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Building Community
Fifty years of the Pastorelle Sisters in Australia

Annamaria Davine

THE BOOK:  Fr James Alberione (now 'Blessed') would never have imagined, when he founded the Pastorelle Sisters in 1938, that in less than twenty years they would have made their first foundation in Carlton, Melbourne.  In 1955, Sisters Tarcisia, Alberta and Rosaria moved into a house at 197 Drummond Street, Carlton, that was owned by the Sacred Heart Parish.  I first visited them in early 1956 together with Carmine Tricarico, another seminarian.  So began a friendship with the Pastorelle Sisters which has been, and continues to be, one of the great blessings of my life.

This Foreword is about the Pastorelle Sisters, not me, but I am sure the positive influence they have had on me reflects their influence in the lives of many of the readers of these pages.

After ordination in 1957, I spent several months in Geelong West and then three years in Europe, mainly in Rome.  I was appointed to St. Mary's Parish, West Melbourne, in August 1962.  Many of the parishioners were recently arrived migrants from Southern Italy and Malta.  During my time at St. Mary's and then, later, at St. Augustine's, Yarraville, I came to depend very much on the Pastorelle Sisters for advice and practical assistance, for encouragement and for wonderful examples of how to work pastorally with Italian migrants.

In late 1963, the Sisters moved to Smith Street, Thornbury, quite close to my family home and very much il mio paese.  Their coming to live and work in my home suburb, and getting to know my family and neighbours, enabled my friendship with the Pastorelle Sisters to develop further.  In June 1965, Sister Luigia Cuffolo came to Melbourne.  By the time I was appointed by Archbishop James Knox to be Vicar for Religious in 1969, Sister Luigia was confident enough with her English to take an active part in meetings of Religious Superiors.  Although years younger than many of her counterparts, she did much to persuade many of them that leadership in those immediate post-conciliar years was not about being fearful of change.

When Sister Rita brought me a draft of Anna Davine's "Building Community: Fifty Years of the Pastorelle Sisters in Australia", I set myself to read then pages a day.  I began at 4.30pm one afternoon and, despite my original plan, had read the entire manuscript by late that night.

I recommend this book to you unreservedly.  It is absorbing, wonderfully written, and a completely professional account of recent history.  It is not simply an 'in house' account of the Life and Times of the Pastorelle Sisters.  I became absorbed at my first reading because, indirectly, it said so much to me about the life in parish ministry in the 1960s, about Religious Life over these fifty years, about the Church in the northern suburbs, and about the Church and society in the past fifty years.

This book will grow in significance for future generations because of the marvellous snapshot it provides of life in an increasingly multicultural Australia in the second half of the twentieth century.

Most Reverend Joseph P. O'Connell,
Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne (Retired)

THE AUTHOR:  Annamaria Davine is an honorary research fellow in the School of Historical Studies at Melbourne University.  She was born in Conco (Vicenza) in 1949); began her tertiary education at Melbourne University in 1991, as a mature age student, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in 1997.  Anna also completed a Master of Arts (Hons) thesis in 2000, now published ('Vegnimo Da Conco Ma Simo Veneti' - IAI 2006).  She recently completed a PhD, also at Melbourne University.  Anna is married to Derry and they have two children and three grandchildren.

THE PUBLISHER:  The Italian Australian Institute (I.A.I.) is a non-profit organisation, supported by the co-operation between the Grollo-Ruzzene Foundation and La Trobe University.  Its charter states that its main aim is to research and study every aspect of the Italian presence in Australia.

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