Farewell Father Julian

At the end of October this year, Father Julian Cavarzan boarded a plane for Venice (Italy) to join the Salesian community at Castello di Godego (near Venice) in part-time retirement. After 60 years in Australia, 52 of which were spent at Salesian College Chadstone, as a teacher, and later as full-time Chaplain of the Italian community of Oakleigh-Clayton, Fr Julian decided to return to his Province of origin, Venice. To welcome Fr Julian home there will be his large family – among others, his eight sisters and two brothers, and many nephews and nieces, some of whom he has hardly known.

Fr Julian’s years in the classroom, and in the playground as soccer player and coach, have become legend at Salesian College. In the days when the Italian language was being introduced in schools in Victoria, and soccer was considered a “foreign” game, Fr Julian’s enthusiasm and energy attracted many youngsters to his classes, and to play the “world” game. There were some memorable results in the intra-school soccer competitions in those early days…

With the influx of migrants from Italy in the 50s and 60s, the need for pastoral care became urgent, and Fr Julian answered the many requests for assistance by dedicating his full-time energies to this ministry – which went well beyond the Sunday Mass in the parishes of Oakleigh and Clayton. Over the years, with the support of a Committee of Italians (and helped partly by the Federal Government), Fr Julian raised sufficient funds to establish the Saint Dominic Savio Child Care Centre in Clayton, staffed by the Salesian Sisters. Then he turned his interests and endeavours to providing a venue for the social gathering of many Italian migrants, and the “Freccia Azzurra” Club was built in Springvale. For many years, the Saturday Italian classes organized by Fr Julian were frequented by hundreds of children. As the population began to grow in age, Fr Julian decided to open up a “Senior Citizens” venue, which he named after Don Bosco in Oakleigh. His zeal, dedication, strong voice and well delivered homilies always attracted large crowds at the various “festas” that he either organized or at which he took part as Celebrant – not only in the parishes of Oakleigh and Clayton, but also in various rural centres in Victoria. His last project was the building of the Lourdes grotto to Our Lady in the garden in front of the parish church at Clayton.

Large crowds attended the many farewells during the months of September and October, from the “Trevisani” Association to the Veneto Club, from the Freccia Azzurra club to the parish celebrations, from the Salesian College community to the Salesian Province.

Salesian College Chadstone expressed its appreciation to Fr Julian at a whole-school Assembly on Friday October 14, while on Monday October 24 the Salesians held a special Mass and Farewell Dinner for him.

At the farewell celebration of the Australia-Pacific Province, Archbishop Hart sent his apology and deeply-felt expression of gratitude for Fr Julian’s ministry in the Archdiocese of Melbourne: “For more than 50 years Fr Julian has provided remarkable service to the Italian community with joy, enthusiasm and encouragement of people. The Archdiocese is deeply, deeply grateful to him, and his service among the migrant chaplains is without compare in a whole lot of areas”. Archbishop Hart’s words and sentiments were echoed by Archbishop Tim Costelloe, SDB of Perth, who attended the Province farewell celebration, and acknowledged his debt of gratitude to Fr Julian, who was one of his teachers at Salesian College Chadstone. And the expression of gratitude was seconded by Fr Greg Chambers, Salesian Provincial, and also a past pupil of Fr Julian at Salesian College.

The Salesian College family wish Fr Julian a happy retirement in Italy.

Fr Frank Bertagnolli, SDB