Caroline Chisholm – Philanthropist & “Emigrant’s Friend”

Caroline was raised in an Anglican household that promoted philanthropic values (Rodney Stinson, 2015). In 1830 she married Archibald Chisholm, a Catholic, born in Scotland in 1795, who, at the time of his marriage was on leave from the East India Company Army. The wedding took place at the Anglican Church of the Holy Sepulchre Northampton. Walker (2011:20) maintains that even though Archibald was a Catholic, “It was a legal requirement that the wedding take place in an Anglican Church. The Catholic clergy were not legally empowered to hold and register services.” Stinson (2013, January) maintains that “Caroline Chisholm pioneered a new form of committed Christian discipleship: lay, married, and actively involved in the world for a fairer, better functioning society. This was a new path of social doctrine which emphasised praxis and service.” It is in this way that Caroline responded to the Gospel’s call to service and emulated the work of our Divine Redeemer by accepting his mandate to serve (Mk, 10:42-45). Geoghegan (2011:448) writes of “Caroline Chisholm in the context of a prophetic figure – a prophet of the laity. She was a woman ahead of her time in both the secular and the religious sphere. As a philanthropist and “Emigrant’s Friend”, she shared her vision and respected and valued those whose lives she worked so hard to improve. In addition, there was much mutual respect between wife and husband – Caroline and Archibald.