Critch clan stand united
Family reunions are special.
To be quite honest, I have never been to one for my own family, well, not a formal one, that is.
Growing up, and coming from two sizeable families, I have been used to always spending Christmases together, and if any member celebrates a significant birthday, or gets married, we meet up again.
Despite this, the Fiorenza or McDermott clans have never had an official family reunion, but recently, another group of locals did.
The Critch family is pretty well known in the district, and often associated with farming.
Earlier this month, more than 100 descendants of Francis and Annie Critch came together at the Catholic Centre in Geraldton.
And the gathering even included members from as far away as the United States.
Now, the story of the Critch clan could be suggested as WA and Geraldton folklore, and begins when Francis Henry Critch arrived in Fremantle from England in 1863, at the age of nine.
His father, Henry, was employed as a guard, accompanying convicts on their voyage to Australia.
Francis was educated in Fremantle before going on to carve a career in newspapers.
He worked firstly at the Fremantle Herald as an apprentice printer before securing a job at the Victoria Express newspaper in Geraldton. The Victoria Express was a forerunner to The Geraldton Guardian.
In Geraldton, Francis married Ann Kelly at St Francis Xavier Cathedral and the couple moved into 162 Shenton Street.
They had 12 children.
Married at the cathedral, living in Shenton Street, and working at the local newspaper, you’d have to say the Critchs are real locals.
In fact, Francis Critch was also, for some time, a member of the Municipal Council and both he and Annie were dedicated to the Catholic church, and were great support to the Presentation Sisters, who are responsible for early education in the area.
Both were well respected, and when Annie died in 1921, an article in the Express stated: “There are few people who pass through life without making enemies, but that proud distinction was enjoyed by the subject of this notice ... to say whose life was a model to all”.
Francis died in 1930, in Perth, aged 77. To go through all and give proper justice to the descendants of Francis and Annie Cripps, we would need a book, and I’m sure the Critch family has one.
According to my friend, Gerry Eastman (nee Critch), who organised the event on September 7, it was a fantastic occasion. Gerry tells me only 10 of those who attended were local, meaning the Critch family have spread far and wide.
Family members attended a special blessing at the cathedral, a visit to Tenindewa, where the Critch’s farm, and the Pindar pub. They were even able to view the wreath flowers.
Oh, amore la famiglia...
Peter Fiorenza is the host of SHL Sunday 10am to noon on Radio MAMA.
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