Marshal and Floreilda Michael left behind successful careers in the education sector in the United Arab Emirates and for their first six months in Adelaide were out of work and living off their savings.
“I worked in a chicken factory and as a parcel deliverer for Australia Post and then I ended up with a temporary contract through an agency,” said Marshal, who was head of operations for an education group in Dubai.
For the past year, he has had a contract with a government department while Floreilda, a teacher, has found work as an educator in a childcare centre and is studying to gain her Australian teaching qualification.
Their two children, Melangell, 15, and Miguel, 8, attend Woodville High School and North Adelaide Primary respectively.
Raised in a devout Catholic family in Mumbai, India, Floreilda said when they were looking for somewhere to live her mother had told her it needed to be near a Catholic Church for when she came to visit.
The family found an apartment in North Adelaide just a street away from St Mary’s Church and were overwhelmed by the welcome they received from local parishioners.
“St Mary’s really welcomed us right from day one when we walked in as a family,” said Floreilda.
“They were all outside and they came up and spoke to us, it was such a kind gesture.”
“When you’re in a different country you think maybe people won’t take you so well.
“Even in the neighbourhood we would always get a ‘hello’, there was just such acceptance.”
Marshal said their children had bonded “so well” with parishioners and Miguel, in particular, looked upon them as “grandparents” and liked to “have a little chat with them”.
Recently Melangell was confirmed by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and Miguel received his First Holy Communion. Members of the parish attended the services in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and celebrated afterwards with the family at a restaurant.
“They were there by our side,” Floreilda said. “They all knew that we missed our family members so it was a magic point to see them there.
“We are really fortunate to be part of the St Mary’s community. The first acceptance they gave us has bloomed into so many things.”
Melangell, a talented musician who plays four instruments and is part of Woodville High School’s special music program, is an altar server at St Mary’s and plays the violin at Christmas and Easter. Miguel takes his job as a collector (with supervision) very seriously and is looking forward to serving on the altar soon.
Marshal is a member of the Community Life Committee and a COVID marshal while Floreilda assists with the music and the whole family performs as a small choir for special occasions.
Their faith is extremely important to them and they pray together every evening before dinner and then each person shares their own special prayer for the day.
“As parents we want that faith to go on; we ask from the Holy Spirit to give us that guidance to guide them to walk in His path, so they are aware that we are praying for this sort of guidance for them,” said Floreilda.
“We talk about all the simple blessings in our lives and explain that you have to be grateful for whatever you have.”
Parishioner Michael Frost said the Michael family had “enriched” the St Mary’s community by their presence.
“I know from personal experience that moving to a new country is a daunting task but each time we moved, joining the local Catholic community was a first step towards establishing ourselves,” he said.
“St Mary’s has a tradition of welcoming newcomers, some respond more than others, but the Michael family responded enthusiastically to our welcome providing validation to our efforts.”
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