The Somascan Fathers are an Order of Religious Priests and Brothers, formally known as the Order of Clerics Regular of Somasca (CRS). Their founder is Saint Jerome Emiliani, Venetian +1537, and the Universal Patron Saint of Orphans and Youth-in-Need.
Saint Jerome Emiliani commenced the ‘Company of the Servants of the Poor’ following his miraculous liberation as a prisoner of war by the Blessed Virgin Mary on 27 September 1511, dedicating his life to the reform of the Church by announcing the Paternal Love of God through catechesis and service of the poor, particularly the orphaned, the dying, converted women and those whom society had abandoned.
In 1568, Saint Pope Pius V recognised Saint Jerome Emiliani’s priestly companions of the ‘Company of the Servants of the Poor’ as the Order of Clerics Regular of Somasca (‘Somasca’ is a town situated in the mountains of the south-east coast of Lake Como, Northern Italy, where Saint Jerome Emiliani died and where his body rests).
The Somascan Fathers are a Marian Order, recognising the Blessed Virgin Mary as Co-Foundress and celebrates Our Lady’s liberation of Saint Jerome Emiliani from prison, 27 September, as the Solemnity of BV Mary, Mother of Orphans.
Living Christ’s command to love through the foundation of work, devotion and charity, the Somascan charism is to:
- return the Church back to the holiness that was characteristic of the time of the apostles,
commencing with the dedicated life of fraternal community;
- continue Christ’s mission in proclaiming the Fatherhood of God through catechesis and the service of those most in need, abandoned and forsaken in society, witnessing in the world that God leaves no one ‘orphaned’; and
- follow Christ Crucified, who is the perfect image of the countenance of the Father, carrying with Him
the light burden of the Cross (Somascan Motto: Onus Meum Leve – Mt 11:30).
The Somascan Fathers are not a large religious order but are present in 22 countries across the five continents, supported in alliance with Somascan Sisters and a Somascan Movement of laity.
Since the time of Saint Jerome Emiliani, Somascan apostolates around the world have centred on homes for orphans, abandoned and street youth, for the dying and terminally ill, women in difficulty, either converted from prostitution, widows or to care for women through pregnancy and early mother-hood when no other support is available, parish ministry, seminaries, technical colleges for disadvantaged youth and university young adult ministry.
In 2004, the Somascan Fathers arrived in Australia after having been invited by (then) Archbishop Hickey of Perth, to take carriage of a large parish and school of Saint Jerome, Spearwood. In 2014, the current Archbishop Costelloe consigned a second parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, Rockingham.
In 2020, Archbishop Fisher appointed the Somascan Fathers as administrators of St Joseph, Moorebank and St Christopher, Holsworthy Parishes.
As part of the Somascan Fathers parish ministry, they provide chaplaincy to the attached parochial primary schools, surrounding Catholic Colleges and ministry to hospitals, nursing homes and a number of different ethnic communities.
An Australian branch of the Somascan Movement also exists through which a number of apostolates in Somascan Youth and Young Adult Ministry, service of underprivileged youth in state schools, programs for disabled youth, young mothers and fathers, families in difficulty and youth overseas and local missions are run in close alliance between Somascan religious and laity.