Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Father Spurgis

Budriene and Father Spurgis
The second Catholic priest to minister to the Adelaide Lithuanians was Father Albinas Spurgis.  He was born September 6th in 1907 in Panevežys.  He attended the Ukmergė school and later the Seminary in Kaunas.  He was ordained a priest on June 23rd 1932.  From 1932 he spent two years at St Peters and Paul’s church in Panevežys and three years in Panevežys cathedral. From July 1938 he was at the Gelažių parish and Simonys. From December 12th 1943 he held the office of the Dean of Kupiškas.

He left Lithuania in 1944 and made his way to Germany, Oberfalce in Bavaria in the town of Weiden, where he assisted the church.  He established a Lithuania camp where he was the chaplain and Weiden Lithuanian school director.

He emigrated to the USA in 1949 and lived in Cleveland in the St Joseph’s church.  He was here for four years.  In 1953 he left for Rome and entered the Marian congregation, where he remained for  two years.  He returned to Chicago and entered pastoral work and travelled to Lithuanian congregations.  In 1958 he was appointed to the Marian newspaper “Friends’.

In 1969 he arrived in Adelaide and became the second Catholic priest for St Casmir’s.  He arrived on 27 November to a community meal with 60 parish members present.   During the evening Father Spurgis told those present that he had heard alot about the Adelaide community in Chicago, mainly from J. Bačunas and Bishop V. Brizgys


Father Spurgis died on 7th October 1985 10 07 in Adelaide.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The first year of the Adelaide Lithuanian Women's Catholic Society

1961, the Lithuanian Catholic Women's society had been active for one year.  This is their first annual report.
Father Kungys, centre with members of the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic society

St Joseph's and later St casimir church decorations and cleaning.  Flowers for the church with a roster ending at Christmas for the year.

Catering for the St Casimir volunteer workers.  From 3 March 1960 to 16 April 1961 they organised 35 lunches, feeding over 500 volunteers.

Organised Father Kungys 15 year jubilee as a priest.

Buffets prepared for various balls throughout the year, Sunday Voice newsletter ball, SA Lithuanian Catholics Ball, St Casimir’s opening of the church where over 200 people attended.

Together with parents organised supper for children receiving their first communion.
Supper for the school children end of year program.  Tea, coffee and snacks for the break during Lithuanian school.

Community Christmas Eve meal where 83 people attended.

Organised church clothing, including, 6 chasubles, alter and tabernacle, coverings for the altar, cross and statue.

The women collected 8 packages of donated clothes and footwear to be sent for the clergy at the St Casimir seminary, Rome.

The women’s committee members attended the Australian Lithuanian Catholic gathering.
The years earnings was £748.14.4 of which over half was used to purchase food and befet furniture.  Treasuer was A. Mainelienė.

A new committee was elected, A. Mainelienė, E. Kervelienė, S. Pusdešrienė, M. Gerulatienė, A. Uldukienė, G. Opulskienė, K. Dičiūnienė.


Teviskes Aidai 1961 gegužes 9d. Nr 18

Friday, 13 June 2014

Annual remembrance of Baltic holocaust


The Baltic people in Australia have never forgotten the mass deportations of their countrymen in 1941.  Each year around the anniversary of the deportations the Estonian, Lithuanian and Latvian communities come together to remember.  

It continues today, the 62nd annual commemoration service and concert to be held at St Peter;s Latvian Hall on Sunday 15th June 2014 at 3:00pm.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

We are in Australia now. A letter from Australia, 1947

National Archives of AustraliaHMAS Kanimbla arrives at Melbourne with the first group of displaced persons (Dec 1947) from where they will join the train bound for Bonegilla Migrant Camp. They had travelled from Europe to Fremantle on the GENERAL HEINTZELMAN and transhipped to the KANIMBLA.

This translation is from a two part article, of which this in number 2. It was cut out from the newspaper with no other parts.  Written by Juozas Šilainis, who arrived on the General Heintzelman.  The first ship bringing post WWII migrants to Australia in December 1947.  This letter was published in ‘Žodis’ a DP camp newspaper in Detmold, Germany, Jan 8 1948.

An ordinary job can earn you £5-6. Food is cheap, housing in expensive.  We work five days per week, eight hours per day.

We will in Fremantle until December 2nd, then will sail east to Melbourne.  From there by train 200 kilometres to Bonegilla where we will be for about a month.  Here we will rest, learn English, become familiar with the region and work customs until we are allocated work. 

On the journey to Australia we are looked after by a Lithuanian working for the IRO, Vladas Žibas.  He gives us 200 cigarettes a week, soap and other toiletries.

In Diepholz we elected a committee for the journey.  Under the committees direction we remembered All Saints day and on November 23rd in the Indian Ocean.  We held a religious hour where the English class choir performed, followed by a Baltic music and song concert.  A delicious meal was had at the end.  The Lithuanian scouts were active on board the ship.  When we reached the equator they organised an impressive camp fire evening.  The sailors watching laughed along even though the words could not be understood. The ships newsletter was translated to Lithuanian and printed on the rotatarium ‘Pabaltijo Vikinga’ (Baltic Viking).

We feared sea sickness, and some suffered as soon as they set foot on the ship.  In the middle of the ocean one Lithuanian had an appendix operation but all left the ship healthy.

The Australian cities, people, and living conditions for the newly arrived Europeans were so interesting and surprising that in the short time we have been here we have not been able to evaluate everything.   Leaving Germany we thought we would find a primitive society, but instead modern colourful cities, cheap living, social equality, freedom, cheap transportation, fabulous films and theatre.  While in Perth, not far from Fremantle, are beaches, gardens, no poverty to be seen.

In the town and suburbs you don’t see many people on foot or on bikes, they have cars.  If you walk out into the street and hail a car, someone will stop and ask where you would like to go.  Australians know that a pedestrian usually means you are a new immigrant who would have no money.  They ask many questions which with limited English is hard to answer.  Many however speak, German, Russian or French.

Australians are practical and thrifty, and encourage the new migrants to be the same.  They say don’t send letters by air as it is too expensive, but suggest by sea as it is cheaper but will take longer.  

Not many Australians smoke cigarettes, but deftly roll tobacco in paper to smoke.  They are known as ‘bankrutkes’ as tobacco is cheap and cigarettes expensive.

To earn money quickly you can work as crop or sugar cutting or sheep shearing.
There are a few Lithuanians families already living around Perth and Fremantle, the children growing up in Australia speak Lithuanian.  They live well, have their own cars, houses and say that if you are not afraid of work, don’t drink away your income then very quickly you can buy whatever you want.  They also started with nothing.

On 1 December 1947, we gave the local Lithuanians gave a singing concert to an excited audience.  We sang a dozen songs they have not heard and brought tears to their eyes. Australians were also at the concert and asked for a translation of the songs.

We temporarily belonged to the immigration minister who concerned with our welfare, organised the Salvation Army Red Shield War Services to donate items of clothing, food, shoes and other small items.  They also allowed us to send letters to Europe.

Juozas Silainis

Fremantle 1947.XII.1