Saturday, 8 February 2020

Rev. Jonas Tamulis (1915- 2010)

The previous post gave a very brief history of the short-lived Australian Lithuanian journal Užuovėja, published monthly during 1949 and 1950. While the publication had several editors during that time - Julius Veteikis, Petras Pilka, Vincas Kazokas, Mikas Apinys, and Fr. Petras Butkus -  it was underwritten, and probably the brainchild, of a remakable Lithuanian priest, Jonas Tamulis.

Accounts vary, but Tamulis appears to have been born in England around 1915. The family returned to Lithuania while he was quite young and settled in the village of Žindaičiai, near Jurbarkas. Ordained a priest in 1940, he was one of the group of British citizens permitted to leave Lithuania during the first soviet occupation (1940-41) who made their way to Vladivostok and then to Australia aboard the Hai Tan, arriving in December 1940.

Tamulis spent the remaining war years as an army chaplain in Brisbane but was able to reach the USA in early 1946. For a while he ministered to the St Casimir Lithuanian parish in Los Angeles before being posted to another parish. By the late 1940s Australia's Mass Migration Scheme was attracting large numbers of displaced Lithuanians from European refugee camps and Tamulis volunteered to return to Australia.

From December 1948 Tamulis worked as a chaplain at the Migrant Reception Centre in Bathurst. From there he was able to travel to Sydney and other regional centres to provide religious services to the newly forming Lithuanian communities, and it was very soon after his arrival that Užuovėja first appeared. Produced by the Society of St Casimir on a rotary hand press, each 30 page edition aspired to high journalistic standards with news, information, and articles on literature, science, and the arts. Initially published from the Bathurst camp, by November 1949 it had found a home in Sydney.

As well as providing regular church services in Sydney, Rev. Tamulis was also responsible for the establishment of the first Lithuanian Catholic Centre in Sydney (at 5 Young Street, Circular Quay) and a Lithuanian weekend school. However by 1950 he had fallen into disfavour with the Australian church hierarchy - apparently because of his attempts to promote the establishment of a Lithuanian parish in Australia - and returned to the USA where he followed his religious vocation in Michigan until retirement in 1991.

Sources (see Links on RHS):
Australian Lithuanians;
Mūsų Pastogė (1949-50); and
Metraštis No.1 (p98).