Searching for The Sentinel

We take photographs to record moments because the moment is precious. Photographs evoke memories from the past; memories of meaningful people, decisive events and significant places.

Along with memories come stories and often these stories create identities. This became clear to me as I found myself engrossed in the final edition of The Sentinel; the official journal of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, published for 37 years from 1931 to 1968. Much like Aurora today, its content included information and photographs about the diocese as well as news of Newcastle and surrounds, international news and editorial content.

As I flipped through the pages of the July 1968 issue recently located in Father Reg Callinan’s garage, I realised that The Sentinel is a souvenir of our diocese’s past. Advertisements for charity stores that still open their doors today captured my attention as did the unusual editorial on the matter of alcoholism written by a psychologist. Thankfully, it was certainly a different perspective from psychologists’ understanding of alcoholism today. Photographs of schools in the diocese renovating their buildings and upgrading classrooms were also included. Some familiar faces even made the journal, including Father Reg who wrote a column on the last page for several years.

The Sentinel holds the answers to many questions for our diocese. Not only does it record the dates of significant events such as the changing of Mass from Latin to English or the names of secondary school bursary winners, it reminds us of how far the diocese has come, the memorable events that have taken place and the people who have made it all happen.

As part of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s 150th year it would be wonderful to locate all the issues of The Sentinel. Local historian, Frances Dunn of Morisset, has initiated ‘the search for The Sentinel’ and has determined that the Mitchell Library has the only (almost) complete set. It is missing issues from October 1964 and May 1968.

Those members of the diocesan community planning events to celebrate 150 years would also like to see this important piece of history digitised and added to Trove Newspaper so that members of the public could easily access The Sentinel. However, the National Library in Canberra has advised that as The Sentinel is a considered a journal and not a newspaper, it cannot be funded by the Australian Newspaper Digitisation program. The diocese is now looking to raise $12,000 for the digitisation of The Sentinel.

Anyone who may have copies of The Sentinel hiding under boxes and dust in their garage − or an idea for a fundraiser for the digitisation of The Sentinel − is asked to contact Tracey Edstein, Editor of Aurora.

The Sentinel should not be left in the shadows of our diocese’s past. Ultimately, The Sentinel blends our diocese’s collective history with people’s personal memories to allow members of today’s diocesan community to connect with events and the people in the diocese throughout time.

If you can help, please P Tracey Edstein 4979 1288 or E

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