The Salesians have had a long history of presence in South Australia, at Brooklyn Park (including Salesian College 1954-1996), Port Pirie and Gawler. The only remaining Salesian community is at Gawler, which was established in 1995. The community is actively involved in Xavier College, Don Bosco Youth and the Gawler parish.
The first group of Salesian missionaries arrived in Fremantle, WA, on March 30 1923 and were later joined by Salesian Bishop Ernest Coppo. Their intention was to work with the Indigenous people in the Kimberley region and educate the young.
Due to unforeseeable circumstances and the difficulties they encountered, some returned to Europe, while others moved to Melbourne to minister to the Italian immigrants. There they helped to educate the poor and abandoned young people in Victoria.
In 1958 the Province of Mary Help of Christians was established. This province encompasses Australia, Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand and there are 107 priests and brothers working in 15 different centres. Worldwide, the Salesians have more than 400,000 people in 30 different organisations aligned to Don Bosco, all committed to service of the young.
To mark their 100 years in Australia, an opening Mass and blessing of the newly-minted memorial of gratitude to all benefactors was held at Rupertswood, Sunbury, Victoria on January 24.
On January 28 there was further cause for celebration when Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB ordained five Salesian deacons to the priesthood in St Francis’ Church in Melbourne.
Other events planned during the year include the release of a commemorative book written by Fr Frank Moloney, recording the 100 years of Salesian presence in Australia, and a visit by the Rector Major, Fr Fernandez Artime Angel, in April.
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