Croatian 40th

NOT that long ago these photos of Croatians building a community centre would have been of great interest to the authorities in the former Yugoslavia.

It’s 1977 and Josip Broz Tito rules Yugoslavia with an iron fist and his Perth consulate keep tabs on the Croat immigrants; their dream of an independent home lies only in their hearts and minds.

But today (Saturday, October 28) marks 40 years since the centre’s inception, and it’s 26 years since the independent state of Croatia was proclaimed, so the Croatian community is having a huge party.

• Volunteers building the Crotian centre in North Fremantle.

Early in the 70s a small group of Croatian men followed their priest Veceslav Supuk to meet Perth’s archbishop Lancelot Goody to plead for a place of worship. Goody had spent two years studying in the Croatian port of Split and was sympathetic to their cause, bestowing St Anne’s church in North Fremantle to the fledgling community.

He offered to sell half the church’s land to them for a community centre and even kicked in the first $5000.

The first mass was conducted by Rev Supuk on November 20, 1971, and the old primary school behind, which had fallen behind, became the meeting place that eventually morphed into the Croatian club thanks to volunteer labourers.

by EDDIE ALBRECHT

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