Mosman Voices - oral histories online

Terry Forrest

Interviewed by Zoe Dobson on 16 October 2003

Terry Forrest. In 1943 there was a big change in the hierarchy of Mosman because a Priest came there called Father Cusack who changed the scenery a little bit. Anybody who has had anything to do with the Catholic Church in Mosman will realise that he was a very, very outspoken person who to me alienated a number of people but his piety and enthusiasm were absolutely undoubted. But I have a feeling that the Marist Bros – and I don’t know about the Nuns – but the Marist Bros were quite beholden to him for their tenure of the school. . . . He was ultra conservative, absolutely and I have a feeling if the Bros, and it is only a feeling, and it is probably important that I tell you this, that if the Brothers stepped out of line they would have been told to pack their bags and go and he would have found some other organisation to run the school.

Zoe Dobson. So he was very autocratic, what with connections to the hierarchy?

Terry Forrest. I wouldn’t think so. . . . He achieved a tremendous amount in that Church. There is no doubt about it. You never see the Church today as packed as it was then. He had everybody frightened to death of eating meat on Friday, or the girls coming to Church without long sleeves. If you were a minute late he had no trouble controlling that because the first thing he did when he came there was to buy this huge chiming clock and hang it on the wall outside his Confessional on the right-hand side of the Church so that when Mass was due to start at 6.30a.m. the clock chimed, ding-dong, 1,2,3,4,5,6 and he marched on to the alter and if you came in late he’d stop, turn around – because in those days of course Mass was said to the back of the congregation, but it didn’t seem to worry him, he had eyes in the back of his head if you came in late. But he had us all scared to death I can tell you.

Zoe Dobson. How long was he there for?

Terry Forrest. Until he died.