10. John Smyth (1875-1919), Oblate priest
Father Smyth built up a close following amongst Fremantle’s Catholics, serving for nearly 20 years at St Patrick’s in Fremantle and St Anne’s in North Fremantle.
Father Smyth was born in Dalkey County, Dublin. He trained as a priest in London, took theology in Liege, Belgium and arrived in Fremantle at the turn of the century.
In December 1918, Father Smyth became one of the earliest victims of the influenza pandemic. Already suffering from heart disease, he had little strength with which to fight back. He died on 7 January 1919. The Catholic Record devoted a broadsheet page to his obituary, describing his funeral as a ‘spectacle for angels and for men’.
The Catholic community took up a collection to provide a memorial for his grave. The resulting gravestone took the form of a large, granite Celtic cross. There are now several Oblate priests and brothers buried in the plot, and it has become a marker to help parishioners find their way around the Catholic section of the cemetery.