Humbly praying God to grant you strength of mind and body to enable you to worthily continue to fulfil the sacred duties of your holy office. We beg to subscribe ourselves your de^ voted and loyal people. Mr Muller then presented the address to the Dofin, accompanied by a cheque for 300 guineas, and a couple of travelling rugs on behalf of certain subscribers who did not wish to contribute to the automobile testimonial. (Applause), The Chairman then read apologies for absence from Dean Ginaty, Mr J. McLachlau M.H.1?., Mr H. McSherry (Pahiatua), and Mr T. Bullock. Dean Bowera (of Geraldine) speaking on behalf of the Catholic Clergy, said he had known Dean O'Donnell personally for the past twenty year 3, through good report and bad report, for better and for worse, at all times and in all places, whether he agreed or disagreed with the Deao, he had always found him to be a true man in the best sense of the word. (Applause). He had always been able to make a successful appeal to Father O'Donnell's sympathies in cases of necessity or destitution. There was no priest in the colony more highly valued and appreciated by the Catholic Clergy of New Zealand, than Father O'Donnell of Ashburton, and their was no parish in Australasia where Father O'Donnell would not be welcomed. He paid a high tribute to the exceptional business capacity of Father O'Donnell. He had met many business people, contractors, and others on the West Coast, who had assured j him that their business dealings with j the Dean had been among the most satisfactory of their experience. He was
pre3ant at Doan O'Donnell's ordination twenty five year 3 ago. Twemy five years hence the Dean, if God spared him, would celebrate lua Golden Jubilee, and if his parish then decided to give him n flying machine or such improved machine for locomotion as would then be in vogue, the speaker would, if he w<jre still alive, come and attend th?.t celebration. (Applause.) The Mayor (Mr H. Divis), who was reC9ived with great applause, said that be was present on behalf of the non Catholic members of the eoniinuuUy, and as r9pre- | sentative of the Borough of Ashburton, and it gave him much pleasure to add hia quota to the recognition of Dean O'Donnell's services. The longer anyone know Father O'Donnell, thvvbittac they liked him. Ho had never known a case where the Father had turned away any poor soul who came to him seeking assistance or advice. He also hoped to bo present at the Rev. Father's Golden Jubilee, and would travel fifty miles to see hiai mide a Bishop. (Applause). Mr D Thomas (e\-Muyor of Ashburfcon), said he could Dob allow the occasion to pass by without bearing testimony to the qualities of Father O'Donnell. He eulogised Father O'Donnell's business energy and abilities and his unfailing tact and courtesy. Hfi thought it was time the Catholic 3of Ashbuttou got together and erected a church building worthy of the purpose it was intended to serve. (Applause.) Mr U. Friedlander (ex-Mayor of Ashbucton), Baid that he was present that evening for more than one reason. He could endorse tha Mayor's statement that the longer tha Rev. Father stopped here the better he was liked. la addition to considerable theological learning their worthy Dean possessed a very good knowledge of business, and nothing gave the speaker's firm greater pleasure than to have dealings with Father O'Donnell. He also expressed the hope that he would be able to be present at the Dean's Goldon —or even his Diamond -Jubilee. Mr W. H. Collins (ex Mayor of Ashburton) said that after all the eloquence poured forth that evening anything ha could say would be of little interest, In his official capaoity as Mayor he had come into contact with the Dean as a citizen, and also in private life, and his estimate of the Dean's many fine qualities had been enhanced with succeeding years. Mr P. Hanrahan, one of the oldest members of the Dean's congregation, also briefly congratulated the Dean on his attainment of his Silver Jubilee. Mr J. P. M<Qailkin, in a humorous I speech., recounted some of his experiences i as a pupil under Dean O'Donnell at Christchurch many years ago, and wound up by relating how on one occasion he was chased by the Dean, who desired to punish him for some boyish freak. "If you had seen the splendid style in which Father O'Donnell covered the first hundred yards on that occasion," said Mr McQuilkin, "you would hardly think it necessary to provide him with a motor car." Mr L. Hanrahan (representing the Ashburton Hibernian Society) spoke highly of Dean O'Donneli's services in connection with the inauguration of the Society/and ascribed its present success mainly to the labours of Dean O'Donnell ia its behalf. Mr A. J. Miiller (Hon. Sec.) said that the fact that the address to Father O'Donnell was signed by several of the leading- members of the cengregation, spoke for itself. There was no doubt the address truly represented the feeling of the ecngregation taken as a whole, and of the Catholic community throughout Ashburton. He was pleased to be able to say that with che exception of one casa he bad not to ask any person, Catholic or non-Catholic, for a subscription towards the testimonial ; yet he had received £90. The suocess attending the Committee's efforts was a striking testimony to Father O'Donnell's popularity among all classes. The second subscription of five guineas which the speaker received was given by a non-Catholic. It; had been decided not to purchase for tho Key Father an automobile, but to hand over tho money to him'and let him make his own selection. The speaker joined with previous speakers in trusting that his Reverence the Daan would live to see his Golden Jubilee and hoped that whan the tima came for the celebration of that event, it would find Father O'Donnell still amongst His Ashburton congregation. (Applause). Bishop Grimes, who was received with great applause, said he was present to show his appreciation of the act so well performed, not only by the Catholics, but by the citizens of Ashburton and the surrounding district, *He at first intended to convey his sentiments by telegram or by letter, as it was not the custom for Bishops to attend functions of this description. He might stite that this was the first occasion on which he had been present at a presentation to any Priest in his Diocese. It had given him de<?p gratification to listen to the speeches made in honour of Dean O'Donnell. He had ordained Father O'Donnell one of the first Deans in Canterbury, and his position that evening was, therefore, a proud one. To find many leading citizens who were not Catholics present at a gathering held in. honour of a Catholio Priest, was very gratifying to a Bishop. When the speaker came to Christchurch as the first Catholio Bishop of the Diocese, Father O'Donnell had already done great work in the Diocese of Wellington, to which the Christchurch Diocese was then attached. He gave Father O'Donnell his first appointment in this Diocese, having heard of his work on the West Coa3t. Since then he had seen, with, his own ayes, what Father O'Donnell had done. He outlined the career of Father O'Donnell previous to coming to Ashbur ton. When the Dean first came to Ashburton there was a very large debt hanging over the Parish. The speaker had been asked to take the responsibility for this debt on to his own shoulders and make it a Diocesan liability, but although he was then a " new chum," ha was hardly green enough to do that. (Laughter.) Under Dean O'Donnell's able administration this debt had been wiped out, and the finances of the Church in Ashburton were now in an eminently satisfactory condition, j He was pleased to hear a remark from Mr Thomas which one would hardly have expected from anyone but a member of the Catholic Church. He referred to the suggestion that Ashburton needed a new Catholic Church. He would be very pleased, if God spared him, to lay the foundation stoua of a new Catholio Church for Ashburton, and would also like to t see Father O'Donnell installed m a new Presbytery. Doubtless, these improvements would be effected some time in the futu.ro. Should he be spared to live twenty-five years longer, even though, he would then be a yery old and worn out kind of man, he would be glad to be present at Dean' O'Donnell's Golden Jubilee. (Applause.) Dean O'Donnell (who was received with tremendous applause) said: — " I should be a great deal more than human if I were not deeply gratified to-night, and at the same time I should be a great deal less than a man if I were not highly pleased at the splendid demonstration got up by the members of my congregation, and the fine testimonial presented to me as a token of their regard. I have sometimes felt inclined to sneer when the recipient of some such testimonial as this has said that " words failed him to express his feelings," but I shall never sneer again, as I feel toi night that no words could adequately [ express my feeling?, I thank you ! from the bottom of my heart. t What more can I say ? I am deelpy , grateful to you for your kindness Ito me to-night. There was hardly a priest [ ever ordained who when the Bishop's hands I were laid upon him he wa3 given his sacerdotal powers, did not make great plans and resolutions for the future work of his life for the glory of God and the \ furtherance of his religion. I was, per- j haps no exception to this rule, but no one knows better than myself how far the performance haa lagged behind the intentions I might be able very easily to discount the many complimentary things said about I me this evening, very easily, but I find it | impossible to discount the fact that a very handsome cheque has been presented to me, and I am therefore forced to the conclusion that what waß said was really meant." The speaker (continuing) said that Rome of the previous speakers had been good enough to refer to what had been done in the district since his arrival there, but perhaps it had not occurred to them that in praising the wort don 9 daring the past thirteen years they were really praising themselves. Although he had been the instrument by which much of the work was done, yet they had supplied the sinews of war, without which he could have done but little. When His Lordship the Bishop entrusted this district to his charge the finances of the parish were undoubtedly in a very bad condition, and one of the reasons why he had undertaken the work was that Father Coffey, under whose administration the parish had somehow got into debt, was a friend of his and he desired to do all he could to retrieve the situation. He might say that he had never heard anyone say a word against Father Coffey, and he was
very glad he had been able to assist in wiping out the debt. Father Chastagnon, the speaker'e immediate predecessor, had not; stirred up his floak sufficiently to, induce them to make an effort to extinguish, the debt. The erection of a new Presbytery in Ashburton was more of a crying nooeafd-y than the creation of anew church, but if his congregation were able to contribute over £ 1,600 to the -Cathedral in Christcburch, an! to give him the very hmdsome cheque ha had received that evfniag, there \v»s 110 doubt of the->r' ability to raise the necessary fund.3 to erect; both a Presbytery and a Church. 5e would be pleased to devote the cheque he had received to the purpose, indicated by the donors, and trusted that tho purchase >i: an automobile would increase his facilities for the effective administration of tho picish. He mustthauk all those who subscribed or who worked up the present demonstration, aud would especially mention Messrs Thomas O'Carrol, M. J. Burgess, and A. J. Muller. The last named gentleman's duties a* secretary, had takon up a great deal of hia time, which was most cheerfully given. \ He also thanked the performers at the concert, I and last, but not lea3t, he thanked Hie Lordship the Bishop for his presence. That was an honour he had not expected. He was pleased bo see such men as Messrs Friedlander, Thomas, and" Collins there that evening. If people held different views to them as Catholics on the best way to worship God, that waa no reason why they should look askance at them. They were all trying to work out their destinies in the way which to them seemed best, and he must make a plea for friendly relatioaa with all outside denominations. — (Applause). Mr M. J. Burgess, on behalf of the Committee, then briefly thanked the performers, the audience, and the subscribers. During an interval in which supper wa3 handed "-ound, Mr W. Smith (of Begg and Co.) gave several selections with a very large Columbia gramaphone. The furniture used on the stage and in the body of the hall was kindly lent by Messrs Moriarty Bros.
THE PRESENTATION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6607, 28 June 1905
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