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 towards the religious, moral and material negligence of children and youth and to the misery of disadvantage people. Following the Divine Voice, he went to Italy and became a follower of Saint John Bosco. After seven years, in 1892 he returned to Poland and began work in Miejsce Piastowe (South- east 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 fomally 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 including Argentina, Paraguay, Italy, Germany, Belarus, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Austria and Canada.
THE MICHAELITES OF THE PACIFIC DELAGATURE
The history of The Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel (known as the Michaelites), in the Pacific Delagature had 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, with Fr Zdzislaw Kruczek as the first Local Superior.
At the same time, while undertaking doctoral studies in Sydney, Fr Janusz Bieniek, began negotiations with the Archdiocese of Sydney to explore the possibility of establishing a Michaelites presence in Australia. With the co-operation of Fr Kevin O’Grady, (the then Parish Priest), a monastery and parish was given to the Congregation by the Archdiocese at North Ryde. A contract between Cardinal Edward Clancy and our Superior General, Fr Kazimierz Tomaszewski was signed, and in November 2000, our Religious Community was officially inaugurated with the appointment of Fr Janusz Bieniek as the Local Superior and Parish Priest. Soon after, the parishes of Wyoming and Terrigal were given to our pastoral care.
In 2007, the Superior General, Fr Kazimierz Radzik decreed that these two Religious Communities merge and be elevated to the status of a Delagature under the leadership of Fr Janusz Bieniek.
Within the Pacific Delagature, the Michaelites are continuing with missionary work and fulfilling our charism by evangelizing in the parishes entrusted to our pastoral care, encouraging Catholic education in parish schools, servicing the elderly and sick in nursing homes and hospital chaplaincy, supporting and engaging in youth ministries within the parishes and universities. Some of our priests have been involved in specialised studies and have achieved high academic degrees and are lecturing in seminaries and Catholic universities, Director of Evangelisation at Australia’s Catholic University and co-ordinating Hospital chaplaincy at one of Sydney’s largest teaching hospitals. 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 Delegature bear witness to the great effort, prayer and dedication that’s has gone into the promotion and fostering of local vocations.
From the beginning of our presence in Australia, the Michaelites have received overwhelming support and financial assistance from lay people. In 1997, under the leadership of Nadia Caravello a group of lay parishioners at North Ryde set up the St Michael Mission Society (SMMS). Members contribute and fundraise to assist our Michaelite missionaries in PNG, and to support education and formation programs. Over the past few years, the Society has undertaken a highly worthwhile project through the dedicated commitment of two members, Jason and Jenny Hodges, who have organised the transportation of shipping containers to PNG to aid the parishes and local hospital with educational equipment, medical supplies, and building materials.
Since 2010, we have focused on promoting more widely our Michaelite spirituality and charism encouraging devotions to St Michael and the Angels. We have begun works 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 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 in 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 Delagature.
Presently, in Australia there are 7 priests working in four parishes: Holy Spirit North Ryde, St Anthony of Padua Clovelly, Star of the Sea Terrigal and Our Lady of Victories Horsley Park. In Papua New Guinea there are 5 priests working in four parishes: St Paul Wanepap, St Joseph Kasap, and recently acquired Our Lady of the Rosary Kuli in the Mt Hagen Diocese. Two Michaelites work in specialised ministries in Australia, with one working as Hospital Chaplain and another working as Director of Mission at a Catholic University. There is also a brother, newly ordained deacon and seminarians.
Building works on the Monastery and The House of Formation have been completed and are located in Mt Hagen. A Shrine (Church) devoted to Divine Mercy is currently under construction in Kuli Parish.
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.