• 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
    圣福若瑟神父

  • 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
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • 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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Friday, 21 March 2014 11:43

SVD chaplaincy with Slovak community fosters warm friendship

Slovaks---Henry---350Chaplaincy to migrant groups is a particular focus of the Divine Word Missionaries AUS Province, and for the Slovak community in Sydney, that commitment has resulted in a warm and loving pastoral relationship over many years.

SVD AUS Provincial, Fr Henry Adler has been the spiritual leader of the Slovak community of Sts Cyril and Methodius in Lidcombe for two 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.

Parishioners of Sts Cyril and Methodius Church, Ivan and Maria Hupka say that with Fr Jan’s arrival, a “useful and sincere relationship between Slovak Catholics and Divine Word Missionaries began”.

“Over the years, the Slovaks have been welcomed and supported in their headquarters in Epping by making their premises available not only for Sunday Mass but also for cultural events of the Slovak community,” Ivan says.

The 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.

“Fr Emil realised, the same as his predecessor had, that 25 of years of attending churches owned by other groups in order to keep a Sunday Mass in Slovak language should end,” Ivan says.

“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.

Carols---Slovaks---350When they found themselves without a priest two years ago, the Slovak community again turned to the Divine Word Missionaries for help.

“Fr Henry Adler was the one to help us,” Maria says. “Now, our Slovak church is back to life again, to its normal days and Sundays.

“He is the priest who greets everyone with open arms. He is flexible and unburdened by conservative ways of interpreting the Lord’s teachings. In his hand during the homily, we often see visual electronic devices or he uses a projection of prayers and images connected with the theme he is preaching about.

“The result is a good response, from the young believers and families with children to the older members of the congregation.

“Finally, and most importantly, Fr Henry is a member of our community. When the Mass is over, he doesn’t leave. He stays with us – his congregation – in our centre, and talks to people. People who had stopped coming to Mass are slowly coming back.”

Fr Henry says he too enjoys his relationship with the Slovak Catholic Community.

“What started as a one-off Holy Week supply, developed into an ongoing pastoral relationship and friendship,” he says.

“My duties as the SVD Provincial only allow me to be available to the community on Sundays. But I like to be there at least 30 minutes before Mass, to be available for the Sacrament of reconciliation or just to be there and join the quiet and prayerful atmosphere of our Church.

Slovak-community---St-Nicholas---350“After Mass, the congregation gathers in the community hall to share a meal of delicious Slovak delicacies and chat in the native Slovak language about the joys and sorrows of life at home, wherever home is.

“And when I’m not out of town on Fridays, I sneak out of the SVD community around 6pm and come to the Slovak centre in Lidcombe to prepare Sunday’s liturgy or just to meet the people there. Sometimes there is a need to address some pastoral issues. At other times, I just enjoy being with the people who consider me as their spiritual leader.”

Fr Henry says his knowledge of the Polish language has made it easier to learn enough Slovak language to be able to celebrate the Eucharist “in the language and heart of the people”.

“I respect and admire the people for their patience with my limited knowledge of their language,” he says. “I love the people and respect their Slovak culture. I wish I had more time and better knowledge of the language in order to better serve the spiritual needs of the community.”

Photos from top: Fr Henry Adler SVD celebrating the Eucharist with the Slovak Catholic community of Sts Cyril and Methodius, Lidcombe; Slovak youth singing at the SVD Carols by Candlelight, Marsfield; and the Slovak Catholic community gathered together to celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas.