Salvatorian Priests have ministered to our parish community since year 2001. They are religious, apostolic and international Society founded by Fr Francis Jordan in 1881.
John Baptist Jordan (Francis Jordan) was born on 16th June 1848 and was ordained to priesthood in 1878 at the age of thirty. Already in the Seminary he showed great interest in the Missions and in the apostolate of the press, and began to have ideas about starting a work that would unite Catholic forces in the spread and defence of the faith.
Due to the Kulturkampf—the opposition of the Prussian State to the Catholic Church—he was unable to exercise his ministry in his home Diocese and his Bishop sent him to Rome to study oriental languages. This extraordinary gift for languages meant that in 1880 he was given the opportunity by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to travel on their behalf to the Middle East.
On this tour of Egypt and Palestine Jordan took the opportunity to discuss his plans with many eminent Churchmen; their interest in his ideas gave him great encouragement. While climbing Mount Lebanon he had a profound spiritual experience. The words of John 17:3 ran through his mind “Eternal life is this, to know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” He came down from the mountain resolved to put his plans into practice.
On the 8th December 1881 in the Chapel of St Brigida in Rome, Father Jordan and two other priests took private vows as members of the Apostolic Teaching Society. It is this date which is kept as the foundation day of the Salvatorians.
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.
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.
Thanks to the wonderful personal support of the Polish Province they have been able to expend and undertake pastoral care in a number of parishes in Perth and country areas of Australia.