No. 591 - Granton - Our Lady Queen of Croatians and Queen of Peace

Granton is a suburb of Greater Hobart and is situated approximately 20 kilometres north of the city centre. Originally known as South Bridgewater, it was renamed as a tribute to Charles Henry Grant, one time General Manager of the Main Line Railway which opened in 1876.

Tasmania is home to about 1200 Croatians and their families. The first Croatians came to Tasmania in the 19th century but most migrated after World War Two, either for political or economical reasons.

On eighth of December 1992, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the church at Granton was consecrated to ‘Our Lady Queen of Croatians and Queen of Peace’ by the Archbishop of Split.

In the late 1980s the Croatian community, led by Fr Hunski, began to build a church at Granton. Fr Hunski contributed much of the labour, particularly with the construction of the church tower. The church is is a legacy to the faith and community spirit of the Croatian people in Tasmania. The church is also known as the Croatian Catholic Centre and falls under the Catholic Archdiocese of Hobart.

In 2021 the Catholic Standard published the following tribute to Fr Hunski on the occasion of his 40th anniversary as a priest:

"It should have been his 60th anniversary, notes the 85-year-old Fr Hunski, but Communist intervention during his high school education meant that his vocation was put on hold. Born in the former Yugoslavia during the Spanish Civil War, Fr Hunski’s first language is Spanish, due to Spanish refugees taking on child minding duties for his family. When he was still a child, his parents were imprisoned for their political beliefs and Fr Hunski was raised by aunts.

He went on to study Classics in high school at the equivalent of a minor seminary, until he and other seminarians were removed from school. He was instead put to work in a chemical laboratory. After the laboratory came a stint of national service, before Fr Hunski fled his country and ended up in a refugee camp in Italy. He emigrated to Australia and became an Australian citizen. English is his ninth language.

In the 1970s his mother became ill and he travelled back to Yugoslavia to see her. However, his passport was confiscated by the authorities and he was unable to leave. He hid in a Carmelite monastery for more than three years, undertaking manual work for the community. From the Carmelite monastery, Fr Hunski began studies in theology, once more on track to becoming a priest. He was ordained on April 11, 1981.

Fr Hunski served in Croatia for five years. To procure a bell for one of his churches, he melted down empty ammunition shells and a statue of the Communist leader Tito.

Fr Hunski was sent to Australia as the chaplain to Tasmania’s Croatian Catholic community in 1986....Initially celebrating Masses at St John’s Church in Glenorchy, the Croation community soon made plans to build a presbytery and community centre, and a church. Fr Hunski took an active hand in building the Croatian church in Granton, particularly the bell tower, which he warns visitors to walk past quickly in case it falls down.

Last year, to ensure its future, the Church of Our Lady Queen of Croatia and Queen of Peace was gifted to the Archdiocese of Hobart, with the Croatian community retaining full use and access. Fr Hunski celebrates daily Mass in English each morning at 8am, and in Croatian at 11am on Sundays....".


Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2019


Photograph supplied with thanks to Walter Pless (2023)


The rectory - photograph supplied with thanks to Walter Pless (2023)



Sources:

https://hobart.catholic.org.au/archbishop/homilies/our-lady-queen-croatians-pray-us-twenty-fifth-anniversary-opening-our-lady-queen

https://hobart.catholic.org.au/2021/04/19/fr-hunski-celebrates-40-years-of-priesthood-2/




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