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Vicar's Musings for the Second Sunday in Advent

7 December, 2014

Today at High Mass we warmly welcome members of the La Trobe Society - as has become our yearly custom - to commemorate the death on 4th December 1875 of the first Superintendent of the Port Phillip District and Lieutenant-Governor of the colony of Victoria. Our service at St Peter's coincides with a similar memorial to be held at the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Litlington, in the Diocese of Chichester, where Charles La Trobe is buried. The La Trobe Society arranged for a bouquet of Australian native flowers, so loved by La Trobe, to be delivered to St Michael's on the day before their service. I also have sent greetings on behalf of our parish to the new Vicar of St Michael's the Archangel parish, the Rev'd Daniel Merceron. It is a good connection between our two historic parishes. The story of Governor La Trobe is well versed (see http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/la-trobe-charles-joseph-2334) but I would like to reflect briefly on one aspect of his life in my musings today. His faith. One could argue that Victoria ended his career and killed his wife Sophie, whose death he tragically had to read of in a newspaper just a short time before he was due to join her in Switzerland. It was a costly placement, and the greed of gold-fever made the State wealthy but incredibly hard to govern. But the principles that drove our first Governor are clear, as was reported in the Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser on 7 October 1839, just four days after his arrival:

I pray to God, to whom I look for strength and power, that whether my stay among you as chief organ of the Government be long or short, I may be enabled, through His Grace, to know my duty, and to do my duty, diligently, temperately and fearlessly .... It will not be by individual aggrandizement, by the possession of numerous flocks and herds, or of costly acres, that we shall secure for the country enduring prosperity and happiness; but by the acquisition and maintenance of sound religious and moral institutions, without which no country can become truly great.

It was with this vision in mind that La Trobe laid the foundation stone of our little church on Eastern Hill in 1846, out in the bush, before even a bishop had been appointed. And it is the legacy of this vision that should continue to drive us, in a world that places less and less value on such things, as we seek to proclaim the gospel from Eastern Hill to the City that has now engulfed us.

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster


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