Post-WWII Italian Immigration to Australia: The Catholic Church as a Means of Social Integration and Italian Associations as a Way of Preserving Italian Culture
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Historically, most Italians have been Roman Catholics. Also, the majority of Italian immigrants who migrated to Australia have remained Catholics. In Brisbane, in which a large number of Italian migrants migrated in post WWII period, immigrants were actively involved in activities performed around Catholic Parishes. Concurrently, driven by the need for interaction among themselves and also with Australians, Italian migrants built ethnic clubs and associations to facilitate social interaction. This study aims to investigate the extent to which the Catholic Church and cultural clubs and associations has contributed to the social integration process of post WWII first generation Italian migrants in Brisbane. The role of the Catholic Church and cultural associations was explored, namely those activities, which majorly involved Italian migrants within the community since their arrival in Brisbane. Forty participants were interviewed about their religious beliefs and congregational/community activities, which were central for them to enhance life satisfaction and consequently to integrate within the community. The findings reveal that being involved in social activities performed within the catholic parish helped them to give a meaning to their life in the Australian host environment and provided them a supportive community. Attending religious services and congregational social activities helped migrants to find strength and comfort, to overcome hardships, and more importantly to create friendships, which provided them a tool contributing to implementing their individual quality of life or life satisfaction and finally to integrating within the Australian society. In addition, for Italian migrants, the typical national and regional clubs became a recreation/social center, which helped them to preserve their national language, culture and identity.
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