One hundred and fifty years ago, on 20 March 1870, a 40-year-old Polish priest set foot on Australian soil in Melbourne, marking the end of the period of his dynamic life devoted to pastoral care in continental Europe and the beginning of a new period in pioneering conditions of the still impenetrable Southern Land, a period filled with hope, unpredictable challenges, and unexpected difficulties. He came to the remotest – from a central European perspective – corner of the globe not because of a mid-life crisis, nor in search of exciting adventures among exotic landscapes and animals, nor even because of the curiosity of a researcher exploring new territories on the edges of the known world. He came to Australia perfectly aware that he would never leave, with a clearly defined purpose: to provide pastoral care to Australian migrants who spoke Polish and prayed in Polish. Fortunately, some of the letters he wrote to his religious superiors and relatives in Poland survived. This correspondence gives us a unique opportunity to glimpse the beginnings of pastoral care offered to Australian migrants through the eyes of its pioneer, initiator and executor.
From Introduction to the book
Fr. Leon Rogalski, S.J. He was born on 8 April 1830 in the district of Ternopil (Poland), became ordained in 1855, and joined the Jesuit Order in 1861. In 1869 he was sent on a mission to South Australia to provide pastoral care to the Poles who settled there. After his arrival, he offered his pastoral services not only to Polish but also German and Irish settlers living in the Clare Valley and the surrounding areas. He passed away on 3 June 1906 and was buried in the crypt at St. Aloysius' Church in Sevenhill.