Internet Edition Issue 8
Bishop's Christmas Message
2005 Social Justice Sunday Statement-A Summary
2005 Social Justice Sunday Statement -
Launch Address by Mr Phil Glendenning
2005 Social Justice Sunday Statement-
Response to the Launch Address by Sr Patty Fawkner SGS
From the Office of Justice,
Ecology & Peace
Marcello Bianchini-A Man with a Generous Heart
Marcello Bianchini – A Man with a Generous Heart
Marcello Bianchini left Kalumburu Mission in 1937 after building the unique and wonderful monastery. His marvellous ability to work with stone is evident still today in a building that has withstood a cyclone, some terrific storms and even the bombing by the Japanese in 1942. Marcello was born in Northern Italy in 1889. He migrated to Australia in 1914 and went to work with the Benedictines at the Monastery in New Norcia to the north-east of Perth. He returned to Italy in 1919, married Rosa in 1921 (three children were born in Italy) and migrated permanently to Australia in 1925 (without his family) and again went to New Norcia. After five years of hard work he had saved enough money to bring Rosa and the children to Australia. They arrived on 1 April 1930. Six more children were born in Western Australia.
When a stonemason was required for the monastery project in Kalumburu, Marcello enthusiastically answered the call. Using a local sandstone that is one thousand million years old, Marcello together with some of the Benedictine Community and the Aboriginal people from Kalumburu set about constructing a home of substance and long-lasting integrity. Most of the stone for the building was collected along the river embankment not far from the building site. The rest of the stone was obtained by drilling approximately one metre holes into the bedrock. This was done by using a star drill, sledge hammer and water, then explosives were used to break the rock. This was a slow process. All the stone was then carried to the site by local Aboriginal people.
Marcello trained some of the Monks and Aboriginal workers in the art of pointing the joints of the stone with cement. This enabled him to keep laying stone. As Marcello was skilled in many trades, he also taught the Brothers the trade of plastering the walls which enabled them to finish off the interior of the building after he had left.
After six months toiling away on his labour of love Marcello developed a serious hernia and had to leave. He was told that he could wait some months for a scheduled boat to arrive or he could go overland to Wyndham to catch the State Ship to Perth. His young wife and children awaited him in New Norcia and so he elected to go on a mule guided by three local Aboriginal people, Paul Miúron, Placid Djúdudu and Múrgunda Táur who had worked on the building with him. The group travelled the substantial distance in seven days (it is 240 kms in a straight line!) going from one waterhole to another and passing through rough uncharted country. As his Aboriginal guides moved into the territory of other language groups they cautioned Marcello to wait quietly as they politely negotiated their way through every homeland observing the local customs of the time.
Marcello died in Perth on 6th October 1986 but his story has long been a treasured part of the oral tradition of the Bianchini family. Now his third son Jim and his wife Joan, have had a chance to tell the story publicly. In memory of those who laboured on the monastery project Jim has installed a plaque which was blessed by Bishop Christopher Saunders, the Bishop of the Kimberley. Jim required all of his building skills to fix the memorial to the extremely hard stone walls leaving him in even greater admiration of his father’s ability. The Bianchini family has contributed to the solid cast bronze plaque designed for life long durability.
The plaque reads:
Jim and Joan Bianchini with Dolly Cheinmora (centre) at the dedication ceremony. Photo: CAS
In memory of the many workers
involved in the building of this
monastery in 1937, the
Aboriginal Community of
Kalumburu, the Spanish Monks
of New Norcia and Stonemason,
The plaque was blessed by Bishop Christopher Saunders DD on Thursday 29 September 2005.
Jim Bianchini says he is happy now that Marcello’s work for God has been recognised. More importantly, future generations will come to know the story and to
appreciate the value of Marcello’s generous heart. “I wanted to do this,” said Jim, “because it would be a tragedy should the great effort to produce this work of beauty be forgotten.”
Bishop Saunders said that the Marcello Bianchini building story is part of the rich tapestry of goodness that has made up the Kimberley Mission. “Our Church’s history has been blessed with people like Marcello – a host of lay people, religious, and priests,” the Bishop said. “Sadly some of these people are forgotten by us because their contribution was not recorded. They themselves are happy with their Eternal Reward but it is good for this generation and later generations to remember that we are toiling for God, building on the foundations laid down by those who went before us. I am indebted to Jim and the Bianchini family for bringing Marcello’s story to light. Jim’s plaque is an excellent piece of work in itself, worthy of being fixed to the superb stone Monastery his father brought to life as a building in the service of God.”
“Jim’s kind work in providing and installing the plaque is reminiscent of Marcello’s contribution to our history. Both these loving works signify the need for us all, no matter what we do, to always give glory to God.”
The original monastery building (without the current veranda). Photo: Courtesy Bianchini Family