History and Background The “Federazione Cattolica Italiana (FCI)” or Italian Catholic Federation was formally established in 1960 in order “to be a lay force for the Scalabrini Fathers” and to be able to “give material and spiritual assistance to the Italian migrants”. The 50’s and 60’s were a time when Italian migration to Australia was of large proportion thus rendering the missionaries work extremely difficult. Fifty years on, the FCI is still operating throughout Australia albeit in a totally different world. FCI members helped the Italian priests by taking communion to the sick and the elderly Italians in their parishes. They also drove the elderly to Mass, read in church and ministered communion on Sunday. Just like our past members, the FCI still offers support to any one in need and especially in times of illness, grief or difficulties. Through the FCI, members have been united as “a family” and have been able to participate in and gain a better understanding of the Mass by having it celebrated in their own language. Members have also learnt of the Scalabrinian founder ‘Beato Giovanni Battista Scalabrini’ and of his spirituality. Basically, the FCI has followed the work of the ‘Azione Cattolica Italiana’ of Italy. The FCI is currently comprised of 19 branches or “Sezioni” throughout Australia and has over 800 members. There are 9 branches in Victoria, 7 branches in New South Wales and 3 branches in Queensland. The activities of the FCI are religious, social and community based. The main religious activity is the Mass in Italian where members can actively participate; this opportunity would otherwise not be available. Central to this, is the availability of the Scalabrinian priests assigned to the various branches. Unfortunately, not all branches are blessed with a spiritual leader. In some cases, other Italian speaking priests fulfil that role. Other religious activities include “retreats” which centre on faith education. Social activities fulfil two roles; to provide social and cultural interaction within the community and to fundraise for charitable and religious purposes. In any given year, donations from all branches can and have approached $100,000. Community based activities include “Care and Concern” groups, assisting and visiting the sick and assisting newly arrived immigrants of different nationalities and religions. Branches generally meet once a month to plan their activities and where possible, the Scalabrinian Father also attends. A religious discussion forms part of the meeting’s agenda. The FCI & St Gertrude’s Parish If you would like more information about the NSW Branch of the FCI in Smithfield, please visit: http://www.italiancatholicfederation.org.au/enbranches.html#smithfield The FCI of St. Gertrude’s Parish meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm in the hall at St. Theresa’s.