From Humble Beginnings

On Friday 30th March 1923, a group of Salesians arrived with high hopes in Fremantle, WA later joined by Bishop Coppo. The genuine intention was to work with the indigenous in the Kimberley in the education of the young people.

The first Salesian missionaires sent to Australia REAR: Fr John Setaro, Bro Celestine Acerni, Fr Filemon Lopez, Bro Emmanuel Gomez, Bro Caesar Asselli. FRONT: Fr John Siara, Fr Paul Albera (Superior General of the Salesians), Bishop Ernest Coppo, Fr Erminio Rossetti.

Due to unforeseeable circumstances and difficulties, they encountered, some Salesians returned to Europe somewhat disappointment, and others moved onto Melbourne to minister to Italian immigrants. They also availed themselves in the education of the poor and abandoned young people in Victoria. These few determined Salesians moved forward in hope, trusting entirely in God's will, for their new mission in Melbourne.

With much gratitude to these dedicated first Salesians, the Australia-Pacific Province of Mary Help of Christians celebrates its centenary with pride. From a humble and trusting beginning in the West in 1923 to a daring celebration in 2023 is what God has brought to the young of the Australia-Pacific Province.

Centnary Celebrations Begin!

The Salesians of Don Bosco celebrate 100 years of their presence in Australia in 2023 and centenary celebrations begun at the Mother House in Sunbury, Melbourne on 24th January, the feast day of patron St Francis de Sales.

Friends, Family, Benefactors, FMAs and Salesians kick off the centenary celebrations!

The Provincial led the Eucharist at the college chapel that was attended by many members of the Salesian Family and a number of benefactors. Following the Eucharist, a special monument of benefactors was blessed and opened by the Provincial, with the support of Fr Frank Bertagnolli, near the Salesian community in Sunbury. Benefactors were acknowledged and thanked for their support in various Salesian missions.

Provinical Fr Will Matthews blesses the monument as Fr Frank Bertagnolli (right) and Mr Joe Richardson (left) watch on

A much bigger celebration was held at St Francis Catholic Church in the city center of Melbourne on Saturday 28th January with a solemn Eucharist led by the Salesian Archbishop of Perth, Most Reverend Timothy Costelloe SDB, during which five new Salesian priests were ordained before the members of the Provincial Council, a large number of Salesian sisters, priests and Brothers together with many families and friends that filled the church to its capacity.

The five new priests come from Australia, Samoa and Vietnam namely Fr Jeff Miller, Fr Kevin Fiame, Fr Eteuati Milo, Fr Duc Tran and Fr Joseph Huong. Fr Jeff and Fr Joseph have been assigned to the Salesian Community in St Marys, Sydney. Fr Kevin will be an Assistant priest at St John Bosco community in Engadine, Sydney. Fr Duc Tran will assist at St Joseph’s College in Ferntree Gully, Melbourne while being part of the community at Lysterfield, and Fr Ete Milo will travel to Auckland, New Zealand as an Assistant to the parish in Massey.

FRONT: Fr Eteuati (far left), Fr Joesph (second from left), Fr Jeff (far right), Fr Duc (second from right) Fr Kevin (third from right)

During his homily, Archbishop Costelloe said “We are gathered here in St Francis Church, as the very beginning of the centenary of the arrival of the Salesians in Australia, to celebrate an event which will create ripples across the Salesian Province and region. We pray in gratitude that each of these young men has found the courage to listen deeply to the voice of the Lord working in their lives and to respond generously to that voice.”

Considering the widespread cultures from which the ordinands come from the Archbishop went on to say ""I am sure that each of them has travelled his own unique journey of life, and of faith. Because of this they are for us today an invitation to reflect on the mysterious ways of God. In reading their stories I was struck by the different backgrounds and experiences which has led these men here this afternoon.”

At the conclusion of the Eucharist, the Provincial Fr Will Matthews thanked the congregation for their prayer and support to the Salesian Family and invited young men and women to journey with the Salesians as consecrated people for the salvation of souls through education.