German Catholic PioneersPrint Page
|Address:||181 McCrae Street, St. Kilian`s Catholic Church, Bendigo, 3550|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -36.75451|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Approx. Monument Dedication Date:||May-2010|
German Catholic Pioneers
Many thousands of Germans flocked to the Victorian diggings following the discovery of gold in the mid-nineteenth century. Of the non-British, European population the German group was by far the largest. The greatest concentration of this group could be found on the Bendigo field including those who were of the Roman Catholic faith.
This memorial serves to commemorate these German pioneers who, apart from their initial involvement in mining, establish outstanding reputations in numerous worthy pursuits.
Pioneer priest, the Rev. Dr. George Henry Backhaus D.D. celebrated the first Mass at the Bendigo diggings on May 2nd 1852. In November that same year, he was appointed permanently to the Bendigo (Sandhurst) district. He set up his first church approximate to the present St. Kilian`s Church site. Born in Paderburn, Westphalia in 1812, Dr. Backhaus was in Australia by 1847 ministering to the Catholic communities of Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Apart from a short return to Germany, he remained at St. Kilian`s Church until his retirement in September 1881. He died in Bendigo on September 7th 1882 and is buried in the grounds of St. Kilian`s Church, Bendigo.
The present St. Kilian`s Catholic Church is the third erected at this site. Designed by German architect, W. C. Vahland, it is of Gothic style and built of hardwood, oregon & kauri pine. Completed in 1888, it was blessed and opened on July 1st that year.
This plaque was erected by the German Heritage Society, Bendigo, Inc. to acknowledge and give recognition to these early German Catholic pioneers who, with visioned and faith, greatly contributed to the development and prosperity of the Bendigo community
President R. K. Sghulz
Secretary I. K. Walder