Edward John SYDES


SYDES, Edward John

Service Number: Chaplain
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Captain (Chaplain 4th Class)
Last Unit: Australian Army Chaplains' Department
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 24 November 1863
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Ipswich Grammar School
Occupation: Roman Catholic Priest
Died: Bronchitis, Wandsworth, England, United Kingdom, 15 November 1918, aged 54 years
Cemetery: Kensal Green (St. Mary's) Roman Catholic Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

15 Nov 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain (Chaplain 4th Class) , SN Chaplain, Australian Army Chaplains' Department

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Born 24 November 1863 in Brisbane, Qld.
Son of Samuel George and Rosanna SYDES
Aged 53 years
Enlisted 1917
Embarked from Sydney per 'Horata' 14 June 1917
Died 15 November 1918 of Bronchitis
Aged 55 years
Buried Kensal Green St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery

Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

Widespread regret was expressed on Monday, when the news of the death in France was announced in Sydney of Captain Chaplain, E. J. Sydes, S.J., formerly of St. Mary's, Ridge-street, North Sydney. It was learned from Chaplain T. King, London, by the Archbishop of Sydney on the 8th inst., that Father Sydes was ill with pneumonia, and on Sunday a later cable conveyed the sad news of his death. A splendid type of the Australian priesthood, Father Sydes was a great favourite not only in Sydney but in the northern State of Queensland. He was an eloquent speaker and his services were much sought after when special addresses were to be given. Father Sydes was born in Queensland in 1863, and next Sunday he would have reached the age of 55 years. He was educated at the Ipswich Grammar School in Queensland. From school he went to Melbourne University to study for the Bar, and after a distinguished course, in which he took many prizes, graduated M.A. and LL.B. Keen student, ardent cricketer and heart and soul in social life and movements, Edward Sydes was first and foremost a staunch Catholic; and at the very threshold of his University life he found occasion to assert and stand firm for the principles of his faith. The young student Sydes was faced with a trial of sincerity to which many a weak-kneed Catholic has succumbed. Resident in a Protestant college, he found that no provision was made for Catholics on Friday. He represented to the authorities, and, in spite of opposition, his firm stand that he would have either fish or nothing on Friday won the day, and fish was in future provided for the Catholics in residence. During this period his activity was far from being confined to the many phases of University life. He lectured in history at Xavier College, and Father Ryan, recently Superior of the Jesuits in Australia, found in him his right-hand man in sodality work and organisation. Called to the Bar in Brisbane, he rapidly began to forge to the front. His deep, resonant voice, his rich eloquence and his ready repartee could not fail to make of him a prominent figure in the law courts. At forty years of age the world was bright, indeed, for Ned Sydes, as his friends endearingly called him, when the news spread rapidly through Queensland that the brilliant young barrister had a higher call than that of pleader in the uncertain courts of human justice that, like the distinguished French lawyer, Pere de Ravignan, he was going to doff the gown for the cassock, and plead the cause of God with his fellow man.

On November 7, 1903, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Tullamore, Ireland. It is not easy for a man of forty to go back to school; it is less easy for him to settle down, with the cheery optimism and earnest piety of the beginner, to the various trials of early training in religious life. Yet all his fellow novices can attest that Brother Sydes, for such he had become, was the youngest and most light-hearted of the band. A genuine child of the sunny south, its bright warmth and radiance was too native to be dulled even by the heaviest banks of lowering clouds. After the usual two years' novitiate he went to Louvain to study scholastic philosophy,and thence to Milltown Park, in Dublin, where on the completion of his
theology he was ordained priest in July, 1909. A characteristic little trait of his deep charity and piety was that, whilst a student in theology, he obtained permission from Superiors to devote himself as nurse to an old Father of eighty, which entailed such humble little works as washing the old man's feet. After ordination he returned to Australia, and, with the exception of a year spent in India for the third year's novitiate required in the Jesuit Order, he laboured in Ridge-street. To say that he was respected and beloved by those to whose welfare he ministered would be but a small tribute to the memory of Father Sydes. In many States of Australia he was well known for his convincing eloquence. By the little children, irrespective of creed, he was especially beloved ; and we have just heard of an old man — a Protestant — who used to watch for hours for the passing of Father Sydes, and a bright little yarn to gladden his day.

Father Sydes was chosen by Superiors to replace Father Tighe at the front. He has told us nothing about his own work, but many letters have assured us of his whole hearted devotion to the "boys," of the grand work that he accomplished amongst them. The Jesuit Order has lost heavily during the great war,and Father Sydes is not among the least of their losses. But he has died nobly, in a noble cause, in a way surely that would please the soldier-saint of Loyola, under whose banner he had enlisted. May his death, and the death of her many noble sons to whose wants he ministered, be not in vain for Australia is, perhaps, the most fitting prayer we can breathe over the grave of Father Edward Sydes.

At St. Mary's, Ridge-street, North Sydney, in which parish Father Sydes' zealous labours for many years had won the love and affection of the people, a solemn Office and Requiem Mass for the repose or his soul was celebrated yesterday morning. The interior of the church was draped with mourning, and the catafalque was erected in front of the high altar. The Archbishop of Sydney sent an apology and his heartfelt sympathy in the great loss sustained by the death of Father Sydes. In addition to the large gathering of the clergy, parishioners and personal friends of the late chaplain, there were present representatives of the various religious communities, societies and the military, among whom were: Major T. J. Lynch (who represented Major-General Lee, C.M.G.), Major Harrison, Messrs. G. Smithers (ex-Stipendiary Magistrate), J. Barron(Vice-Consul, Brazil), G. E. Bryant,Julian Bryant, A. S. Callachor (St. Aloysius' O.B. Union), A. E. Dyer, D.Glacken, C. Lawlor (general secretary,Catholic Federation), J. F. Hennessy,J. Woods, C. G. Hepburn, J. Reardon (secretary, Catholic Club), WArmstrong (Catholic Club), S. M'Cormack (Chief Ranger, I.N. Foresters),J. J. Bradfield (Chief Engineer, Rail-way Construction Branch, an old schoolmate of Father Sydes), Right Rev. Monsignor P. Collins, P.P., presided, and was attended at the throneby the Very Rev. Father M. J. O'Reilly, C.M. (Rector of St. John's College), and the Rev. Father J. Brennan, S.J. The celebrant of the Mass was the Rev. Father E. M'Auliffe, O.B.E., with the Rev. A. Talon, S.M.,deacon, and the Rev. Father R. Piper,O.F.M., sub-deacon. The Rev. FatherM. Sherin was master of ceremonies.The chanters were the Rev. FathersJ. M. Kelly and J. Troy. The responses were made by a choir of priests, including Right Rev. Monsignor Moynagh, P.P., V.F., Very Rev. Father E. Nouyoux (Provincial of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart), Very Rev. Father P. Treand, M.S.H.,Rev. Fathers M. Rohan, P.P., R. J.O'Regan, T. Barry, M. Cusack, M. P.Kelly, O.F.M., J. Rohan, W. Barry, R. O'Dempsey, S.J., F. S. M'Namara, O.F.M., F. Laurent, S.M., E. O'Brien, J. Roney, S.J., P. J. Murphy, J O'Gorman (Adm., St. Mary's Cathedral), M. M'Namara, E. M'Mahon, D.Buckley, S.J., J. Hollis, S.J., X. Whitely, S.J., P. M'Grath, S.J., T.Carrick, P. Nulty, H. Cock, S.J., R.Ryan, C.M., J. Keogh, S.J., J. Kirwan, S.J., J. Breen, L. M'Kiernan, M.S.H., J. Forster, S.J., P. J. Tighe,S.J., J. C. Bartley, O.F.M., G. Birch,O.F.M., Wilfred Ryan, S.J., G. Byrne,S.J.

Rev. Father P. J. Tighe, S.J.,preached an inspiriting panegyric on the life of the late chaplain. Taking as his text, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things will set thee over many; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (St. Matthew, 25th ch., 21st v.), he said: --"Four words which flashed by cable across the wild waste of waters well nigh broke loving hearts and plunged the parish into a grief of great depth and intensity. These words were,"Father Sydes died today." They tell us so little and yet all too much. There is pathos in the message, because we were looking forward to his home coming. He will not come to us, because he has gone to his God and the world is the poorer for its loss. It is hard to realise that Father Sydes, breezy and cheerful, is dead. It is hard to realise that we will not clasp his hand and say "Welcome home."God has willed it otherwise. In the loss of the priest we love, you all suffer a personal sacrifice. Almost every home is in mourning in the parish, as Father Sydes was father, guide and friend combined. One could not be in different to his personality. From his earliest years it was so. He wound himself around the fibres of our hearts, and today we have many of his old-time friends paying the last tribute to his memory. The dominating note in Father Sydes was "Seek the Kingdom of God." For two-thirds of his life he was a layman fighting his battle in life. It was only for fifteen years he was a Jesuit, during which he fought bravely for Christ. In the University of Melbourne, in an atmosphere which at times was no doubt irksome, and at the Bar in Brisbane,the note "Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven" rang out. He soon forged to the front by his ability, and when at the zenith of his fame and manihood he cast aside his worldly aspirations and asked to follow his Master more closely as a Jesuit. In the years of study and labour Father Sydes endeared himself all the more to us. Those who knew him best loved him most. There is scarcely a home not blessed and cheered in the parish by the one we mourn to-day. Father Sydes' end was worthy of his life. He died a martyr. Many knew of his excellent health, but he never spoke of his great work. By this mail the message came that Father Sydes was ill through overwork, and when sickness struck him it found an easy victim. Father Sydes had died first for God and secondly for Australia. We mourn and would not, if we could, forget him. Far from the land of his birth, he lies under the weeping skies in exile. 'Tis well, for his exile is ended, as he is with God. He is at home. Today he is rich in the depth of your sorrow; and if he left home and friends who love him, does note very family feel he belongs to them! We shall not see him in this world. Never will his voice resound from the pulpit, never will he offer the Sacrifice of the Mass or console you in the confessional. We pray may Jesus Christ in His infinite mercy have mercy on him. May the sweet Mother of God pray for him. And may we all profit by his example and meet in God's home, where God shall wipe all tears from our eyes and sorrow from our hearts. May his soul and all the souls of the departed rest in peace. The last absolutions were pronounced by Monsignor Collins, at the close of which the "Dead March in Saul" was played by the organist, Mr. A. Hahn, and the "Last Post" was sounded from the gallery.

Freeman's Journal Thursday 21 November 1918 page 15