This Murray Pilgrimage re-enacts the route taken in October 1866 by Bishop James Murray after his warm reception at Morpeth Wharf. Murray, together with Archdeacon McEncroe and other clergy, had sailed from Sydney aboard the steamer “Collaroy”, continued up the Hunter River arriving at Morpeth Wharf to “hearty cheers” resounding in the air. Murray then completed the trip into Maitland by carriage, but we as pilgrims will walk some 12.4 km, mostly roadside along a route very ‘do-able’ for anyone of average fitness and walking ability.
As 2016 pilgrims we will gather early on the Saturday at the Corcoran Parish Centre, Morpeth, chosen for parking and gathering convenience. We will pause for the first of six stops at Morpeth Wharf, meet some interesting historical personalities, then follow the mighty Hunter River upstream alongside the convict-built road into Maitland, deviating as Murray had, uphill to St Joseph’s Church at East Maitland, then continuing down and across Wallis Creek. Murray’s triumphant entry into the precinct of St John the Baptist Cathedral was heralded by the ringing of the cathedral bell. Alas, not for us. St John’s bell within the impressive tower is to toll the very next weekend Sunday 6 November, when all members of the community are invited to gather for the dedication of the restored Cathedral, thereafter to be known as St John’s Chapel.
It is worth noting here and acknowledging the role of the early pioneering priests in fostering community prior to the arrival of James Murray as he came to claim Maitland as his Bishopric and St John the Baptist as his Cathedral. Following the itinerant ministries of Fathers Connolly and Therry, then the residencies of Fathers Watkins, Dowling, Mahony and the ‘mighty Dean Lynch’ (as John O’Brien, Catholic priest and author, described him), a strong Catholic community was indeed well established.
And the ‘fine print’ of this Murray Pilgrimage?
Details around route and hospitality are currently being planned, so be sure to read the September Aurora. Pilgrim registration will be required for safety and will take place via the diocesan website during September.
So come journey together on the Murray Pilgrimage….and praise God for companions on the journey, both seen and unseen.
Please visit the diocesan website.