Villa Fatima, Italian migrant hostel, Hurstville, 1952-57

Mrs. Eia Stanich Lynam

Interviewee: Mrs. Eia Stanich Lynam
Date: 11 August 2020
Subject: Villa Fatima, Italian migrant hostel. The hostel was managed by Mrs. Amelia Stanich between 1952-57. Interview with Amelia Stanich’s daughter, Mrs. Eia Stanich Lynam.
Interviewer: Claire Baddeley, Curator, Hurstville Museum and Gallery
Transcript: Hurstville Museum & Gallery staff

For further details regarding this recording, you can find the recording in the Georges River Libraries Catalogue under Villa Fatima, Italian Migrant Hostel, Hurstville, 1952-57.



[ESL] Eia Stanich Lynam

[CB] Claire Baddeley


Interview with Mrs. Eia Stanich Lynam, daughter of Mrs. Amelia Stanich, who was the manager at Villa Fatima between 1952 and 1957, regarding the history of Villa Fatima, its establishment, day-to-day life at the hostel during the 1950s and Amelia Stanich’s role as manager. Villa Fatima, at 67 Woniora Road, Hurstville, was an Italian migrant hostel for single men run by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Leichhardt, Sydney. After the hostel closed in 1957 Amelia Stanich and a number of the Italian migrant men who had worked as artists or potters in Italy formed ‘Villa Fatima Art Pottery’, which operated from 1959 until 1964, from a warehouse in Five Dock.

[00:05] I’m with Mrs. Eia Stanich Lynam, it is Tuesday 11th August 2020, and I’m interviewing her about Villa Fatima, the Italian Migrant Hostel in Hurstville, between 1952 and 1957. 

[00:26] How did you hear about the forthcoming Villa Fatima exhibition? 

There must have been on the internet some call for information about Villa Fatima, and I decided to then get in touch with the museum and find out if I could offer the information that I had. 

[00:52] That’s terrific. And you mentioned to me earlier that your son was also looking; he found the information on the Internet? 

Yes, my son he was recording the family history and he heard about Villa Fatima, it was not something that he was aware of, and he had heard his grandmother actually mention it a few times and wanted to put it in context, and eventually he looked up on the Internet and found that there was some interest in the Villa Fatima history.       

[01:34] That’s great – thank you. And just as a bit of background to your story, are you happy to tell me about your biographical background, your own life? 

[01:44] Yes, well we were refugees from the north-eastern part of Italy which was ceded to Yugoslavia after the Second World War. We were Italian and we were also part of a family that had been influential in trying to keep that part of Italy away from the Yugoslavs and link it to the Italy that won the First World War against Austro-Hungary because until then Austro-Hungary controlled those lands but Austro-Hungary was rather open minded and had allowed an Italian party to be formed whilst they were…you know…governing that part of the world. My grandfather was the leader of the Italian Party and was very prominent in those efforts to maintain the Italian culture and history for the land and so when the Yugoslavs were able to take over our land, our family was particularly in danger because the Slavs in those times went through a period of ethnic cleansing and tried to eliminate any link with the Italian people who had been there especially if they had any, how can I say, role in the politics at the time. 

Anyway, we had to leave and we eventually were able to come to Australia with the International  Refugee Organization (IRO)[1] because we had been declared stateless because our land was occupied and Italy had still not ratified our citizenship, so we came to Australia as refugees and when we came here my father was able to make contact with the Italian consulate and he was then introduced to Father Anastase Paoletti, who they were, at the time proposing, to set up a hostel for migrants because in 1952 they had an influx of Italian migrants and there must have been some economic downturn as there was unemployment at that time and there were a lot of Italians who were…who came here to find work. Many of them of course had also been in the War, you know, Italy was going through a period of economic difficulty, due to the war, so there were many Italians here and the Consul-General and Father Paoletti decided to set up this hostel and they were looking for a manager.   

My father offered to take over the management, my father was a lawyer by…what can I say…background and…but he had absolutely no administrative skills…so he …um, when he was put in charge of the hostel, he sought the help of his very, very good…


Yes, able wife, who was prepared to help him. Then my father decided that perhaps he wasn’t very capable of managing the hostel but left it to my mother to manage. And he returned to Italy to take up government position, with the Italian government. So my mother was left there, at the time. In 1952 I was 18 years old and we were provided with a beautiful apartment which was at the top, with separate entrances, at the top of the hostel and it had accommodation for the family. I have a sister, just myself and my sister, so my mother, myself and my sister…my father too at the beginning…then my father left… my mother , myself and my sister were living in the apartment upstairs, with a separate entrance. We as young girls had very little to do with the downstairs, but my mother of course was… [she] took over the management.

[07:46] My mother had been trained as a bookkeeper and she was an excellent bookkeeper, in fact when Father Anastase had an audit of the books, of the hostel, they praised the way my mother had kept the financial records of the hostel, so everything was running very , very smoothly as far as, you know, the management was concerned. The reason my mother was able to manage the hostel for these young men was because she had the support of the priests who made themselves available at any time to provide support, guidance and discipline if necessary, but there was hardly ever any need for discipline because the hostel, the people who used the hostel were very grateful to have cheap and you know…accommodation and a very homely atmosphere with their own food, what was provided. 

So Italian meals were provided? 

Italian meals…coffee of course for breakfast and so …clean beds and of course they had medical help if they became ill , of course they were…um…doctors were called and they were assisted, in their convalescence. So they…it created a very, very homely atmosphere at the hostel. 

[09:31] Ok, that’s great. Thank you. So you said your sister was there. Was your sister younger or older than you?   

She was younger but she didn’t stay there very long because she was an aspiring ballet dancer.

Ah, OK. 

So she joined the Borovansky Company[2] and eventually went to live elsewhere and train, so I remained with my mother. I had at that time a job, as a bilingual secretary to the representative of the Italian shipping line Lloyd Triestino[3], who were remotely related to us anyway and needed a bilingual…the agent who was Italian… needed to keep in touch with the head office in Trieste. By that time I had learned to speak English because I didn’t speak English until about 2 years earlier and um… so um…I was able to write the letters in both languages in English and Italian. So I had a daily job…I didn’t have much to do with the hostel. But I did meet a lot of the men there … because there were only men. Eventually some of the men brought their wives there and er…I think we had the odd child but very rarely so. And um…eventually I got married and I was in fact, I was…I had my wedding party…ceremony… at Villa Fatima, in the apartment.

[11:40]  That’s great   

Yes… but my role in the management of the hostel was minimal. 

It was more your mother? 

I was helping my mother. 

[12:12] Yes, thank you. Some of this we’ve just covered but you mention that your mother, your sister and yourself lived in a separate apartment above the hostel provided for the manager the whole period the hostel was in operation. And again, you have probably answered this, but how did your mother come to take on the job at the hostel because your father went back to Rome? So what did her role as a manager actually involve at the hostel? 

[12:20] Well first of all it was …she was registering the names of the people who came to the door…of course they were…I have no idea really whether they had first contacted the priests, the fathers, before they came to the hostel.  

Yes, my understanding is that Father Paoletti used to actually meet them when the ships arrived. 


He’d be at the port and then he’d assist them. 

Yes because when they came to the door my mother all she had to do was register the names and inform them of the procedure and inform them of the management of the place. She er…and she , they did pay a certain amount of board which my mother sort of administered but it was very, very small because there were the two meals a day, the lunch and the dinner …you know, the coffee in the morning but that was Italian style. So they did pay some money and my mother managed that. And then father Anastase would send some of his priests or himself to come and check what was happening, they sent an auditor it was sort of kept in check that way. So my mother had the job of being the, how can I say, she was the… what’s the name of it…she was managing the staff because she needed cleaners and sometimes she would encourage some of the people who lived there to work for her.

To help out?

Either as cleaners or as cooks or …um…and eventually the hostel…Father Paoletti and the hostel they bought a car which was needed for the provisions for the kitchen and the cleaning and various things. 

[14:54] Sounds like your mother did very well in the role. Do you think it was a job that she enjoyed? 

Well my mother was always a very conscientious sort of person, she was a very motherly sort of person and she was, she had a tremendous sense of…how I can say…style…but she was very stern. There was no, no one took any liberty with her and she keeps everyone in their right place.       

[Laughs] Yes

She had beautiful blue eyes … and she would look at them very, very sternly if ever they ever put a foot… 

A foot wrong? 

A foot out of place so there was never, never any …she never had any problems there. 

With discipline or anything? 

Not at all and she was also very good and she remained so until her very late…in life. She died in 98 [1998] and she was here with me, she was able to make people work very hard for her and they would seem to do it gladly for some reason [laughs]  … but I don’t think they realized how hard they worked! [laughs] 

She obviously had that knack to get people to do that …yeah? 

She had a marvellous knack…yes. 

Thank you, that’s good to get a bit of a sense of what her role was. So, you mentioned before that you were 18 when you were at the hostel, so you were working at that stage, and you also mentioned that you sometimes assisted your mother at the hostel but it was mainly your mother who managed it. 

Yes that’s right, with staff. 

So what are your memories of sort of day-to-day life at the hostel? What was it like do you think to live there? 

Well the young men that were there were a varied lot. Some were almost illiterate. I remember there is this story of a young man who came from a very, very poor background, peasant background. And one of the rare times my mother found that somebody had defecated on the floor in the bathroom. And er…and she found out what was happening. And the poor man he said that the bath bowl looked so clean that he didn’t want to dirty it [laughs]. 

Oh. [laughs]

So that was the degree of …you know, how can I say…background, education that some of the people had. Others instead were…you know…highly skilled, one was a trained tenor, others had been trained in different, you know, trades and there were all unemployed but looking for employment. We had a very good bricklayer who eventually was able to work very well. We had a young man like Nick Scali[4], who was there only temporarily but he was one. It was a transit place really, but where people felt very much at home and felt supported because of the homely atmosphere and also because the priests were in the background and they were there to provide any contact or help or advice or guidance.     

[18:44] So for you living there what was it like? I guess not everybody at 18 is living near a hostel full of young men. 

It was fun. Because I learned to drive, I learned to drive that car, because eventually I did drive for the hostel, when they needed to go and do some shopping. But one of the priests taught me to drive and when I went to sit for my test the police who tested me was a bit intimidated by the priest who was taking me there. And he gave me a pass straightaway… [laughs]…well he made me try and drive but admittedly I was able to , so I was able to learn to drive. But there was this, a tremendous sense of how can I say friendship, and respect and fun you know, ‘cause Italians can be rather [laugh]… and enjoy what they have. 

Yes, enjoy life. 

I think there was wine served at meals, but there was never any drunkenness… you know…the wine was served as part of the meal. So there wasn’t any restriction or any abuse or anything as I remember anyway. 

Thank you. You may have touched on this but do you recall particular stories of some of the men at the hostel during the time you lived there? So most of the men at the hostel were in their 20s and 30s and single when they live there? 

Or married but looking for a job, yes. 

Ok, so some were married.

And looking for a job. Many were going back quickly to get married or … the most important thing for them was to find a job and then move on to Port Kembla as is mentioned there or some of the places where they could earn some money and then, you know, move on. 

[20:54] So do you recall some of the individual stories about some of the men? Were there ones that stood out?

Father Masuzzo stands out a lot because he was, as I mentioned, he was a brother in one of the missionary orders who had served, I think, in North Africa and was a very devout priest but he had asked permission to the head of his order to be able to go and earn some money probably teaching or something so that he could help his mother who had…who was starving and had no means of support and he was refused the support. So for some reason he decided to migrate to Australia and sought help from Father Anastase and Father Anastase gave him a room at the hostel and gave him also some tasks to do like drive the car and gave him a bit of moral support…to the boys and help around and Father Masuzzo was part of the boys in a sense …um…he eventually returned to his order when his mother died and went back to Italy…but he was with us for quite a few years. And there were many others. I still remember this very distinguished young man who came from one of the most distinguished families in Italy who was backpacking and came to stay with us and that was quite a treat to have a young man like that. He was only there for a short time, he was backpacking. 

[22:56] So what was life like at Villa Fatima for the migrant men? So what did they sort of do day-to-day, what were their days like? 

Well many of them were looking for work of course and they would gather for lunch and for dinner and many would play after dinner, they would play cards.  


And I can’t remember whether it was chess or something like this or dominos…there was very rarely someone who had an instrument and would play and sing and that was that too, but there was just camaraderie and friendship and…er…sharing stories of, you know, of their lives and how they were progressing in their search for jobs because that was all they wanted really.

Their main concern? 


[23:56] So newspaper reports at the time of the opening of the hostel in June 1952 indicate it was intended to accommodate up to 70 single men at a time. Was that the case? 

Yes [laughs] 

Were there times when there were more or less and were there ever women living there? 

No, never.

No women at all? 

No women at all. Never. 

So sometimes there were more than seventy or less than 70? 

I can’t remember actually but I think that was the number that they catered for because they had to fill the beds. The beds were in double bunks and…er um …sometimes I think two double bunks per room . 

So four in a room? 


So were there times, do you remember, when it might have been quieter, fewer men, or was it fairly consistent? 

I can’t remember frankly as I wasn’t there during the day but eventually, you know, at the end towards 56 [1956].


Yes, the numbers declined because there was more work and people were able to…er… they didn’t need that kind of accommodation. 

[25:18] So apart from your mother, who ran the hostel, were there other people who worked there? What were their sorts of jobs?   

Oh well, I mean I remember we had a Sicilian cook who was there with his wife so he had accommodation,  and he was quiet a good cook and the boys enjoyed his cooking. Then we had a woman who was a good cook , her husband also lived there and they had a child I remember and um…I don’t know where they put all these people but , you know, they were there [laughs]  …I can’t really remember very clearly. 

That’s OK. And you mentioned earlier that your mother had cleaners there? 

Oh, yes, yes. She was very good at recruiting some of the boys and giving them, you know, a role to play and then perhaps some reward. Whatever that was I don’t know. But she was very good at getting people to do whatever needed to be done. And she would, as you’ve seen there, there is a photograph there, of her with an apron, she would be down in the kitchen, supervising, and making sure that everything was running properly. And then in the evening after everybody had had dinner sometimes the priests would come and stay with the boys.

Ok, to spend time with them in the evening?

Upstairs and they would stay for dinner at our place and we have a very pleasant dinner with the priests upstairs. They would become friends of the family.

[27:53] Thank you. Do you remember if other government or welfare organisations visited Villa Fatima to assist the men or was it mainly just the Capuchins?  

I don’t know. There must have been some supervision by some authority, whether it was a health authority or I have no idea really. But I think that anything like that would have been taken care of by Father Anastase. 

Because it was unusual at the time for migrant hostels to be run independent of government, so they used to be run by government and this was obviously run by the church.   

It was very much …and let’s keep in mind that my mother spoke very poor English. Eventually she learned, but her English was very poor at the time. 

I was just getting a sense again of whether it was independent from these other groups, but it sounds like it was. 

Yes, but as I’m saying any administrative requirement would have been done through the Father, Father Anastase. 

[28:40] Yes. What do you recall about the men at the hostel settling into their new lives in Australia? You mentioned that they were most keen to get jobs but do you think that they faced many challenges?

Oh well they did. The language of course…many of them…

Learning English?

Yes, learning English but the majority of them were trying to find a placement for their skills…many of them were valued for their skills despite the lack of language. I remember one of the people who was staying at the hostel  was  a man who had been in Australia as a prisoner-of-war and he had been employed as a prisoner -of-war in the field, in agriculture, so at the end of the war he returned to Italy and then he found out that his family needed some income and he came to Australia to work …erm…to send money to his home and eventually he had an accident at the Water Board, he was working at the Water Board, he had an accident and he was helped through his illness at the hostel. But there people like him who had been prisoners of war who came back to Australia to earn some money. Hoping to find a job, to earn some money.

Wow, that’s an amazing story.

And I don’t know whether you want to put into the story that, you know…

So that’s interesting too…if you are happy to tell me that story?

Yeah, well as I was saying, my mother was very motherly, she would take care of the men who were sick and she would provide the broth and the food that was proper to them and when they were very ill they felt very vulnerable, these men.

Yes, of course.

Anyway my mother would sort of look after them and they eventually returned to Italy. This young man who gave my mother this beautiful photograph he… see how well dressed he is?… he’s a labourer, you know, a beautiful suit, a beautiful tie and beautiful haircut and he was a labourer and before he went back to Italy, having probably earned some money, he must have earned some money because he decided to give my mother a present and thank her for having taken care of him when he was sick and I don’t know whether you want me to read this?

Yes, please do.

[31:28] That’s …my mother received…my mother who never wore any jewellery she was always…how do you say…she dressed very simply, but this young man on the 18th August 1954 he left a handwritten note ; ‘Mrs. Stanich as I am now at the vigil of my departure from Villa Fatima what you will see , [a box he had given her]  I must remember that only my mother would have done, what you have done with the heart of a mother, have done for me in the past. I would have liked to do more but believe me I was not able. I believe you will appreciate my miserable initiative, I do not know your tastes, but I have done the best I could. Don’t be offended. Signora, I would be unhappy. Wishing much goodness a thousand, and thousands of times, greater than what you have done for me… [Eia sighs and briefly has a few tears here]. I will remember you as my second mother. Ugodino Gerfredi’. And it was a most beautiful string of pearls. 

Yes, I’m sure that was a very large undertaking for him to save the money to buy the peals and to express his thoughts this way towards your mother.

And also concerned that she may be offended by the gift. Very humbly, he sort of didn’t want to appear as if it wasn’t…

Yes, that’s right. He probably thought did this gift express enough of the gratitude that I feel.

Yes, in a proper way, that’s what he was concerned about. So that was the type of men that were there; he wasn’t the only one.

[34:04] Thank you, that’s a wonderful story. I was just wondering, as we said, the men faced many challenges; they had to learn English; they had to get a job; they were a long way from their families. Do you have a sense of how the local community in Hurstville in the 1950s and surrounding areas reacted to an Italian migrant hostel in their suburb? Do you think the community was supportive of the men or were there sometimes tensions and problems?

I doubt it. I doubt it because the police of course were alerted to the fact that there were all these men at the hostel and when the hostel closed there was a… it was reported that the sergeant from the police station commented that whilst after the hostel was vacated by the Italians and taken over by some other company, Australian company, they started to have problems with the people at that new hostel, they said that whilst we had the ‘little woman’ [Amelia Stanich] managing you know, 80 or 70 Italian men, we never had any trouble there. So I doubt that there was any problem …people in those days were too busy looking for a job than to be bothered with …how could I say…racist or chauvinistic remarks by the other; they took no notice of it. They needed to work with the Australians anyway to be able to earn some money so they were pretty indifferent to what was being said about them. 


But I don’t remember any of the boys getting into any serious trouble ever.

[36:11] Well, that’s a good thing. You mentioned that your family were close friends with Father Paoletti, from the Franciscan Friars, who established the hostel. What was he like and how involved was he and the Friars, with the running of the hostel? 

Oh, he was the …how could I say…in the old days families used to have the spiritual father, the…what did they call it…the live in priest …well he was the spiritual father of the place. He was there all the time, very approachable. He was very kind towards my mother, very supportive. He commiserated my mother for being so kind to my father; he said only someone as kind as you would be so…how can I say…loyal to a man, your husband [laughs], who decided just to go back to Italy. So he was more like a brother to my mother, he was tremendous supportive, very respectful of course, but he gave her tremendous strength and that’s why she was able to do that work, she wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. Apart from the fact if there was any…you know…economic or practical problem she would either try to fix it herself or get the priest Father Paoletti  to organize, to get some help. So she felt very supported and she was …we had a very cordial relationship. I’ve probably told you that at one stage one of us, one of my sisters and I had to turn up at a debutante ball and there was no one to drive us. One of the priests there offered to drive us…and the poor man…you know [laughs] he had this girl in evening dress driven to the Tivoli[5], but of course he didn’t stay [laughs] but I’m saying that they were so supportive and so friendly and they treated us like their younger sisters you know, we did feel as if we had older brothers there…you know, it was very lovely.

[38:35] From what I read about him [Father Paoletti] it seemed that he was a very dynamic and passionate individual and he was concerned about the welfare of the Italian migrants in New South Wales.

That was paramount for him, yes.  

And I believe that he used to go out into regional New South Wales as well and meet with Italian migrant families there too, as pastoral activities?

What I believe, and I can’t really say that for sure, but I suspect he was instrumental in setting up a seminary.


With the help of this wealthy Italian business people, benefactors, but I can’t really remember but I know that he went …he tried to set up a seminary, away from Villa Fatima of course. Somewhere out west somewhere. So there was more, more…there were enterprises that he was involved with, but I really can’t remember. 

[39:33] Thank you for that. So Villa Fatima closed in 1957. Do you have a sense of why it was closed then? 

Well it was closed then because there was no more the need for that and my dear mother continued to remain there and she had…I had married… in fact I was expecting a child, I didn’t have child, but I had married so I was moving out and so my mother had really no longer the role to play in that place. And so we found a house to buy in Carlton and we bought it, my mother and I, not my father. Father Anastase was able to provide the, how could I say, the references, which were two single women trying to buy a house. But we had saved the money and we had…I was earning of course…so he was able to provide the references and we moved to Carlton. But her role had finished there. I fact one of the boys from Carlton, moved with us, no from Hurstville, moved with us to Carlton. 

Ah, OK. 

And he had a room at the back of the house and the poor man, he worked for the Water Board, and whenever he came home, I remember, he would come to the kitchen and have his coffee and my mother would say ‘now we’ve got that to do in the garden’ and the poor man he had hardly time to recover from his job [laughs] that he was made to look after the garden but you know  , but he was grateful because he had a family in Italy and he was grateful to be in a family here. He eventually went back to Italy, when he had enough money to return.  But some of the boys came to Carlton to do plumbing work, of course on payment; we continued to have men, people visiting.

[41:58] One of the other people I’ve met, a man called Peter Cozzi, his sister Liliana was not really ‘dating’ but seeing one of the men from the hostel, he said that when the hostel closed, his words were ; ‘the gathering and sense of Italian community in the area disappeared’.


Do you think this is true? 

Of course, yes. 

Do you think there was a feeling that that era had passed? 

Well very likely because the Italian community at that time seemed to try… seemed to…how do you say…congregate in Leichhardt, not in Hurstville. There was no community of Italians in Hurstville. And Italians like many migrants liked to congregate amongst the group because of the language, because people like my mother or the people who didn’t have much education had difficulty. So they wanted, whenever they had to do the shopping or, you know, meeting neighbours, they could only speak Italian and they found that Leichhardt, where the church was, was the centre for the Italians. Hurstville, other than the hostel, didn’t seem to have an Italian Club or any other …restaurants, even in those days they didn’t have like they have now, Italian restaurants, because they used to use garlic…and drank coffee [laughs]. 

I think that’s an interesting observation, another person mentioned that too. So with a lot of the Italian men that went back to Italy did they keep in touch with your mother after they returned? 

Well some did, some didn’t, no. But I can’t remember. 

[44:22] That’s OK. After Villa Fatima closed, it was operated as ‘Fatima Art Pottery’?

Well, yes. As the….um…the hostel was closing[6] , some of the people who had not been able to find some occupation for themselves …and my mother, who realized that she no longer had, you know, a role to play, decided to get together with this man…his name was Vanito who had …he was a highly skilled ceramicist in Italy and put the idea to his mate, one of these men who was here, whose name I can’t remember, ‘ why don’t we start to make pottery here?’. And my mother, who at the time had some savings, said ‘well why don’t we do something about it?’. Dear Father Masuzzo, who was the runner, or what do they call it?…the roustabout, he used to drive everybody around. He also became part of the Villa Fatima group and so through a contact, through Father Anastase, they were able to have access to a warehouse, an empty warehouse, near Leichhardt, which is in Five Dock and started making pottery. And the problem was selling it then and at the time I was working for, working as a bilingual secretary again, for the Olivetti Company, the head office in Sydney and they …all the boys here, including my mother, said ‘Eia we need someone to go and sell this stuff’ and I’m not a salesperson but I could drive the car so I left my job at Olivetti…for a while anyway, I took a holiday and started going from shop to shop to shop trying to sell this stuff, which was horrible , I didn’t like it [laughs].  Anyway one of the…at one of the shops there was a…one of those salesman who go sell other things and he heard about this Italian woman who was trying to sell this strange pottery and he said why don’t you give me the agency so I can do it and of course I was very happy to return to my secretarial work. 


But you know, they couldn’t sell…they tried to be modern and progressive but it didn’t seem to sell.

There wasn’t really a market for it in Australia, in Sydney? 

Well…I mean …the product wasn’t…you know…not that great [laughs]

Ok. But the art pottery lasted a number of years; the business ran for a number of years? 

[48:29] Yes, that’s it. My mother kept the books, of course, she was very good at that but …thank God I didn’t have much more to do with it.


So that was the end of it, as far as we were concerned. Father Paoletti eventually, I think he had a role with the seminary; I’d like to find a bit more about it. But eventually returned to America to his family[7]

That’s right. Well thank you Eia, that’s been fantastic, so comprehensive and such a great overview of your time there, your mother’s role and all the people involved, so thank you very much for your time.

It was a pleasure.

[48:42] [Finish]

[1] The International Refugee Organization (IRO) was an intergovernmental organization founded in April 1946 to deal with the massive refugee problem created by World War II. In 1948, the treaty establishing the IRO formally entered into force and it became a United Nations specialized agency. In 1952, operations of the IRO ceased, and it was replaced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Between 1948 and 1952 the IRO rehabilitated around 10 million people, out of the 15 million people who were stranded in Europe after the War. [See:

[2] Edouard Borovansky (1902 – 1959) was a Czech- born Australian ballet dancer, choreographer and director. He and his wife, Xenia, settled in Australia where they established the Borovansky Ballet Company in 1940. In 1951 Borovansky assembled a second company called the Borovansky Jubilee Ballet which was sponsored by the Education in Music and Dramatic Arts Society as well as J. C. Williamson’s. [See:

[3] Lloyd Triestino was a shipping company, founded as Austrian Lloyd, an insurance company in 1833. When Trieste became part of Italy in 1919 the company name was changed to Lloyd Triestino. A shipping section was established in 1936, and Lloyd Triestino became one of the world’s biggest shipping companies. After the Second World War Lloyd Triestino developed new and modern ships for popular services to Australia for migrant and the tourist passengers. [See: ‘Lloyd Triestino migrant ships’,]   

[4] Nick Scali (b. 1934- ) migrated to Australia from Italy. He founded Nick Scali Furniture in 1962 which has become one of Australia’s largest furniture retailers.  

[5] The New Tivoli Theatre, Sydney, was a theatre and music hall at 329 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. It was generally called the Tivoli Theatre and operated between 1911 and 1966, before being demolished in 1969. [See:,_Sydney

[6] Villa Fatima closed in 1957. It was subsequently sold and bought, to reopen as another hostel, not associated with the Capuchin Friars. Although called ‘Villa Fatima Pottery’, this business, managed by Amelia Stanich and some Italian men from the former Villa Fatima, did not operate out of this building in Hurtsville, but from a warehouse in Five Dock, Sydney.  

[7] The Very Rev. Father Anastase Paoletti O.F.M. arrived in Australia in October 1945 from the United States. He travelled to Sydney and was installed as the Parish Priest at St. Fiacre’s Church in Leichhardt in November 1946. By 1953 he had become the Australian Superior of the Capuchin Order and was one of four priests who ran Villa Fatima and undertook missionary work in NSW among Italian communities, visiting Broken Hill, Forbes, Balranald and other communities. In January 1954 he received the ‘Stella della Solidarieta’ medal from the Italian government for promoting the spiritual welfare of Italian migrants. [see: ‘Capuchin Priest Honored’, Catholic Weekly, Thurs 7 Jan 1954, p. 2]