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ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE.
Completing Historic Building.
(BY W. P. GIBBONS.)
After a lapse of nearly 80 years, definite steps are being taken to complete the historic building of St. John's College, within the University of Sydney. To-morrow afternoon, at the college, a State-wide appeal will be launched by Archbishop Kelly to raise £50,000 to complete the southern wing and tower of the building. It will be Archbishop Kelly's fir-t public appearance since his serious Ill- ness, nearly two years ago.
At the beginning of the present year, Arch- bishop Kelly appointed the Rev. William P. Clark as financial secretary for special dio- cesan works, and nominated the completion of St. John's College, which it is expected will be opened during the Scsqui-Centenary cele- brations in Sydney in 1938. Father Clark has, for the past six months, been in close touch with Catholic professional, business, and commercial men throughout the State, to whom he has directed the urgent necessity for the completion of the building, as the present rector, the Very Rev. Father J. C. Thompson, CM., has been unable for the past two years to accommodate the students seek- ing admission. Father Clark's successful effort two years ago In raising £30,000 for the completion of the Catholic seminaries at Manly and Springwood was personally acknow- ledged by the present Pope, who sent him a letter of congratulation through the Papal Secreary of State (Cardinal Pacelli).
With Archbishop Kelly on the platform at St. John's College, to-morrow will be a distin- guished gathering of the Australian Roman Catholic hierarchy and leading Catholic pro- fessional men. Archbishop Duhig (Brisbane) will deliver a special address.
HISTORY OF ST. JOHN'S.
In 1857, Archbishop Polding, the founder of the college, issued a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Sydney, stating that the New South Wales Government of the day had offered l8 acres and £10,000 for the erec- tion of a Catholic institution within tlie Uni- versity, on condition that a similar sum was subscribed. Dr. Polding appealed to his people to take full advantage of the liberal provisions offered by the Government, and urged the necessity of proceeding with the work, in order to secure as quickly as possible the religious, social, and political advantages which had been placed within their grasp.
At a meeting, held in St. Mary's Cathedral on August 3, 1857, Mr. Justice Therry pro- posed the following resolution:-"That, in order to meet the munificent provisions made by the Government for the promotion of a high order of education in the colony, imme- diate steps be taken by the Catholics of the archdiocese to raise the sum of £10,000 re- quired by the Act of the Council." It was, he said, an occasion of the most momentous interest on which the Catholic community had been called to act within the experience of the oldest amongst them, and the first occasion within 300 years on which Catholics had met in grateful recognition of the favour and service of a truly parental Government in conferring on them an endowment of a college for the education of their youth, in affiliation with a University established on the just basis of civil and rellslous equality. Neither in the seat of Empire at home, nor in the wide range of the vast British dominions abroad, had an institution till then been established embracing all the subjects of the State in one grand measure of comprehensive benevolence. The endowment, he continued, had been conferred in the true spirit of equal and impartial law, and imposed no condition but sincere and earnest co-operation on their part. It was also free from that illegitimate ascendancy gained by enriching one portion of the community at the expense of the other. There was also the great national advantage to be derived by the impartial distribution
of the aid of the State.
A MAGNIFICENT RESPONSE.
The public appeal, in St. Mary's Cathedral six months later, launched by Archbishop Polding, Mr. Justice Therry, Mr. J. H. Plunkett, and Mr. William Bede Dalley, was eminently successful. The amount of £ 12,000 was handed in at the meeting, and after the State had been canvassed the amount was increased to
£20,815. Plans of the college weie piepaied, and the building was proceeded with. The foundation-stone was laid by Archbishop Fold- ing on January 3, 1860. The building was ready for occupation wilhln two years.
Although St. John's was available for stu- dents in the early sixties, it was not till 1875 that the formal opening took place. When Archbishop Vaughan, who had been appointed rector in 1874, in succession to the first rector, Dr. Forrest, took up his lesidence at the col- lege, he resolved as the college had never been formally opened and blessed, to make a further appeal, which he led with a subscrip- tion of £800. Forty years later the Very Rev. Dr. Maurice O'Reilly, the successor of Monsignor O'Brien who was rector for 27 years, Initiated the third appeal, which realised £10,000, and did much for the modernisation of the college, and enabled the foundations of the new wing to be proceeded with. During Dr. O'Reilly's rectorship considerable progress was made. His art collections were regarded as second to none in Sydney, and were viewed by many interstate and oversea visitors.
SOLID STONE BUILDING.
In order to ensure the greatest stability to the building, and to prevent any settlement, the foundations of the college were sunk to a depth of 14 feet This step was considered advisable owing to the edifice being constructed of solid stone, with walls of great thickness, 60 feet in height. The tower which it Is now pro- posed to build, will be 24 feet square, and will have a groined roof. When completed it will be a notable landmark in the surrounding dis- trict. Four spires will be placed at the top of the tower. The massive buttresses which stand out four feet from the wall add consider- ably to the appearance of the college. The southern wing to be erected at the back of the rector's house will be similar in style to the principal building.
The present rector, the Very Rev. Father J. C. Thompson, CM. (Vincentlan Order), who is also director of Catholic education in New South Wales, aims at trebling the present stu- dent accommodation of the college, and the completion of the building according to the original plan.
The governing body of the college, established b" law, consists of the rector, Archbishop Sheehan, and l8 Fellows, of whom six are approved priests, and the following 12 laymen Sir John McKelvey. Drs. H. H. Schlink, J
Coen, R. St. John Honner, O. A. Diethelm, L. Kortum, and Messrs A. J. R. Watt, K.C., A. J. De Baun, P. H. Lewis, T. P. McMahon J. Lane ululllns, and G. E. Flannery, K.C.