New Norcia Benedictine Community

Abbot Placid Memorial Scholarship


In the Archives resides a collection of material that holds the story of New Norcia.  Comprising diaries, chronicles, photographs, maps, letters and reports, the story told in the Archives reflects the themes of the whole nation.  And what is unique, is its perspective.  Uniquely, the story is told from a European point of view, rather than the traditional colonial Anglo-Irish. Because of this the riches of the New Norcia Archives remain largely unexplored.  Many of the records are locked up in foreign languages, predominantly Spanish and it is the purpose of the Scholarship to assist in the unlocking of this unique heritage.

In 2009, in memory of New Norcia’s late Abbot, Fr Placid Spearritt, the Community founded a scholarship that will bring a scholar to New Norcia each year to work on a specific project using the monastery’s archival material. The results of the research would then be made available to everyone interested in Australian history.

Research to date has seen the translation of the letters of Théophile Bérengier, Abbot of Marseilles in France and his hitherto untranslated history of New Norcia.  Other collections of letters now transcribed and translated include those of Léandre Fonteinne (Dr Peter Gilet), one of the very first monks to arrive with Salvado, and those of Canon Raffaele Martelli (Dr Joshua Brown and Dr John Kinder), a close friend of Salvado's.

Dr Stefano Girola, lecturer in the School of Theology (McAuley Campus) at the Australian Catholic University has also translated Salvado's 1833 Report to Propaganda Fide.

The Abbot and the Archives Research and Publications Committee are delighted to announce the APSMS scholars for 2016.  As in 2013, it was a difficult decision but, in the end, the Selection Committee decided upon Eugenia Schettino and Bob Reece as the ones who best fulfilled the ambitions and goals of the Abbot Placid Scholarship.

Eugenia Schettino is already well known to archives as she was Judy McGuinness’ critical reader for the Salvado to Bérengier transcriptions and translations which were completed by Judy during 2014 and 2015.  Eugenia was born in Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico.  She has a BA in Translation in English, French, Italian and Portuguese from the Superior Institute of Interpreters and Translators (ISIT) in Mexico City and has been working as a translator for 25 years. In 1995 Eugenia became a Spanish Teacher, then an English Teacher in 2004 and she lived in York, England, for 4 years where she worked as a Translator and a Spanish Teacher for the University of York. She has been living in Perth, Australia with her husband and two children for the last 10 years. Translating, teaching Spanish, studying the origin of languages, learning about history and travelling are her passions in life.  Eugenia’s scholarship will allow her to transcribe and translate the substantial correspondence of Santos Salvado, Bishop Salvado’s brother. 

Our other Scholar is also well known to New Norcia Archives.  Bob Reece is Professor Emeritus in History at Murdoch University and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of W.A.  With an M.A. from the University of Queensland and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University, he taught at Murdoch University from 1978 and at University College Dublin from 1987 until 1989.  His interest in New Norcia was sparked by his biographical work on Daisy Bates (Daisy Bates: Grand Dame of the Desert, 2005) and her Victoria Plains informant, William Monop, which led him to publish a number of articles for New Norcia Studies and The Invincibles: New Norcia’s Aboriginal Cricketers 1879-1906 (2014). His most recent work is on the early images of New Norcia and how they were used by Bishop Rosendo Salvado to publicise its achievements overseas.  Bob’s Scholarship will further those studies into the images created by the itinerant photographer, W W Thwaites, and the photographs taken by Santos Salvado.

Congratulations to Eugenia and Bob – we wish them well in their research.  The Abbot and the Archives Research and Publications Committee would also like to take this opportunity to thank once again all those benefactors who contributed so generously towards the Abbot Placid Spearritt Memorial Scholarship.  The Scholarship has permitted us to further research into the holdings of the monastery’s archives and this has resulted in the publication of three books (2014), the launch of another book (the 1883 Report to Propaganda Fide) in November this year and the correspondence between Bishop Salvado and Théophile Bérengier which we hope to publish later next year.

Peter Hocking


If you have any queries or require further information, please contact Fr David Barry at during July, or Peter Hocking, the Archivist, at from August onwards.