The Congregation of St Michael the Archangel (CSMA) known as the Michaelites was founded by Blessed Father Bronislaw Markiewicz.
From the very beginning of his priestly life, he was particularly sensitive to the religious, moral and material welfare of children and youth and felt quite keenly the misery of marginalised people. Following the Divine Voice, he went to Italy and became a follower of Saint John Bosco. After seven years, he returned to Poland in 1892 and began work in Miejsce Piastowe (Southeast Poland). On 23rd September 1897 he petitioned the Bishop of Przemysl and the Pope to allow him to found the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel. On 29th September 1921, the Archbishop of Krakow, Adam Sapieha, issued the Decree formally establishing the Congregation. On 15th June 1966, the Congregation was affirmed by the Holy See.
Headquartered in Warsaw, the Congregation now operates in a number of countries around the world. In Europe: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. In the Americas: Canada, USA, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Antilles, Argentina, Paraguay. In Oceania: Papua New Guinea, Australia. For administration purposes, the Congregation is divided into 5 Provinces and 2 Vice Provinces.
THE MICHAELITES OF THE PACIFIC VICE PROVINCE
The history of The Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Pacific Vice Province has its beginnings in 1970 in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the Diocese of Mt Hagen where our priests were initially sent to do missionary work.
Over time the Congregation has undertaken pastoral work in the parishes of Wanepap and Kasap in the Diocese of Wabag. In 1996, in a newly built monastery in Mt Hagen, our Religious House was established and Fr Zdzislaw Kruczek installed as first Local Superior.
Around the same time, Fr Janusz Bieniek, who was undertaking doctoral studies in Sydney, began negotiations with the Archdiocese of Sydney to explore the possibility of establishing the Michaelites in Australia. With the cooperation of Fr Kevin O’Grady, (the then Parish Priest), a monastery and parish at North Ryde was given by the Archdiocese to the Congregation after a contract was signed between Cardinal Edward Clancy and our Superior General, Fr Kazimierz Tomaszewski.
In September 2000, two Michaelite priests Fr Stanislaus Kluk and Fr Joseph Pekala and two seminarians arrived in Sydney and joined the community at North Ryde. In November, Fr Janusz Bieniek was appointed as Local Superior of the Congregation and Parish Priest. On the 18th February 2001, Bishop Cremin (Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney) performed the official installation of the Michaelites at North Ryde.
In January 2003, the novitiate was established at North Ryde with the coming of two candidates from PNG. Soon after, two parishes in the Broken Bay Diocese were placed under our pastoral care: Wyoming with Fr Mark Okama as parish priest and Terrigal with Fr Stan Kluk in charge.
In 2007, the Superior General, Fr Kazimierz Radzik decreed the merging of the Religious Communities in Papua New Guinea and in Australia and was granted the status of Pacific Delegature under the leadership of Fr Janusz Bieniek. On 19th June 2013, the Delegature was elevated to the rank of Vice Province, with the official name Pacific Vice Province of Mary Help of Christians of the Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel. Since 2016 Fr Stan Kluk has been the Superior of the Vice Province.
Within the Pacific Vice Province, the Michaelites continue their missionary work and fulfill our charism through evangelisation in the parishes entrusted to our pastoral care; promoting authentic Catholic education in parish schools; serving the elderly and sick in their homes, nursing homes and hospitals; supporting and engaging with the youth within the parishes and universities. Some of our priests have been involved in specialised studies and have achieved notable academic degrees and give lectures in seminaries and Catholic universities. Fr Anthony Casamento is currently the Vice President of the Australian Catholic University. Michaelites are also involved in evangelisation in the media with weekly catechetical programs presented on the Diocesan Mt Hagen radio and a Catholic online radio station in Sydney called CRADIO.
Over the last 10 years, considerable effort and resources have been dedicated to the formation program of our candidates for religious life. It is conducted in a purposely built Formation House in Mt Hagen and in the Monastery at North Ryde. The 5 priests ordained within this period for the Vice Province (1 Polish, 2 Australians and 2 from PNG) bear witness to the great effort, prayer and dedication that has gone into the promotion and fostering of local vocations.
Presently, in Australia there are 8 priests working in four parishes: St Michael’s Hurstville, Holy Spirit North Ryde, Star of the Sea Terrigal, and Our Lady of Victories Horsley Park. In Papua New Guinea there are 5 priests working in the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen: Our Lady of the Rosary Kuli, Divine Mercy Shrine Rukus, Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Formation program in the Michaelite Monastery.
From the beginning of our presence in Australia, the Michaelites have received overwhelming support and financial assistance from lay people. In 1997 a group of lay parishioners at North Ryde set up the St Michael Mission Society (SMMS). Members contribute and raise funds to assist our Michaelite missionaries in PNG, and to support education and formation programs. Over the past few years, the Society has undertaken the highly worthwhile project of organising the transport of shipping containers to PNG to provide their parishes and the local hospital with educational equipment, medical supplies, and building materials. The Society has also been successful in fundraising with the now famous chocolate lambs made by the Michaelite Fathers at North Ryde. During the season of Lent, these lambs are distributed among many parishes in the Sydney Archdiocese and throughout New South Wales.
Since 2010, we have focused on more widely promoting our Michaelite spirituality and charism by encouraging devotions to St Michael and the Holy Angels.
At St Michael’s Hurstville, the weekly devotion to St Michael and the holy Angels has been ongoing since 2014. The devotion booklet is published on this website. Every year, in this parish, we conduct the Novena to St Michael and the Holy Angels leading up to the joyous celebration of the Feast Day of our patron St Michael. We also have the pilgrim statue of St Michael that is taken around to visit families of the parish. St Michael prayer cards are also freely distributed to parishioners.
Work has began to help spread the Movement of the Knights of St Michael the Archangel, setting up an Office of a National Animator at Clovelly parish with team members that meet on a regular basis. A local Newsletter In Honour of the Angels has been produced and is distributed among the Michaelite parishes on a regular quarterly basis. Prayer cards to St Michael and Guardian Angels have been produced and also translated into Pidgin English and sent to Papua New Guinea. In addition, the Chaplet of St Michael has been broadly distributed together with prayer beads made by Knight members.
Under the Knighthood of St Michael the Archangel, local animators have been nominated in all Michaelite parishes, holding monthly hosts of adoration and reciting the Chaplet of St Michael. This also includes a host at Chatswood parish where the Michaelites worked during the year of 2009-2010. All lay members of each host are guided by the Statutes of the Knighthood Movement and are under the spiritual direction of a Michaelite priest. These Statutes have been translated from Polish to English and have been produced to be in accordance with matters present in the Pacific Vice Province.
From 2017, The Confraternity of the Scapular of St Michael commenced promotion from the Hurstville Parish and gathering membership from the Sydney area and now reaching out to other places.