• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 25 February 2021 11:25

Celebrating 50 years of SVD pastoral care to Slovak community

Slovak 50th anniversary Mass 550The Sydney Catholic Slovak community and the Divine Word Missionaries recently celebrated 50 years of pastoral relationship with a special thanksgiving Mass.

“The celebration strengthened and confirmed the relationship that’s been there for all those years,” says Fr Henry Adler SVD, the chaplain to the Slovak community in the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Fr Henry was joined at the Eucharistic celebration by Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, Provincial Leadership Team members Fr Nick de Groot SVD and Fr Viet Nguyen SVD, and Fr Stephan Gerdes SVD who has recently begun assisting with the Slovak chaplaincy.

Fr Rass gave the homily in which he spoke of the strong ties between the SVD and the Slovak community in Sydney.

“I congratulated them for working in partnership with us, the Divine Word Missionaries,” Fr Rass says. “And also for their willingness to tolerate our humanity, let’s say, right back to 1970s.”

Preaching on the Gospel of the day, Fr Rass spoke of the missionary responsibility to proclaim the gospel and he promised the SVD would continue to assist the Slovak community whenever it can.

Fr Henry has been the spiritual leader of the Slovak community of Sts Cyril and Methodius in Lidcombe for nine years, but the relationship between the Slovaks in Australia and the Divine Word Missionaries can be traced back to the 1970s, with the appointment of Fr Jan Krasnansky SVD to work with the growing numbers of Slovak immigrants in Sydney.

Slovak 50th anniversary cake 550The first Slovak settlers in Australia arrived in 1928 and were scattered throughout Australia. In Sydney, in the late 1940s and early 50s, they found a spiritual home for some time at St Francis Church in Surry Hills with then Mons James Freeman, who later became Archbishop of Sydney. In the mid-50s, Fr Stefan Sencik SJ arrived to care for the Slovak community of Australia, followed by a Salesian priest, Fr Tibor Strnisko, before the association with the SVD’s began with Fr Jan.

When Fr Jan’s tenure ended in 1975, Fr Emil Cernaj SVD was appointed to the Slovak community.

At that time, the Slovak Catholics had been meeting and worshipping in their language at various Catholic churches around Sydney, but never had a spiritual home of their own.

It took six years of struggle – collecting financial donations and loans from members of the Slovak community in Australia and from the American Slovaks, until the end of 1981, when Fr Emil, after holding a conference and reaching agreement from the community, bought the property at 30 Vaughan Street, Lidcombe.

It consisted of an old church and fibro hall, as well as an old fibro home.

After fundraising further to finance the costly repairs needed on the old property, the church was consecrated and named the Slovak Catholic Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius. Today, the community of Sts Cyril and Methodius is thriving, not only as a worshipping faith community, but also as a focal point for family and culture-based activities.

When they found themselves without a priest nine years ago, the Slovak community again turned to the Divine Word Missionaries for help and Fr Henry, who speaks Polish, and over the years has learned enough Slovak to be able to celebrate Mass and other liturgical celebrations in the Slovak language, stepped in.

Henry and Rass with Aboriginal Artist 550“I was asked to assist the Slovaks for a short time but two weeks became nine years,” Fr Henry says.

“Not being a native Slovak, over the years, there were some things I wasn’t able to address and the people had to do it themselves, so they have really grown into a strong and self-reliant community.

“But it has been a very warm and happy relationship and we wanted to celebrate and acknowledge it on both sides.”

Fr Henry says that over the years the Slovak community have become strong partners in mission with the Divine Word Missionaries.

“They have become collaborators in mission with us and have supported various of our Divine Word Missionary projects and we appreciate that and we appreciate the long relationship we’ve had.”

The 50th anniversary was to have been celebrated in December, but due to COVID regulations in Sydney at that time, it wasn’t possible.

Instead, the celebration took place on the first Sunday of February and was followed by a gathering afterwards with speeches and a special cake to mark the occasion. Fr Henry was also presented with a birthday gift of an Aboriginal artwork print by award-winning Aboriginal artist and member of the community, Greg Weatherby.


TOP RIGHT: Fr Henry Adler SVD celebrating the Mass, with Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD who gave the homily.

MIDDLE LEFT: A cake to celebrate 50 years of the SVD's pastoral care for the Sydney Archdiocese Slovak community.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Provincial Fr Asaeli Rass SVD and Slovak community chaplain Fr Henry Adler SVD with artist Greg Weatherby who presented Fr Henry with the pictured work as a birthday gift.

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