After World War II, many Croats left their homeland and immigrated to Australia. Many of them have found refuge and a new home in Adelaide. At that time, the Croats of Adelaide did not have their own Croatian priest.
Archbishop Dr. Matthew Beovich, who was himself a Croat by birth, delegated Fr. Luke Roberts, to be a priest for the Croats who began to gather at St. Mass in the church of St. Patrick in town.
The first Croatian priest to visit Adelaide was Fr. Čokolic, from Frementle, Western Australia. That was in June 1952. After a few years, in 1956 to be precise, Fr. Rok Romac who stays in Adelaide for a year and that can be taken as the year of the founding of the Croatian Catholic Center.
After him comes Fr. Ivan Mihalić, who remained until 1971, when Don would take care of Croatian Catholics in Adelaide. Nikica Dusevic, who remained until 1996. During Don. In 1985, the community of Nikica Dušević bought the parish house and built a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of the Great Croatian Vow”. During Don. Nikice also stayed in Adelaide for a short time. Mato Križanac, as chaplain.
After 1996, the care for the Croatian community will be taken over by a young priest, the Diocese of Đakovo, Rev. Ilija Jokić, who will remain in Adelaide until 2000, when Rev. Luka Pranjić, July 1, 2000, to take care of Catholic Croats in South Australia.
It is important to note that the “Adorers of the Blood of Christ” sisters also work in the community. The sisters came to Adelaide in 1973, and have been working and assisting the priest in fulfilling the pastoral needs of the community ever since. They lead the church choir, religious instruction, and assist in other pastoral affairs.
The mission cares for the spiritual needs of all believers living in the area of South Australia which spatially covers 984. 381 km. That is 12.5% of the Australian continent. From the eastern to the western border 1200 km, and from the southern to the northern border about 2000 km.
Adelide has more than a million inhabitants. In the parish file we have 900 families living in the city of Adelaide itself and its surroundings.
Other branches of South Australia are: Port Lincoln, 650 km away. from Adelaide. Whayalla, 450 km., Coober Pedy, 850 km., Mintabie, 1200 km., Berry and Ranmark, 260 km., Mount Gambier, 500 km., Adelaide.
We try to go to these branches once a year. In the pastoral visit, people visit to bless their families and home, and as the culmination of it all, St. Mass for all of them and their needs in the Croatian language, which is of special importance for them.
The mission to Adelaide had many pastoral needs. Rev. Ilija Jokić founded the parish councils: Pastoral and Economic. The councils operate and work both now and are of great help in organizing, either the spiritual life or other activities taking place in the community. Due to pastoral needs (there are many elderly and sick in the parish) there are extraordinary deacons of Sts. Communions, which carry St. Communion to those who cannot come to the Sunday of St. Mass. In addition to them, there are other groups in the parish: Readers, a large church choir: “St. Cecilia”, a children’s choir, ministers, a prayer community “Blood of Christ”, which gathers every Wednesday, and a prayer community that performs devotion on the first Friday.
Recently, a group of young people “Young Flames” was founded, which animate Sv. Mass for young people. The community gathers on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mass in the Church of St. Patrika at Grote Street, Adelaide.
The church belongs to the Archdiocese of Adelaide, and the Croats use it for the needs of the Croatian community. The Mass is between 300 and 400 people.
A SMALL COMMUNITY OF GREAT EFFECTS
Writes: Dr. Zdenko Spajić
The Croatian Catholic Center of Adelaide is located in the Australian federal state of South Australia and, apart from the city itself, covers the entire area of this province. The beginnings of this center are related to the arrival of Rev. Roko Romac in 1956 who was the first permanent priest in this city. There are currently about 930 Croatian families who settled in Australia for the most part after World War II and the latest wave followed during the last war, or rather after the war ended when families who were in exile in Germany and some other European countries instead of returning, either because of objective difficulties or out of the belief that there was no life in the former homeland, they decided to go to these distant lands. Here, in addition to factory and construction, they are engaged in a variety of jobs, from viticulture and family farming to fishing to shipbuilding and digging opal gemstones. The pastoral care of Croatian emigrants has been led since 2000 by a young and gifted priest of the Vrhbosna Archdiocese, Rev. Luka Pranjic. He is also assisted in his pastoral care by the Sisters of the Society of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, who have been in the Adelaide area since 1973.
The Croatian mission in Adelaide is in many ways specific, not only in relation to Croatian parishes on other continents, but also in Australia itself. Unlike, for example, Sydney and Melbourne, where there are many more Croatian emigrants and who have three Croatian missions each, Adelaide is relatively small both in terms of population and the number of Croatian believers. People here like to say that they live “in the countryside”, there is no big city center nor city bustle characteristic of big cities. The wider area of the city stretches for about 80 km and has about one million inhabitants. In addition, this community does not have its own church. Unlike some other communities that have their own churches, large halls for organizing cultural events. The mission to Adelaide has, in addition to the house for the priest, a small chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of the Great Croatian Covenant” where Mass is celebrated on weekdays. For Sunday and holiday celebrations, this community gathers in the church of St. Patrick, which the Archdiocese of Adelaide made available to the Croatian mission.
Scattered in many suburbs, Croats in this city have nevertheless managed to build a visible community and preserve their national identity and specificities gathered around various cultural institutions. The specificity of this community is that for a long time they had the Croatian Home as the center of all Croats in this province, which brought together all Croatian emigrants in this area and around which all social and cultural activities were organized. Many point out that Adelaide was for a long time the only Croatian enclave that was not divided. However, as much as it was an advantage, so much the same fact was a disadvantage. While in other Croatian enclaves there are generally more parallel institutions, often with a federal organization as the umbrella, and independent Catholic centers, here the opportunity to build a church and pastoral center was missed than part of the activities performed within the Croatian Home, which further encouraged self-awareness and claims of the Croatian Home. All the shortcomings became apparent later when the Croatian Sports Center was established. The reasons for the divisions that followed are different, depending on which side they come from, but it seems that this institution is the result of a desire to make Croatian cultural events more accessible and attractive to younger generations, those born in Australia, and many the classic events around which the elderly gather are not too interesting. Therefore, various sports associations have been organized at the Center, which manage to attract young Croats from South Australia. Apart from (European, normal) football, there are other disciplines, from bowling to golf. I mention this latter club especially because they operate separately from the Croatian Sports Center and they are very energetic, so I learned the basics of golf with them, and if I stayed here a little longer, I would probably play too.
Unfortunately, since there is a general rule in Croatian emigrant communities that the preservation of tradition can only be achieved through unquestioning adherence to the cycle of well-established customs and that there is some spontaneous aversion to any changes, even here the attempt to modernize did not pass without setbacks and visible repercussions. If we add to this our constant tendency to withdraw the question of who was on which side in certain periods of time, we get extremely fertile ground for divisions and intolerance. Many Croatian communities abroad face this problem. The problem these communities face is how to mix the old and the new without tearing the bag. The Gospel advises that old wine should not be stored in new wineskins because the wineskins will be torn and the wine spilled. But if the new does not mix with the old, both will disappear. My personal impression is that most Croatian religious and cultural workers abroad are satisfied with the fact that small quantities of new wine will be added to old wineskins so that, mixed with old wines, neither wine nor wineskins are endangered. Specifically, many are content to have at least some of the large number of young Croats born in the diaspora present in the church, Croatian schools and folklore groups so as to ensure the transmission of tradition in the future. When a bishop from the Homeland or another high-ranking guest appears, then reserve units are convened to perform a year-old program, delighting the guest, and so it goes from year to year, from celebration to celebration.
Having in mind the problems and specifics of the community in Adelaide individually and Croatian foreign flocks in general, it seems to me that the work of the pastoral team in this community is on the right path to healing wounds, which arose primarily for political reasons, and creating a community of believers a lonely island to preserve some bygone time in the middle of the ocean whose waves are constantly splashing with new content. Pastor Pranjić and sisters Slavica and Marija are trying to make a healthy connection between Croatian traditional piety and what the pastoral possibilities of the local archdiocese offer. The result is a relatively lively community that is not content to be a service station in different situations (baptism, wedding, funeral), but strives to build a living community of believers by offering them different opportunities to live their religious life. The Bible and prayer group are just one example. Children and young people also show the fruits of that work. Although, for example, Christmas storytelling is more or less a custom in every parish, I was personally impressed by the freshness and originality shown by the young believers of this community. One of the special features is the annual concert “Our Lady of the Great Croatian Covenant” where amateur singers compete and the initiator is the parish priest Pranjić, who could compete with his singing skills even with professionals. This parish has much in common with all other Croatian parishes in the diaspora, but I would like to mention just one more characteristic that speaks in favor of its specificity. Unlike static pastoral care in which all pastoral events revolve around the parish house, which we are mostly used to, here I met “pastoral care on the move” where pastoral staff strive to be close and together with their faithful in all life situations, almost according to to that of Paul, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
In addition to these pleasant surprises in the work of local pastoral workers, the stay in this community was filled with interesting experiences in the cultural field. Maybe someone in the Homeland will ridicule the use of this term in the context of folk entertainment, but I take the term “culture” in a broader sense as events that help preserve the culture of a nation. It is understandable that these events have a different nature in emigration than in the Homeland. And the following events testify to the preservation and transmission of the culture of one nation. At one of the parties, I met a young man who is an Indian by ethnicity, grew up in Australia, but speaks Croatian and sings Croatian songs that many Croats may not know. A Croatian couple adopted him when he was eight months old and he is now considered a Croat. Which is good proof that we Croats are sometimes able to assimilate others and not just be assimilated. The surprise was also a slightly older young man who was born in Australia but plays the accordion so well that it is hard to find even among those who have spent their lives in the Homeland. Culture, even if reduced, is still passed on.
The life of the Croatian community in Adelaide, although not an exception to the painful experience of being wounded by the past, gives hope that even small communities can be sustained in unfavorable circumstances for national and religious life in exile. Perhaps this hope is even stronger in small communities because one who has little cannot afford “acceptable losses.”
At 10:30 AM in the Church of St. Patrick,
(91 Grote Street, Adelaide)