Eviston, John (Rev)

Date of Birth/Death:


Also known as Fr Eviston.

Fr John Eviston was born ca 1891 the son of Martin Eviston and his wife Sarah Kennedy in County Tipperary, Ireland. He ordained for the Adelaide Catholic Archdiocese in Ireland in June 1916, and arrived in Adelaide on the R.M.S. Omrah on 22 December 1916, where he became assistant priest to Rev R A Morrison at Salisbury. Fr Morrison and Fr Eviston created a ‘new era in Salisbury’, organising effective Church, picnic and social committees. Within six months, the combined committees of the Salisbury and Virginia parishes renovated St Augustine’s church and grounds and rebuilt and renovated the presbytery. Following an accident in the second half of 1917, Fr Eviston spent 3 months in hospital. He was already held in such esteem that, on his return to Salisbury, the united congregations of Salisbury, Virginia, Pooraka, Abbatoirs, and Northfield paid tribute to ‘his sterling qualities as a priest, and to the charm of his personality, which won him friends wherever he went’. While he was at Salisbury, Fr Eviston was the chaplain at Yatala Prison for 5 years. In 1919, several of the local children made their first Holy Communion at the prison after preparation by Father Eviston, who believed that these ceremonies brought back memories for and had an edifying effect upon the prisoners. His experience at the prison later influenced his support, in the face of community objections, for the foundation of the ‘humane’ Kyeema Camp (also known as Kyeema Prison Camp) near Willunga. This camp was established to improve conditions for prisoners and to assist their rehabilitation.

For four months from late 1923, Fr Eviston was assistant priest at Kapunda and, in 1924, he became Parish Priest of the St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Willunga parish until 1946. At his Sacerdotal Jubilee in 1941, it was noted that Willunga’s ‘beloved Parish Priest’ had spent most of his life as a Priest in Willunga. As he had in Salisbury, Fr Eviston in Willunga involved himself widely in the community and was a generous donor to Catholic charities and building funds. His organisation of the local Catholic Ball in 1937, which over 360 people attended, 137 visitors coming from Adelaide and suburbs, suggests considerable social and management abilities. He was a long-standing official at the Willunga Show and even managed to win his class in 1936 with his Jersey heifer. He is still remembered with great affection by parishioners of Willunga. Fr Eviston appears to have been at Thebarton in 1947 but the period from 1947 to 1948 is unclear. Newspaper entries show that at least from 1949 to 1954, he was Chaplain at Largs Bay Orphanage. While he was in Australia, both Fr Eviston’s parents died in Tipperary, Ireland. Some time later, in 1954, he returned there for the first time since leaving in 1916. Fr Eviston died on 5 November 1966 at North Adelaide and was buried at Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasadena, South Australia.


The Midland Tribune, Tipperary Sentinel and King’s County Vindicator, November 4, 1916, per Findmypast [Rev Eviston noted as being of Barronstown, Loughmore, Templemore when he departed Ireland for Australia]

Genealogy SA, https://genealogysa.org.au/

1916 ‘NOTES FROM THE CHURCHES.’, Chronicle, 18 November, p. 50. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87528565[Appointed assistant at Salisbury]

1916 ‘SHIPPING NEWS.’, The Advertiser, 18 December, p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5545514

1917 ‘NEW PRIESTS FOR AUSTRALIAN DIOCESES.’, Southern Cross, 5 January, p. 16. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166980326

1917 ‘Purely Personal.’, Southern Cross, 5 January, p. 15. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166980349

1917 ‘CATHOLIC NEWS.’, Southern Cross, 19 January, p. 13. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166980518

1917 ‘PRESENTATION TO THE REV.’, Southern Cross, 30 November, p. 13. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166984548

1917 ‘SALISBURY PARISH.’, Southern Cross, 3 August, p. 13. ,  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166983091

1919 ‘FIRST COMMUNION AT NORTHFIELD.’, Southern Cross, 22 August, p. 13. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167789902

1923 ‘DEATH OF A PRIEST’S FATHER.’, Southern Cross,  30 November, p. 13. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167737698 [Death of his father, Martin Eviston]

1923 ‘SALISBURY ANNUAL CATHOLIC PICNIC.’, Southern Cross,  2 February, p. 14. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167738931

1924 ‘FAREWELL TO REV J. EVISTON AT KAPUNDA.’, Southern Cross, 7 March, p. 8. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167745286

1925 ‘COUNTRY SHOWS.’, The Register, 23 October, p. 10. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64250058

1932 ‘KYEEMA PRAISED’, The Advertiser, , 6 September, p. 5. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article34699437

1933 ‘Family Notices’, Southern Cross, 28 April, p. 10. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167695438 [Death of mother Sarah in Ireland]

1936 ‘WILLUNGA’, Chronicle, 5 November, p. 14. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92347061

1937 ‘REPORTS FROM RURAL CENTRES’, The Advertiser, 17 August, p. 19. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74200073 [Morphett Vale]

1941 ‘FR. EVISTON HONORED ON OCCASION OF SACERDOTAL JUBILEE’, Southern Cross, 20 June, p. 11. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167770266

1949 ‘SEMAPHORE Y.C.W.’, Southern Cross, 4 November, p. 10. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167727288

1950 ‘CENTENARY OF ST. JOSEPH’S, WILLUNGA’, Southern Cross, 26 May, p. 9. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167729852

1952 ‘Largs Bay Orphanage’, Southern Cross, 22 August, p. 7. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167084674

1954 ‘News of churches and churchmen’, The Mail, 20 March, p. 56. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57692637



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