Descendants of Polish settlers around the country are being invited to a series of special events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first chaplain to the Polish community in Australia.
On 7 April 1870, a Polish Jesuit, Fr Leon Rogalski SJ arrived in South Australia as chaplain to the growing Polish community in the region. He was the country’s first chaplain to the Polish expatriate community and one of the first, and quite possibly the first, dedicated migrant chaplain in Australia.
‘As far as my work is concerned, I have so much of it that I don’t know whether to say “amplius Domine!” [more, Lord!] or “satis Domine!’ [enough, Lord!]”’, Fr Rogalski wrote of his work among the community in 1883.
‘Constant journeys, sometimes to very distant places, daily catechising from 2pm to 5pm, various teachings and sermons, sometimes also presentations in reading rooms, in different places, in front of different people, in German, in English and most often in Polish. To this you can add confessions, baptisms, weddings, retreats, tending to the sick.
‘I detail all of this not to complain of how difficult it is… I thank God that he is willing to use me, unworthy; but to encourage you to support me and my companions with your prayers.’
More than 150 years later, the descendants of those first settlers at Polish Hill River have spread across the country - but families still trace their lineage back to these early Polish pioneers.
The Polish Community Council along with the Polish Hill River Museum Committee invites descendants of these early Polish settlers back to the Clare Valley to join them, the Polish community, the Clare Valley Community, Polish Migrant Chaplains, Jesuits and dignitaries to remember these early pioneers and celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of their pastor.
Saturday 21 March
10:30am – Stations of the Cross from Polish Hill River Museum and St Stanislaus Kostka Chapel
11:30am – Presentation and speeches followed by Mass, celebrated by Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ
1pm – Lunch and cultural program
5pm – Visit to historical cemetery at Sevenhill, South Australia
5.30pm – BBQ Dinner on the lawn at Sevenhill Cellars (This is a ticketed event. Tickets available at the following link until 19 March or until sold out: https://www.trybooking.com/BHXAR)
Sunday 22 March
9am – Mass at St Aloysius Sevenhill
10am – Blessing at the Crypt, where Fr Rogalski is interred
Sunday 8 March
12noon - Anniversary Mass, celebrated by Jesuit Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ, at St Ignatius’ Church in Richmond, Victoria.
1pm - Reception hosted by the Polish communities at Richmond, Essendon and Oakleigh in the St Ignatius’ Church Hall.
Books by Fr Pawel Bies SJ, depicting the life and work of Fr Rogalski SJ, and a commemorative Fr Leon Rogalski Sevenhill Cellars Shiraz will be available for purchase at the events on 8 and 21 March.
Limited on-site camping is available at Polish Hill River for $17 per powered site per night.
Unpowered sites are available but bookings are required.
To book a campsite please contact George Mrotek on 0437 320 136.
Hotel accommodation is available at the Clare Central Motel, 325 Main North Road, Clare, SA 5453, Tel: 08 8842 2277 [email protected].
Click here for a flyer for the event (in English and Polish).
Pictured: (Top) Polish Hill River Church Museum, (Middle) Fr Leon Rogalski SJ.