50 years of Polish priests in Tasmania
Tasmania’s Polish community has recently marked 50 years of pastoral work by the Society of Christ in Tasmania.
Founded in Poland and now located in 20 countries around the world, the Society of Christ Fathers (SChr) are dedicated to the spiritual care of Polish communities based outside of Poland.
The first SChr priest in Tasmania, the late Fr Franciszek Feruga, first celebrated Mass in Tasmania on August 1, 1970 at St Therese of Lisieux Church in Moonah.
Since 1970, seven priests from the Society of Christ have served in Tasmania.
Priests from the SChr community are now an integral part of the Moonah-Lutana Parish, celebrating Mass in Polish, and also English Masses at Rosary Gardens nursing home in New Town and within the parish when the parish priest is absent.
A monthly Mass in Polish (currently postponed due to the coronavirus) has also been celebrated at the Church of the Apostles in Launceston by the SChr Fathers since 1970.
Current chaplain to the Tasmanian Polish community, Fr Jozef Migacz SChr, who has served in seven parishes across Australia, said it was rewarding to serve Polish faith communities.
“Wherever you are, you’ve got to love the people, you have to work for them,” Fr Jozef said.
Fr Jozef said it was particularly rewarding for SChr priests when they are able to baptise the children or grandchildren of couples that they had previously married.
Honorary Consul of Poland, Edward Kremzer, congratulated the Society of Christ for its 50 years of mission in Tasmania and for their continuing spiritual guidance and pastoral care which has enabled the Polish community to fully participate in the Catholic faith.
The President of the Polish Church Committee, Adam Cislo, said the SChr’s priestly ministry “means everything” to Tasmania’s Polish parishioners.
Mr Cislo said a highlight of the 50 years of the SChr’s ministry in Tasmania were the visits of St John Paul II, firstly as Cardinal in 1973 where he stayed overnight at the St Therese’s Church presbytery and then visiting again as Pope in 1986.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the SChr’s ministry in Tasmania, Mr Cislo also celebrated a personal milestone – 50 years of marriage to his wife, Wanda.
Mr and Mrs Cislo, of Moonah, who have two children and three grandchildren, were married in southeast Poland on the same day that the first Mass was celebrated by the SChr in Tasmania.
To mark their anniversary Mr and Mrs Cislo were presented with a Papal Blessing certificate by Fr Jozef after Sunday Polish Mass at St Therese of Lisieux Church.