An Italian priest in Adelaide 1927

In August 1927, an Italian priest, Father Vincenzo De Francesco visited Adelaide to provide pastoral care to the Italians living there. He lived in Melbourne where his role was to care for the spiritual life of Italians in Victoria. Father De Francesco stayed in Melbourne for 14 years from 1920 to 1934. In 1927 he travelled to Adelaide, Port Pirie and Broken Hill by train to work with Italian communities and was away for 30 days.

In correspondence to his superiors in Italy, he wrote about his brief trip to Adelaide: “After lunch, I head out in search of Italians. It’s not difficult here, as they all live in the same part of town.” (“Letters to Naples”, 2010 – De Francesco, ed. & translated Aniello Iannuzzi) They lived in boarding houses in the western part of the city of Adelaide. When he visited Port Adelaide where there were some Italians, he met a 90-year old man who arrived in Australia when he was a child. Father De Francesco was surprised that he had never been to confession.

In 1924 Father De Francesco had been told that  about 50 Italians lived in Adelaide. In 1927 there were 300 including some families. He was concerned that some children were not baptised and the Church was not a part of the family life. He acknowledged that most of the Italians were men and were working in the country or in mines and that it would have been difficult for them to attend Church.

He visited the Italian community in Port Pirie and Broken Hill. At Port Pirie there were about 200 Italians and in Broken Hill he found about 300 Italians

St Patrick’s church, Grote Street, Adelaide

The Italian Catholics in Adelaide usually attended Saint Patrick’s Church in Grote Street in the city. Weddings, baptisms and funerals were conducted from the church which was located in the west of the city where large numbers of Italians lived in boarding houses.

Students, St Mary’s College Adelaide. c 1946. Courtesy: Maria Tormena

 

 

Many of the Italian children went to school at St Mary’s Franklin Street adjacent to St Patrick’s. In the part of the city where the Italians live, a Veneto family owned a grocery and another Veneto family were owners of a butcher shop.

There were no Italian chaplains in Adelaide until after the war when Father Zolin arrived from the USA in 1946 and worked in the Brooklyn Park parish. He visited Italians in different suburbs of Adelaide. Some of the Veneto families remember him even today as a kind man. Other Italian priests came to Adelaide as chaplains in areas where there were large groups of Italians including at Mater Christi at Seaton.

Madeleine Regan
18 August 2019

Un sacerdote italiano ad Adelaide 1927

Nell’agosto 1927, un sacerdote italiano, padre Vincenzo De Francesco visitò Adelaide per fornire assistenza pastorale e spirituale agli italiani che vivono ad Adelaide. Abitava a Melbourne, dove il suo ruolo era quello di prendersi cura della vita religiosa degli italiani nel Victoria.

Padre De Francesco rimase a Melbourne per 14 anni, 1920-1934. In quel periodo visitò Adelaide almeno una volta.

Nella corrispondenza con i suoi superiori scrisse del suo viaggio ad Adelaide nel 1927: “Dopo il pranzo esco alla ricerca di italiani. Non è difficile qui perchè vivono tutti nella stessa parte della città.” (“Letters to Naples”, 2010. De Francesco, ed. & tradotto da Aniello Iannuzzi). La maggior parte degli italiani viveva in più di una pensione nella parte occidentale della città di Adelaide.

Quando Padre De Francesco visitò Port Adelaide dove c’erano alcuni Italiani incontrò un novantenne che venne in Australia quando era un bambino e non si era mai confessato.

Padre De Francesco sapeva che nel 1924 c’erano circa 50 italiani ad Adelaide. Ma nel 1927 aveva raggiunto i 300 includendo alcune famiglie.  Era preoccupato che gli italiani non andassero a messa e che alcuni bambini non fossero battezzati. Pensava che la religione non facesse parte della vita degli italiani. Ma c’era un problema perchè i preti nella parocchia erano Australiani Irlandesi e non parlavono italiano. Padre De Franceso capì che gli italiani lavoravano duro e molti uomini erano in campagna o nelle miniere e quindi non avevano tempo per assistere alla messa.

Andò a visitare anche le cittadine di Port Pirie e Broken Hill. A Port Pirie c’erano circa 200 italiani e in Broken Hill, una comunità di 300 italiani. Viaggiava per 30 giorni.

St Patrick’s church, Grote Street, Adelaide

I cattolici italiani in Adelaide di solito frequentavano la chiesa di Saint Patrick in città. Quindi matrimoni, battesimi e funerali furono condotti in quella chiesa. Molti dei bambini italiani frequentavano la scuola Saint Mary’s che era vicino alla chiesa. Era situata vicino ai posti in cui gli italiani abitivano allora.

 

 

Studenti, St Mary’s College Adelaide. c 1946. Cortesia: Maria Tormena

Nella zona in cui vivevano c’era una famiglia veneta che possedeva una bottega di generi alimentari. E c’era un’altra famiglia veneta che gestiva una macelleria.

Prima della seconda guerra mondiale non c’erano preti italiani che si dedicassero alla cura pastorale religiosa  degli italiani che abitavano ad Adelaide.

Non c’erano preti italiani ad Adelaide fino a dopo la seconda guerra mondiale. Padre Zolin, il primo capellano arrivò dagli Stati Uniti nel 1946 e lavorò nella parrocchia di Brooklyn Park. Visitava famiglie italiane in molte parti di Adelaide e alcune persone lo ricordano ancora oggi come un uomo molto gentile. Altri preti italiani seguirono e lavoravono in altre parti di Adelaide dove c’erano tanti italiani includendo a Mater Christi a Seaton.

Madeleine Regan
18 August 2019

2 thoughts on “An Italian priest in Adelaide 1927”

  1. When I read the “beginnings” of emigration to Australia I always feel and see the extreme conditions and the harsh emptiness of the land. Settling in a land devoid of any culture or historic background would have been extraordinarily challenging, moreso if you spoke a language that was not English and your background was not English. Devastating empty harshness of the land mingled with having to come to terms with a “culture” thast was not your own. I try to imagine how powerful and strong the first emigrants were, the pain and anguish they suffered. The arrival of the first Italian priest did certainly go a long way to help them express their fears and anguish to someone who could listen and guide them to slowly become part of the land that Australia was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.