Fr Dominic Phillips, C.M.

History Corner
By Brian Johnston

Father Dominic Phillips, C.M. was the first Chaplain of the Catholic Deaf in NSW (and in Australia) from 1935 to 1937. He was the first Catholic Priest in
Australia to give regular spiritual instruction to the Deaf in their own sign language.

Portrait of Fr Phillips

He gave a Mission to the Catholic Deaf Adults at Strathfield in January 1932. He travelled to Melbourne, Newcastle and Brisbane giving Missions and
Retreats to the Deaf. It was Fr Phillips who brough t the needs of the Deaf to the notice of the Catholic Women’s Association who formed the social sub”
committee which provided the Deaf a club room on Friday nights. Fr Phillips’ sister, Norah Dyer was one member of the devoted band of hearing ladies headed by Bella Thornton and then Jeanne Crowe, known as the Ladies Auxiliary.

Fr Phillips was born in Sydney on 30 August 1903, one of seven children of Joseph and Bridget Phillips. Besides three siblings who died young, he had three sisters, Norah (Mrs Dyer), Mary (Mrs McDonald) and Margaret (Mrs Briscoe, Deaf). Fr Phillips was an uncle of Molly Strano and Paul Briscoe, both Deaf.
Fr Phillips entered the Novitiate of the Vincentian Fathers in 1922 and was ordained in 1927. In 1937 he became the Spiritual Director at Mosgiel College in New Zealand and his withdrawal from the Deaf of Australia was a severe blow, for it was due to his interest in them that the Adult Deaf became firmly welded together into united groups for their spiritual and social benefit. Fr Phillips was succeeded by Fr G. Templeton in 1937.

Fr Phillips later worked in Victoria 1953″1955, Queensland 1956, South Australia 1957″1964 and Queensland 1966 until his death on 7 February 1970 at the age of 66. He was buried in North Rockhampton Cemetery.

Sources: Australasia Adult Catholic Deaf and Dumb magazine ‘Past & Present’, ‘History of Catholic Deaf Education in Australia‘ book, ‘Open Minds Open Hearts’ book and ‘The Silent Messenger’ newsletter.

Author: ephpheta

Community Liaison Officer for Ephpheta Centre www.ephpheta.org.au

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