The work of welcoming, settling and assisting migrants within the multicultural realities of Australian society and local church is a sensitive and complex one. Within this work, the ministry of Migrant Chaplains and Community Pastoral Ministers, locally known as Community Chaplains, is vital. (We Are One Body, p14)
The Community Chaplains Group is not a formally constituted body but a group of people who voluntarily come together to meet and share their experiences, culture, hopes and concerns and be a support to one another. Their purpose is to assist migrants integrate into the archdiocese and at the same time assist them to retain and share their distinct faith expressions and cultural identity. They also assist those who, because of language barriers, are unable to fully participate in local parish activities.
For decades Migrant Chaplains have worked quietly and effectively in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Their ministry was particularly significant during and especially after World War II when there was a huge wave of migrants from war ravaged Europe. Although they did a wonderful job and were very dedicated, they ministered very much individually and often in isolation from parish life and the rest of the Archdiocese.
Through the then Catholic Immigration Office established in 1949, a few of these Chaplains started a regular and more coordinated contact with the Archdiocese. The Chaplains began to meet regularly as a group in the early ’70s during the time of Fr Frank Lourigan, then Director of CIO.
The Catholic Immigration Office (now Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care) had always welcomed the Chaplains to the Archdiocese providing them not only support and goodwill but also a place to meet. This mutual understanding continued with the succeeding Catholic Immigration Directors – from Fr Michael McCarthy in the ’80s to Mary Gavin (again in 2005) and CMPC’s Jose Zepeda in the ’90s right up to the present directorship of Clyde Cosentino.
The group also enjoyed much support from the bishops who were given the responsibility to oversee the migrants and refugee ministry in the archdiocese – Bishop James Cuskelly, Bishop John Gerry, Bishop Michael Putney and Bishop Joseph Oudeman. Through the years the group had welcomed and farewelled many Chaplains, Priests and Religious who have all effectively ministered to their respective ethnic communities.
As the Archdiocese adopted the guidelines set out in We Are One Body (released in 1999, updated in 2018), the Group was made into an ‘Ethnic Communities Deanery’ in January 2001 with then Chaplain to the Dutch Community, Father Joseph Oudeman OFM Cap, as Dean. This non-geographic (not parish/region-based) deanery operated effectively for two years and even took an active part in the Synod Consultation Process. The deanery was discontinued with the appointment of Fr Joseph as Auxiliary Bishop in February 2003 as he took on the responsibility of being the bishop responsible Migrant Chaplains and their Communities in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. After some discussion as to their identity and purpose, the group decided on the name ‘Ethnic Ministers Group’ which was deemed more inclusive and suited members who are not official Chaplains to communities – priests and religious sisters who provide the same pastoral care and/or spiritual support to their respective ethnic communities
In 2017, on the encouragement of Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the Ethnic Ministers were renamed ‘Community Chaplains’. This Group continues to hold bi-monthly meetings as an opportunity for a sharing of information and support.
MEETINGS, NAMES AND IDENTITY
Meeting of Migrant Chaplains
[Organised by the Catholic Immigration Office; meetings chaired by the CIO Director]
1970s – 1984 – Fr Frank Lourigan (CIO Director from mid 1970s to 1985)
1985 – 1990 (Fr Michael McCarthy (CIO Director, also Parish Priest of Surfers Paradise); Assistant to Director – Mary Gavin
1990 – 1994 Mary Gavin, CIO Director
Meeting of Migrant Chaplains and subsequent name changes
[Organised by the Centre for Multicultural Pastoral Care; meetings chaired by CMPC Director Jose Zepeda 1994 – 2003]
Migrant Chaplains and Priests Ministering to Ethnic Communities and later —
Migrant Chaplains, Priests and Pastoral Associates Ministering to Ethnic Communities (1997 to Feb 2001)
Ethnic Communities Deanery
(March 2001 to August 2003; meetings chaired by Dean Joseph Oudeman OFM Cap)
Ethnic Chaplains, Priests and Religious Ministering to Ethnic Communities
(October 2003 to February 2004; chaired by Bishop Joseph Oudeman OFM Cap)
Ethnic Ministers Group
(April 2004 to 2017; various chairpersons)
Community Chaplains – 2017 to present
Fr Joseph Oudeman OFM Cap – 2003
Fr Franco Filipetto – 2004
Fr Albert Chan – 2005
Fr Luigi Sabbadin CS – 2006
Fr Andrew Kolazkowski – 2007
Fr Mauro Conte CS – 2008
Fr Sylvester Karasiuk SChr – 2009 to 2011
Sr Rosa Vazzano FDCC – 2012 to 2014
Bishop Joseph Oudeman OFM Cap – 2014 to 2017 [Bishop Joseph Oudeman – A Collection of Photos 1998 to 2017]
Clyde Cosentino – 2017 to 2019
Rev Dcn Peter Pellicaan – 2019 to present