Role of Church
As with many post-World War II migrants in their early re-settlement, Slovenians often had a difficult time coping with their changed environment. As ‘New Australians’ they often felt lonely and isolated having left family, friends and familiar surroundings, many in traumatic circumstances. Not only was there a vastly different climate and culture to contend with, but for most there were also the difficulties of a new language. There was an urgent need for emotional support and the opportunity to share their experiences.
It was in 1951 that the first Slovenian Franciscan priests arrived in Australia to give support to compatriots. Most Slovenian migrants in the early period were refugees escaping from the communist regime and thus held strong religious convictions. The priests assisted many to search for employment and housing whilst attending to their spiritual and religious needs. Marriage preparations and religious rituals were now carried out in the Slovenian language.
The first stop for many single Slovenian men in Victoria was Padua Hall Hostel in Kew, later called Baraga House, established by Father Basil A.Valentin OFM MBE. Here, immigrant men were able to enjoy traditional home cooked dishes, socialise, play sports, access Slovenian books, magazines and newspapers. Most importantly they were able to share their experiences, reminisce about their homeland and dream of a new life in Australia.
Father Basil dreamed of a Slovenian church. After much persistence and hard work on his part and with the help from the Slovenian community, the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church was officially opened in 1968.
The Church played an Important Role for Slovenians in Australia
Slovenian Religious and cultural Centres in Australia - Short History and book by Draga Gelt and Veronika Ferfolja: Pax et Bonum - Mir in dobro (Chronicle of Slovenian Priests and Franciscan Sisters in Australia) on National University Digital Library of Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Herald Sun - Slovenians are proportionally the most likely nationality to own a home in Victoria, Australia