The history of the Salvatorians in Australia began in 1961. A few years earlier the Archbishop of Perth, Redmond Prendiville, sent a letter of invitation to the head of our Society in Rome, Fr Bonaventura Schweizer. Replying to the invitation Fr Schweizer sent the first Savatorian, Fr Paul Keyte to Australia in 1961. Fr Paul was asked to take pastoral care of the new parish of Bellevue. The beginnings were difficult. The parish community life centered around the local catholic school, as there was no church, and no parish house or office facilities. In the following years a few more Salvatorians from the British Province joined Fr Paul.
In 1966 the new St Anthony’s Church, together with the accommodation for priests and the parish centre were opened in Bellevue. The parish of St Anthony was the only Salvatorian centre in Australia until the year 1982, when Fr Aloysius McDonagh became the Parish Priest of Esperance, in the diocese of Bunbury. In the late 70’s, prompted by the shortage in numbers, the British Province of the Salvatorians seriously considered passing on their ministry in Australia to the vibrant Polish Province.
During the transition period (1979-1987) four Polish Salvatorians worked together with the British Province Salvatorians (who were mostly Irish). Over all there had been six Salvatorian priests and one brother from the British Province who worked in Australia in 1961-1987.
In 1987 the Polish Province of Salvatorians officially took over from the British Province. This decision created a need for new people who would continue the ministry undertaken by the Salvatorians from the British Province. As a result three volunteers from the Polish Province arrived in Perth in 1988. Since then, almost every year, we have been getting “new blood” from Poland. At present there are over twenty Polish Salvatorians sharing their lives and ministry in Australia.
Thanks to the wonderful personal support of the Polish Province we have been able to expend and undertake pastoral care in a number of parishes in Perth and country areas of Western Australia. Since 1999 Polish Salvatorians have been working also in the Broken Bay Diocese, NSW. Following the teaching of our Founder, Fr Francis Jordan, we try to take a broad approach to our priestly ministry. Therefore, we do not restrict ourselves to the parish pastoral ministry only. A few of our priests have been working as school chaplains over the last several years.