Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan succeeded Archbishop John Polding as the second Archbishop of Sydney in 1877. When the New South Wales colonial government withdrew state financial aid to non-government schools in 1880, he led and inspired the Australian bishops and Catholic people to establish our own system of Catholic education.
Years before as a young man studying to become a Benedictine monk at Downside in England, he had a strange dream. He saw himself being sent to Australia for some great work and to then disappear into a blue mist. The dream had a profound effect on him. It prompted him to study a map of Australia where he saw marked there, the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. It was a curious presentiment of things to come.
Archbishop Roger Vaughan was a remarkable man but he had an extraordinary mother. Louise Elizabeth (Rolls) Vaughan was a convert to Catholicism. She and her husband, Colonel John Vaughan had thirteen children. For Louise Vaughan, becoming a Catholic was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her. In gratitude to Almighty God for her conversion, she would spend one hour each day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. She continued this devotion for more than twenty years. Not surprisingly the example she gave to her children bore fruit in abundance.
Six of her sons became priests and five daughters became nuns. Three of those sons were consecrated bishops. Her eldest son Herbert became Archbishop of Westminster in 1892 and Cardinal in 1893.
The word vocation means a call or an invitation. Young men and women who enter a seminary or a convent choose freely to do so. They are not conscripts but volunteers. If more Catholic parents and priests had even a smidgin of Louise Vaughan's faith, our present priestly and religious vocation shortfall, would be reversed in a generation.
Fr Barry Tobin PE