THE BENEVOLENT SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF THE AGED AND INFIRM POOR. ANNUAL DINNER. December 1905

Page 23, 2nd December 1905

The Annual Dinner in aid of the funds of the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor was held on Monday evening at the Albion, Aldersgate-street, E.C. His lordship the Bishop of Southwark (the Right Rev. Peter Amigo) presided, and there were also present the Very Rev. Provost .Moore, the Very Revv. Canons Keatinge Moncrieff Smyth, Murnane, Pycke ; the Very Rev. Mgr. Wallis; the Very Revv. M. Kelly, 0.S.A., D.D., and J. P. Bannin, P.S.M. ; Sir J. Roper Parkington, Commendatore Hicks K.C.S.G., Colonel Maguire, Major White, V.D. ; the Revv. M. J. Bidwell, D.D., H. C. B. Campbell, T. Carey, H. W. Casserly, W. J. Condon, James Connolly, C. A. Cox, David Cox, J. Crowley, E. du Plerny, E. English, Stephen Eyre Jarvis LC., Hugh Kelly, Robert Kelly, H. R. Laughton, D. McCarthy, James Mahoney, W. H. Monk, E. B. Mostyn, Anton Midler, D.D., P. J. Murphy, S.M., J. M. Musgrave, Thomas Nolan, John O’Doherty, T. O’Doherty, A. H. Paine, James Powell, P. Riordan, T. J. Ring, E. Smith, J. Sprankling, F. Stanfield, J. G. Storey, E. A. P. Theed, Leo Thomas S.M., A. E. Whereat, D.D.; and Messrs. P. M. Albrecht, Alfred Ambrose, M.D., T. Baines, Frank Beer, Edmund J. Bellord, John G. Bellord, William Brown, James Carroll, John Christie, A. K. Connolly, John J. Connolly, J. A. Connolly, J. W. Connolly, S. Frederick Connolly, T. A. Connolly, John Conway, G. Henry Daniell, Edmund T. J. Egan, Edmund W. Evans, Reginald B. Fellows, M.A., Victor I. Feeny, H. MalMs Fisher, A. C. Fowler, Charles Hasslacher, Jerome S. Hegarty, James D. Hodgson, W. Skelton Hodgson S. Taprell Holland (Hon. Treasurer), Thomas Holland, J. M. Hopewell, J. E. Horrigan, John Hurst, John Hussey, Thgmas Hussey, William Hussey, R. H. N. Johnson, J. H. Joyce, T. Edward Lescher, Charles E. Lewis, Bernard J. McAdam James P. McAdam (Hon. Secretary), J. H. McCorry, J. M. McGrath, G. A. Mackenzie, E. H. Meyer, A. C. O’Bryen, E. A. O’Bryen, R. E. O’Bryen, W. Watson Parker, R. J. Phillips, George Schwdelin, L. J. Schdelin, H. Schiller, Robert Shield, E. Simona, Joseph Simona, Joseph Sperati, Philip S. Stokes, M. Sullivan F. P. Towsey, J. S. R. Towsey, William Towsey, C. H. Walker, Augustine E. White,Basil J. White, C. B. Wildsmith, William Wildsmith, A. E. Winstanley, H. Witte, C. J. Woollett, M.D., &c., &c.

The first toast was that of our Holy Father the Pope and his Majesty the King, which his lordship in a few touching works, expressing the loyalty of Catholics to Church and State, introduced. The toast of Queen Alexandra and the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family, was also suitably acknowledged.

SPEECH BY THE BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK.

His lordship the Bishop next proposed the toast of the evening, “Success to the Benevolent Society.” Even before the penal laws were repealed, said his lordship, in 1761, the Catholics of England gathered together and instituted a Society in order to relieve the poor Catholic families who were in need of assistance, and so our Society can boast now of an existence of nearly 150 years. (Cheers.) Therefore we as Catholics ought to be proud of those who have gone before us, who instituted this good work, the Catholic Benevolent Society. (Cheers.) If you read the report you will see that no less than 100 poor people in this metropolis were helped by monetary assistance and also by a gift at Christmas. These poor people, if our Society is really to succeed, ought to be extended to the number of 200. (Cheers.) We ought to increase the number by 100, and I trust this will be accomplished before the gathering next year. (Cheers.) There is one great drawback. If you refer to the balance sheet you will see that the Committee of the Society is really in debt to the extent of £39. I am afraid that, if we do not increase our subscriptions, we shall be the means of decreasing the number of pensioners instead of increasing them. Many of these poor people, who would otherwise be compelled to enter the workhouse, are now assisted by the Society in their declining days and if we are to be true to the memories of those who instituted the Society, we must do all we possibly can to push forward its interest. (Hear, hear.) I understand that £1,103 were collected last year. I should like to see that amount increased to £2,000. (Loud cheers.) I am a very poor Chairman on such an occasion as this, but if I can induce the friends of the Society to increase their contributions so that the sum I mention will be reached, then indeed I shall be proud of my position this evening as Chairman. (Cheers.) I feel that the Society has not only a claim upon us because of its old age, but because it has the wonderful faculty of uniting the North and South of London. It is a Society not only of the Westminster clergy, but also of the Southwark clergy, as well as of the laity who all gather together to vie with each other to do all they possibly can to help their fellow-Catholics. (Hear, hear.) It is a joy to see such a union, and it is one of those institutions of which we ought to be proud. (Cheers.) Before sitting down, and before asking you to accept this toast, there is one person who I notice has not been able to have dinner to-night. We have been thinking of our own special comforts we have forgotten the honorary secretary—(loud cheers)—who in order to make us as happy as possible has forgotten himself. He displays the same spirit to-night as he does in his work in connection with the Society. (Cheers). The Society owes him a deep debt of gratitude. (Hear, hear.) I ask you therefore to toast success to the Benevolent Society, and to it I add the name of Mr. McAdam, who is doing such a wonderful work for the poor of London. (Cheers.) The toast was suitably acknowledged with musical honours.

Sir Roper Parkington proposed the toast of his Grace the Archbishop of Westminster, the Right Rev. Mgr. Fenton, and the clergy of both dioceses. I think, said the speaker, that a very few words of commendation are necessary from me to ensure at your hands a most enthusiastic reception of the toast (Hear, hear.) I venture to think I shall voice the feelings of all present, as well as the Catholic body throughout the country, when I say we are very proud indeed of our Archbishop. (Cheers.) He has thoroughly come up to the standard of our expectations in the magnificent manner in which he has carried out the exalted duties of his office. (Cheers.) We are proud to know that he takes a deep interest in this work of charity. Cheers.) We are glad also to see how determined he is to see that all Catholic children should be educated in the religion of their parents. (Cheers.) I am at a loss to think why any one should be of a different opinion, and by carrying out these duties his Grace has endeared himself to all of us, and he has earned the esteem and admiration of all those who belong to other denominations. (Hear, hear.) He has proved himself a worthy successor of those three illustrious dignitaries of the Church— Wiseman, Manning, and Vaughan—who have preceded him in that position, which he now occupies with such distinction. (Hear, hear.) I am going to pass over the Chairman because I am certain his health will be toasted in far better terms than I can possibly express, but I come to the clergy of both dioceses, and I am sure we must acknowledge at once and without hesitation that a very deep debt of gratitude is due to them for the manner in which they carry out their arduous duties. (Hear, hear.) We recognise in Bishop Fenton a man who has devoted his whole life to the interests of our holy religion, and further as VicarGeneral he has carried out the duties of that office to the entire satisfaction of the clergy. (Cheers.) He has gained their affection, and I am sure he deserves all the eulogies we can pass upon him. (Hear, hear.) Therefore, I have the greatest possible pleasure in associating with this toast the names of my old friend, Canon Moncrieff-Smyth, whom we are delighted to see occupying the position he holds to-day. (Cheers.) The toast was received with musical honours.

THE ARCHBISHOP.

The Very Rev. Canon Moncrieff-Smyth humorously objected to the honour which had been conferred upon him by the Hon. Secretary in asking him to respond to the toast. My duty now, said the very rev, speaker, is to return thanks on behalf of the Archbishop, and I do so with the greatest possible pleasure. I said last year that in the Archbishop we have a man who fully realises the great responsibilities which have been placed upon him. (Hear, hear.) If I remember rightly, I said he had entered into a magnificent inheritance which he would hand down untarnished to his successor still more glorious. (Cheers.) We have in him a man who is endowed with tact, with firmness of character, and a determination that nothing shall be wanting on his part to see justice done to Catholic schools. (Cheers.) I know some have said we are not quite go-ahead enough, not quite pushing enough, but we may leave ourselves safely in the hands of his Grace. (Loud cheers.) He does not talk much, but when he does speak it is to the point. His Grace does not confide to the world his policy, but his policy is determination to fight the battle of Catholic schools. (Loud cheers.) Don’t think that because he holds his tongue he is not doing anything. (Hear, hear.) I can do no more than express the thanks of his Grace, and I promise you he will labour for you and for the interests of our diocese until death shall separate him from this work on earth. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Thomas Holland : 14 is the utmost pleasure to me to propose the health of the Right Rev, and genial Prelate who has been so kind as to preside this evening. (Cheers.) I understand that this is the first occasion on which his lordship has been amongst us at these annual gatherings of the Society, and we extend him a most cordial welcome. (Cheers.) I am struck by the dignity and the businesslike capacity which his lordship has shown to-night in the conduct of our proceedings. I can only hope that the knowledge of that acquisition may extend beyond these walls and excite the admiration of the Speaker of the House of Commons. (Laughter and cheers.) On an occasion like this a great deal must depend upon the choice of a chairman. It must, in fact, influence many persons in their attendance, and, so far as my observation has gone, the choice of the chairman has been eminently justified. (Hear, hear.) I think we, as Catholics, are assured that our interests are thoroughly protected by the Bishops. (Hear, hear.) I can only hope that his lordship may be preserved for many years to discharge his great mission. (Hear, hear.) The diocese of Southwark is one of the largest in England, and, despite the many heavy responsibilities, we are delighted to see that his lordship can spare a few hours to be with us. (Cheers.) I hardly like to dwell upon the merits of our chairman ; all I can do is to ask you, gentlemen, to heartily drink to the health of his lordship. The toast was received with full musical honours.

His lordship on rising was greeted with loud and continued cheers After jocularly denying that he was a genial man, his lordship continued : I thank you most sincerely for the sincerity of your reception, and I can assure you it is a great pleasure to me to come to this gathering and to see the close union which exists between Westminster and Southwark. (Cheers.) It is evidence, furthermore, of your determination to benefit the poor and to show that we love our poorer brethren. (Hear, hear.) I thank you most sincerely on behalf of the diocese of Southwark, and I can assure you that we in the South are only too ready to help you in the North, and to do our best to work with the Archbishop and his clergy for the benefit of the poor. (Loud cheers.) Mr. James P. McAdam, in reply to repeated demands, thanked those present for toasting his health : As honorary secretary of the Benevolent Society, it is a pleasure to me to be the means of assisting the necessitous poor. I desire to thank most sincerely the right rev, chairman, and to assure him that I appreciate his remarks about myself, although I do not deserve them. (No, no.) Although his lordship has not before attended these dinners, I know he has taken a very deep interest in the welfare of this Society, and of the poor of this great metropolis. (Hear, hear.) And to you, gentlemen, I have to return my hearty thanks for the kind way in which you have received my name. I can only thank you from my heart for the various kind sentiments expressed, and I thank you also for coming here to-night to encourage us and help us in our work. (Hear, hear.) It is now my duty to tell you the amount that has been collected this evening. It is £1,010. It is very satisfactory to know we have been able to reach four figures, but it is a little less (by £28) than the sum collected last year. That is not due to the want of liberality on the part of the gentlemen assembled at the tables this evening, but it is owing to the fact that the money I have been trying to collect has not come up to the average. I don’t, however, despair. (Hear, hear.) Everybody is complaining of hard times and bad business, and in consequence some have dropped out. However, I hope we shall in time be able to reach the average of past years. (Hear, hear.) In my dreams I sometimes look forward to a time when people will no longer have occasion to speak of hard times and when the secretary will have only to send out the notices for the money to flow in, and when it will not be necessary to make house to house collections for the benefit of the poor. (Hear, hear.) A gentleman near me remarks : “What about Joe Chamberlain and his policy ?” (Laughter.) Well, I will make a confession of faith on the fiscal question. A free-food policy which I strive for, and the free-food I plead for, is free food for our pensioners. (Loud cheers.) I may add I am an out-and-out Protectionist, but it is the protection of the poor to keep them out of the workhouse. (Loud cheers.) No amount of “dumping” will frighten me providing it is for the poor. (Cheers.) I thank you most sincerely for the support you have given our Society. (Cheers.) The Rev. E. du Plerny proposed the health of the Stewards. No man, said the rev, speaker, is sufficient of himself at such gatherings, and as Mr. McAdam fully acknowledges the valuable assistance he receives from the stewards, I think I have the guarantee of our honorary secretary that the stewards have done their work exceedingly well. A priest in a mission realises the value of stewards to help carry on the work of a parish. The priest retires while the work is being done, and if and when necessary his only duty is to admonish. (” Oh, oh,” and laughter.) That is the duty of the stewards of the Benevolent dinner. (Laughter.) The Rev. H. W. Casserly, on behalf of the Stewards, returned thanks. They really did nothing. I cannot say anything for the stewards, and in fact in my honest estimation I don’t think they deserve that anything should be said of them. (Laughter.)

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