For the love of God
: a history of some missionaries of Sacred Heart in the Top End of the Northern Territory

  • Wendy Elizabeth Beresford-Maning

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    My initial intention in this thesis was to record the lives and work of three Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSCs) whose contribution to the life of the Northern Territory is historically significant to Northern Territory. Priests and brothers of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic order founded in France in 1854 were, after 1906, responsible for the maintenance of the Catholic Church in the Northern Territory. The three MSCs on whom this study is based are Father John Leary, Brother Gerry Burke and Brother Ted Merritt. Together they represent the breadth of missionary activity – the priest, the teacher and the ‘jack-of-all-trades’. The MSCs have not only been responsible for all Catholic missionary activity with the Indigenous people in the Northern Territory but also for the pastoral oversight of the non-Indigenous Catholic community.

    The thesis situates itself at the intersection of oral history, religious history and biography. It is organised into Landscape and Portrait chapters. The Landscape chapters provide the historical and, where relevant, theoretical contexts for the Portraits. Given the nature of the study these contexts necessarily include some discussion of Australian religious history, the contexts of Aboriginal affairs and ways in which these intersect with the Christian missionary enterprise. The biographical chapters are contextualised within a discussion of historiography and the often contested areas of memory and truth.

    The centrality of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the thesis also required a chapter on the founder, Father Jules Chevalier MSC, which provides both a portrait and a context for the work. Since I write from a non-Indigenous and Christian perspective, I allow Indigenous voices to speak for themselves where I can.
    Date of AwardNov 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Carment (Supervisor) & Christine Doran (Supervisor)

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