Book review - Italian Catholics in Australia

Dr Stefano Girola, a Church history lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, has completed two books looking at various aspects of Italian Catholics in Australia.

The first, entitled Ignem Veni Mittere or I have come to bring fire, was launched this week to commemorate 50 years of the Italian Catholic Federation (ICF) in Australia, the ACU said in a statement.

The ICF was originally established in Melbourne to help Italian migrants settle successfully in Australia by assisting with work opportunities, social events, and encouraging participation with their local Church.

Dr Girola, originally from Milan, and now lecturing at the ACU's Brisbane campus, said multiculturalism and the relationships between Italian migrants and the Catholic Church in Australia was one of his key interests.

“Being both an Italian migrant and a Catholic, I am interested in how Italians interacted with their local Church, and how in many cases, they overcame cultural differences to contribute substantially to Australian Catholicism.” 

Dr Girola’s second book Nagoyo: The life of Don Angelo Confalonieri among Australia’s Aborigines, 1846-1848, looks at the life and experiences of the first Catholic missionary in the Northern Territory.

Dr Girola co-authored the book, and wrote the chapter on Catholic missions among Australia’s Indigenous people in the 19th century.

Born in north-eastern Italy in 1813, Confalonieri was a diocesan priest who spent a few challenging years living alone among Indigenous people in Australia.

“During this time he was able to acquire a good knowledge of two local languages, Iwaidja and Garig, and some of his work included compiling phrase books with English translations.  Unlike most missionaries Confalonieri tried to follow the local Indigenous groups in their movements, and share their life as much as possible.”


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