OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Mission in Australia past and present: Fides Dossier with documentation from Propaganda Fide mission history archives

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

Sydney (Fides Service) - It was the year 1676 when Dominican Father Vittorio Riccio wrote from Manila to the “De Propaganda Fide” College in Rome offering to lead a mission of evangelisation in lands still further to the east in the Pacific Ocean. In the letter, written 94 years before the explorations of Cook, he speaks of a vast country where ‘you walk two years before you come to the sea”. He was referring to Australia, a land of which he also drew a map, the first map in the history of Australia. The map, one of many precious treasures preserved in the Propaganda Fide Archives, tells the story of Catholic missionary work in that immense country, from the first settlements of courageous missionaries to the institution of the first Apostolic Prefectures thanks to the efforts and dedication of Marists, Picpus Fathers, Carthusians, Capuchins and many other missionaries who sailed to the Pacific and helped to evangelise the vast continent of Oceania. All this and more is contained in part 1 of a special dossier which Fides will publish on Saturday 5 March. Besides telling the story of evangelisation drawn from material in the Propaganda Fide archives, in exclusive interviews with Bishop Joseph Grech of Sandhurst and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia, Rev. Father Terence Bell the dossier will reflect on challenges to mission in Australia today. (MS-PA) (Agenzia Fides 1/3/2005 righe 17 parole 196)