The Scalabrinians arrived in Australia on 2 November, 1952. The history of their presence in this nation reflects the development of the Italian community and of migration in Australia.
In the initial phase they reached out to scattered communities of Italians, from the cane and tobacco plantations in Queensland to the groups in Tasmania, and New South Wales.
In a second moment they contributed to the formation of communities in the urban areas, particularly in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Wollongong, but also in smaller cities like Shepparton and Red Cliffs.
A third phase was marked by the involvement with the assistance to the ageing immigrant communities, particularly through the establishment of nursing homes and hostels, like the Scalabrini Village in NSW and Villaggio San Carlo in Victoria. At the same time the group reached out to other ethnic communities, particularly those from South America.
Currently, the Scalabrinians have further diversified their presence with immigrant groups, particularly the Filipinos and those of Portuguese and Spanish language, and have continued in a variety of services for migrants.
• 7 Parishes: 3 in Sydney (Mascot, Mt. Pritchard and Warringah), 2 in Melbourne (North Fitzroy and Lalor), 1 in Adelaide (Seaton), and 1 in Brisbane (New Farm).
• 2 Mission Houses: Wollongong, Mosman.
• 1 Church Office: Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) – Canberra. Fr Maurizio Pettenà, CS, the National Director, is also consultant to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development in the area of migrants and refugees.
• 14 Chaplaincies for Italians, Spanish speaking, Portuguese speaking and Filipinos in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Wollongong.
• Chaplaincy in 7 Villages for elderly people: Sydney (6), Melbourne (1). Membership on the Board of the Scalabrini Villages in Sydney, San Carlo Homes for the Aged in Melbourne and St Hilarion in Adelaide.
• Chaplaincy to the Italian Catholic Federation (National and state levels).
• 2 places for retired or semi-retired confreres (Bexley in Sydney and South Morang in Melbourne)..
In 1980, the General Superior, in his report to the General Chapter of that year, stressed, among other points, the necessity of a wider vocational promotion in all the provinces. For the Province of St. Frances Cabrini (then only in Australia), its Provincial Superior, Fr. Dominic Ceresoli, CS in his report to the same General Chapter 1980, wrote that, “while a vocation promotion effort is being carried on in Australia, the question is raised whether this effort should be made in the countries from which the migrants come; in particular, in the countries of Asia.” He went on to state: “In Australia itself the need is felt to have missionaries of different nationalities, since migrants into Australia are no longer Italian, but of other nationalities.”
On a circular letter to the members of the Australia Province in 1981, the same Provincial Superior Ceresoli wrote: “We are becoming increasingly aware of the need of new workers in the vineyard of the Lord, workers who are attracted by the ideal of Bishop Scalabrini... The future of our Province depends also from our capacity to raise from these lands “young people” who, inspired by the Scalabrinian ideal, commit themselves to share with us the service to those who happen to take their turn in the migration flux.”
The Assembly of Scalabrinian Major Superiors of 1981, issued a more precise invitation, “In view of the vastness of the new migratory movements and of the need to respond to the most urgent needs, (this Assembly) “invites the Province of Australia to study in close cooperation with the General Administration the possibility to establish a base of vocational promotion in the Philippines.”
In February 1982, during the Provincial Assembly of Australia Province, Fr. Silvano Tomasi, CS, Vicar General of the Scalabrinian Congregation, and Fr. Dominic Ceresoli, CS, Provincial Superior, presented a detailed proposal for the establishment of a vocational promotion base in the Philippines.
Several Fathers responded favourably by saying that “such a proposal was bringing new life into our Province which was otherwise at risk of becoming stagnant. It was truly a journey wanted by Providence.” When after some discussion the Provincial Superior asked for a vote of confidence, “the assembly responded with a clamorous applause."
From the 1st to the 7th of March 1982, Fr. Silvano Tomasi, CS and Fr. Dominic Ceresoli, CS encouraged also by a warm invitation extended to our Congregation by Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila, visited several Religious Congregations in Manila and on the 2nd of March they met with Cardinal Sin, who gave his approval to the opening of a base of vocational promotion in his Archdiocese. These two Fathers concluded their report of this visit to Manila by stating that “the realisation of this project in the Philippines not only responds to the request of our Rules of Life, given the present Filipino migration, but is realistically based on the vocational potential that is offered by the Filipino families that are religious and numerous (with many children), a factor which is missing in many industrialised nations.”
The first Scalabrinian missionaries, Frs. Anthony Paganoni, CS, John Iacono, CS and Luigi Sabbadin, CS, arrived in Manila during the months of September-November 1982. They spent the first two years in initial contacts and gathering of information. In May 1984, the first group of Scalabrinian candidates began their formation in what today is called “The Mission House”, 39, 7th Street, New Manila. In 1985, the seminarians transferred to the nearby newly built Scalabrini Formation Center, n. 41, also 7th Street, New Manila. In 1986, the first group of candidates were sent to do their novitiate in Italy, for two years. After their first vows in 1988, some were assigned to have their Theology in Italy and most of them, having returned to the Philippines, began their Theology in the Scalabrini Formation Center together with the pre-novitiate candidates. In 1989 these Theology students moved to a newly acquired property in n 4, 13th Street, always New Manila. After staying for 3 years in the existing wooden building, in 1992 they took up permanent residence in the Scalabrini Theological House of Studies, newly built in the same compound. The 1st and 2nd of June 1992, 4 Scalabrinians were ordained priests and two professed missionary brothers began their mission in the Province.
In his report to the General Chapter of 1992, the Provincial Superior observed that “our Province, from being a Province without direct commitment in seminary formation, became a Province in which seminary formation demands and will demand the commitment of a good portion of its personnel and financial resources."
Other developments followed: the beginning of Novitiate in the Philippines in 1993: first, housed at
no. 39, 7th Street, then in n. 41, 7th Street, in 2001 it moved to an annex in the theology compound, 4A 13th Street, and finally in 2004 to the house in Cebu. The Cebu newly built seminary had been first used for our philosophy students, beginning from 1997; then it remained empty for 2 years (2002-2004), until it became finally the permanent seat of the Novitiate. As of August 2010, in the same location, a newly built house for our Postulants was opened.
• 1 Church Office: Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI).
• 1 Scalabrini Migration Centre (SMC)
• 1 The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS): Stella Maris Pius XII and Stella Maris Ermita. Fr Paulo Prigol, CS is also the AOS coordinator for South East Asia Region.
• 1 The Scalabrini Centre for People on the Move (SCPM)
• A complete formation program in 4 seminaries (2 in Manila and 2 in Cebu)
The Scalabrinian presence in Indonesia began with the invitation to our Congregation and Province by a Mexican Servite Sister, Sr. Alicia Sandoval, to accept as candidates for the Scalabrinian Congregation. In 2001 our province accepted her invitation and, with the approval of our General Administration and of the Ruteng Bishop, it began vocation promotion and seminary formation in that country.
The Ruteng Scalabrinian seminary, adapted from an existing storage house, could adequately house up to 40-50 candidates. After the first two groups completed their preparatory or propaedeutic year in Ruteng, at first they continued with their philosophy studies in Manila, Philippines. But it became soon necessary to provide for their studies in Indonesia. After one year in a rented house in Jakarta, Java, a permanent home for the philosophy seminary was opened in Maumere, Flores, where they attend the philosophy faculty in nearby Ledalero, conducted by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Once they obtain their bachelor degree in philosophy, they transfer to the Philippines for their postulancy and novitiate.
•2 Seminaries: Maumere and Ruteng. Page 12 of 26
• A Mission in Batam Island at the Divine Mercy Parish and the running of St Theresia Shelter for Migrants.
It was in 2003 that surveys and consultations began to be made about a possible Scalabrinian presence in Vietnam. People in Vietnam and people in Australia and Philippines who knew about the situation in Vietnam, all encouraged our Province to begin vocation promotion in Vietnam.
In “The Missionary Project of the St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Province, Australia & Asia”, discussed and approved during the Provincial Assembly September 1-4, 2003, under n. 1 said: revised and approved by the Provincial Administration and the Assembly of Local Superiors, was “It is a source of joy for the Province to witness that their Scalabrinian charism is drawing disciples in many nations, and that the institutions established for formation have prepared missionaries from the Philippines and from other countries… At the same time, the Province intends to renew its efforts to see a greater number of young persons attracted by the inspiration of Blessed Scalabrini and willing to accompany migrants as “the harvest is plentiful but laborers are few.”
During the Provincial Assembly (19-22 April 2004), a project to open vocation promotion and formation in Vietnam was presented. The rather long debate on this issue concluded with a motion, approved by the majority, said: “In the spirit of Vocation promotion, the Provincial Assembly looks favorably to the opportunity of receiving into the Scalabrinian formation process applicants even from other Asian countries other than the Philippines and Indonesia, utilising the available premises and personnel in Manila.”
Fr. Carmelo Hernandez, Rector of our Theology in Manila, and Fr. Edward Pacquing, our Vocational Promoter in the Philippines, on a visit to Vietnam on July 6-10, 2004, contacted the Cardinal of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and several people and also a possible school of Philosophy our candidates could attend. Thus they summarised their report: “We found the terrain of Vietnam a fertile soil for Scalabrinian vocations. The Cardinal, priests and sister we talked to welcome our charism. All of them said that there are plenty of vocations in that country. The Cardinal is concerned with the Vietnamese migrants, internal and international.”
More visits were made to Vietnam, more reports and discussions were held. Thus we arrived at the Provincial Assembly of April 4-7, 2005. The Provincial Administration, in its annual report for this Assembly, included the following proposal n. 5 about Vietnam. "We plan to begin accepting candidates for the 2005 school year, e. i. August-September. Responsible: Provincial Administration and Formators in the Philippines”. According to the minutes of this 2005 Provincial Assembly, the proposal n. 5, put a vote, was approved “by a vast majority”.
On September 5, 2005, Fr. John Mello, as Vicar Provincial, on behalf of the Provincial, emailed all the Confreres of the Province: “Good news from Vietnam: on September 5, 2005, 10 young Vietnamese became the first candidates to enter and begin the school year as “Scalabrinian seminarians. Let us rejoice and pray for them.”
On September 10, 2005, our Father General sent our Provincial the official decree dated the 8th of September 2005 , formally authorising the beginning of the program of Scalabrinian formation in Vietnam and precisely in Ho Chi Minh City for the Propaedeutic year and for Philosophy.
• A “House of Welcome” for students coming from the Provinces to Ho Chi Minh City.
• 1 confrere serving at the ECMI-VIE (Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People).
After more than 10 years since the Scalabrinians began to think of working in Japan, Fr. Olmes Milani, Brazilian, working at the AOS, in Santos, S.P. Brazil, and Fr. Restituto Ogsimer, Filipino, working in Australia, finally arrived in Tokyo on 12 September 2003.
Hosted by the Franciscan at the Saint Joseph Friary, in Roppongi, immediately they attended Japanese Language classes during weekdays and visiting communities with migrants on weekends.
In compliance with the policy of the Archdiocese of Tokyo regarding foreign missionaries, on May 2004, Fr. Olmes Milani moved to Meguro Church (a former Benedictine monastery) in Shinagawa, and Fr. Restituto Ogsimer to Asakusa Parish, to be fully immersed with the local church and to have the opportunity to practice the language.
The aim of the SFC Province was to establish a Scalabrinian residence. After several meetings with the Archbishop Peter Okada Takeo and his staff, the 3rd floor of Meguro Church, where Fr. Olmes was already living, became our official residence. Effective Easter of 2006, Fr. Olmes was appointed Director of CTIC (Catholic Tokyo International Centre) Meguro office and Fr. Restituto of CTIC Chiba office. Fr. Olmes also ministers for Brazilian migrants in Saitama Diocese through an internal arrangement with the two bishops of both Dioceses.
Since the beginning of our presence in Japan, the provincial administration had in mind to send a third missionary to Japan. After dialogue with the Bishop Marcelino Tani Daiji, of Saitama Diocese, it was decided that Fr. Jose Alirio Gutierrez, Colombian, would be employed by the diocese but residing in Tokyo. Fr. Jose arrived on 2 January 2007. Currently he is still a fulltime Japanese language student and at the same time serving some Spanish speaking communities in the Diocese of Saitama.
• Tokyo and Saitama: Ministry to English, Tagalog, Spanish and Portuguese speaking migrants.
• Assistant Director of the Catholic Tokyo International Centre (CTIC).
• AOS Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Tokyo.
• Assistant Priest at Chibadera Parish (Tokyo Archdioceses) and Assistant Priests at Ota Parish (Saitama Dioceses).
After consultation with the Scalabrinians in Australia, the Provincial Superior at the time Fr. Dominic Ceresoli, CS initiated contacts with the Episcopal Conference of Taiwan in view of opening a Mission for Migrants in that country.
On June 2, 1994, the Archbishop of Taipei, Mons. Joseph Ti-Kang welcomed Fr. Edwin Corros, CS and Fr. Michael Cagna, CS as missionaries to foreign workers in the Taipei Archdiocese who would be responsible for the Office for Migration under the Episcopal Conference of Taiwan.
In 1997 Fr. Edwin Corros, CS was made Parish Priest of St. Christopher’s Parish, Taipei’s largest Parish (98% Filipino overseas workers), and
Fr. Michael Cagna, CS the assistant in the Parish and Chaplain to overseas workers. Attendance at Sunday Masses was in the vicinity of 3000 people.
KAOHSIUNG Mission: In February 1996 Fr. Bruno Ciceri, CS arrived in the Diocese of Kaohsiung as Director of the Stella Maris International Seamen’s Centre (one of the largest Ports in the world) to be joined by Fr. Edward Pacquing, CS and Brother Rizzalino Pongo. Their ministry extended also to the pastoral care of overseas workers in the St. Mary’s Parish (Kaohsiung) and other Parishes.
This Parish has now been entrusted to the care of the Scalabrinian Fathers.
Fr. Reynaldo Saavedra CS, 1999-2006, and Bro. Jose Guadalupe Hernandez (2006-2007) were assigned AOS Chaplain and Director of Stella Maris Seafarers Center. Fr. Luis Viovicente, CS was assigned Assistant Parish Priest in 2005-2006.
Fr. Roger Cortuna Manalo, CS arrived Kaohsiung in July 2005 to study the Chinese language and he was assigned Assistant Parish Priest at
St. Joseph and Chaplain to migrant workers in the Diocese of Kaohsiung (from May 2006 to December 2011) and Port Chaplain and Director of Stella Maris Seafarers Center (May 2007-December 2011).
Fr. Ranulfo Salise, CS became the Director of Stella Maris International Service Center in 2009 (to the present) and AOS Chaplain and Director of Stella Maris Seafarers Center in January 2012.
Fr. Franco Lacanaria, CS arrived in Kaohsiung in 2009 and started a fulltime Chinese language studies. At the beginning of January 2011, he was assigned Assistant Parish Priest at St. Joseph and Chaplain to the migrant workers in the Diocese of Kaohsiung and on January 15, 2012, he was installed Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Church in Kaohsiung City, the first Chinese –Taiwanese Parish that the Scalabrinians assumed in Taiwan.
• 3 Parishes: in Taipei (St. Christopher’s), in Kaohsiung (Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal), in Tainan (Holy Family’s).
• 2 pastoral services for migrants: Migrant Welfare Concern Desk (MWCD) and SIMNTaipei.
• The National Coordination of the AOS. Ministry to seafarers and fishermen in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
• Diocesan Coordinator of the Pastoral Care of Migrants (Diocese of Tainan).
• Chaplaincies to migrant workers (Cathedral of Kaohsiung, St. Joseph Parish in Nanzi, and in Tainan Diocese). Page 11 of 26
• Stella Maris International Center offering shelter and legal assistance to land based abused migrants. The center is meant as well to take care of the AOS and the fishermen according to the needs and requests.