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Vicariate Apostolic of Kimberley
Vicariate apostolic; suffragan of Adelaide, erected by Leo XIII, 5 May, 1887. The Vicariate of Kimberley embraces the whole district of that name, and is under the Apostolic administration of the Bishop of Geraldton. The territory forms one of the six land districts into which Western Australia is divided, and in this, the northwest portion of the state, a plentiful supply of gold is found. The Bishop of Perth, Dr. Matthew Gibney, whose diocese was charged with the administration of the Kimberley Vicariate, was early engaged in determining upon a suitable place to organize a new settlement for the aborigines of the district. On 4 June, 1890, he set out in person, with Abbot Ambrose of the Trappist Order, to observe the conditions of the locality, and the journey resulted in the establishment of a mission station, the Holy House of the Sacred Heart, at Beagle Bay. In response to the invitation of Dr. Gibney, supported by the recommendation of Cardinal Moran, the fathers of La Trappe took charge of the mission. The natives, computed at between five hundred and six hundred, were found mostly on the western coast in the vicinity of Beagle Bay. The country was well wooded, deficient in water courses, but abounding in springs, with luxuriant vegetation in the neighbourhood of the swamps. A temporary monastery was constructed of wood covered with large sheets of bark, and at a few yards distance was erected a church of the same poor material. Difficulty was experienced in maintaining the staff of not less than ten promised to the Government in return for certain concessions, and the abbot was forced to leave the community for a year (February, 1891-March, 1892) through the necessity of obtaining recruits.
On the departure of the Trappists for Europe, the Pallotine Fathers, or Fathers of the Pious Society of Missions, were installed in their stead through the instrumentality of the Bishop of Geraldton, under whose jurisdiction the vicariate had meantime passed. Besides the chief house at Beagle Bay, the mission has flourishing stations at Broome and Disaster Bay, and from the beginning good results have been achieved in the work of Christianizing the natives. In 1903 stability was given to the undertaking of the erection of a commodious monastery and convent; the missionary body, too, was strengthened by the coming of one priest and five lay brothers. Since that date a new chapel and school have been raised. In June, 1907, nine sisters of the Order of St. John of God arrived at the mission from Subiaco, Perth. The community, under the direction of Mother Antonia O'Brien, is especially concerned with training the girls and caring for the sick. During the last three years remarkable progress has been made; the mission at the present time (1910) numbers four priests, twelve brothers, and nine sisters. There are churches at Beagle Bay and at Broome. Schools have also been established at these two centres: the former, a mixed school founded from Perth, has an attendance of 56 girls and 55 boys; the latter, also a mixed school founded from the Beagle Bay institution, has 39 pupils. Both are in charge of the sisters of St. John of God. (See AUSTRALIA, Period of Comparative Calm.)
Australasian Catholic Directory (1910); Annuaire Pontifical Catholique (Paris, 1909); Missiones Catholicae (Rome, 1907), 677; MORAN, History of the Catholic Church in Australasia (Sydney, s.d.), 583 sqq.; Gerarchia Cattolica (1910).
P. J. MacAuley.