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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Eviston, John (Rev.)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual

Place of birth Tipperary, Ireland
Date of arrival 1916
Principal occupation Catholic Priest
Date of death 1966
Place of decease Adelaide (probably)

Fr John Eviston was ordained for the Adelaide Catholic Archdiocese in Ireland in June 1916. He arrived in Adelaide on the R.M.S. Omrah on 22 December 1916, and 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 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 Willunga Catholic parish until 1946. At his Sacredotal 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 Nov 1966.


  • W.A. Record Saturday 20 January 1917 p10
  • Southern Cross Friday 3 August 1917 p13
  • Southern Cross Friday 30 November 1917 p13
  • Southern Cross Friday 22 August 1919 p13
  • The Advertiser Tuesday 6 September 1932 p5
  • Southern Cross Friday 7 March 1924 p8
  • Southern Cross Friday 30 November 1923 p 13
  • Southern Cross Friday 20 June 1941 p11
  • The Advertiser Tuesday 17 August 1937 p19
  • Chronicle Thursday 5 November 1936 p14
  • The Register Friday 23 October 1925 p 10
  • Southern Cross Friday 28 February 1947 p 14
  • Southern Cross Friday 4 November 1949 p10
  • Southern Cross Friday 22 August 1952 p7
  • Southern Cross Friday 28 April 1933 p10
  • The Mail Saturday 20 March 1954 p 56

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