The History of Majellan
Since 1946 Majellan has provided advice and comfort to parents who have struggled with the ups and downs of their own relationships and raising families.
The story of the Majellan magazine began in 18th century Italy and the work of St Alphonsus Liguori and St Gerard Majella. St Alphonsus, the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer was, among other things, a spiritual writer, composer, musician, artist, poet and lawyer. But unlike St Alphonsus who was a priest, St Gerard was a lay brother. What they had in common was a devotion to the poor.
Move forward two centuries and in the small Victorian city of Ballarat, the Redemptorist Fathers started a quarterly magazine which they named after St Gerard Majella. The magazine’s origins began as a bulletin, the League of St Gerard. The first editorial in 1949 said the Majellan was for Catholic mothers and St Gerard is their special patron – the mother’s saint.
Thus began The Majellan Magazine. We invite you to share our journey over the decades as we evolved to be who we are today – Majellan Media. Because Family still matters most!
As the world recovered from the ravages of World War 2, prime minister Ben Chifley led Australia into peaceful times but the unpopular wartime petrol rationing remained. Australia’s automobile industry stepped up a gear with the first Holden car coming off the production line.
The League of St Gerard bulletin, produced by the Redemptorist Fathers in Ballarat, was first printed in 1946. Five more bulletins would follow over the next few years. Such was their popularity, the bulletins were transformed into a quarterly magazine and retitled The Majellan. Introducing the first magazine in January, 1949, the editor Fr John Hogan CSsR said the magazine was for Catholic mothers. ‘The Majellan contains useful instruction on Marriage, on the training of the young, and on the virtues that should adorn the Catholic Home.’
Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Doris Day were old hat for teenagers who were hooked on a new rock’n roll craze. Hits such as Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Rock Around the Clock’ by Bill Haley and his Comets were setting the music agenda for younger generations. Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952 after the death of her father King George VI. Australian cities began pulling up their tram tracks, Melbourne being the exception.
Large Catholic families were the ‘norm’ and Australia’s post war migrant intake and baby boom began in earnest. Against this backdrop The Majellan was developing a strong following amongst Catholic families. Fr Bill Stinson CSsR put on the editor’s hat at The Majellan in early 1954 taking over from the foundation editor Fr John Hogan CSsR.
The Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union at its height, the Cuban missile crisis provided a big test for young president, John F Kennedy. Little more than a year later JFK was assassinated in Dallas. Later in the decade, Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy were also targeted by assassins. Harold Holt had a short reign as prime minister until he drowned in the ocean at Portsea, Victoria.
Vatican II, under the reigns of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, was held from 1962-65, introducing important Church reforms. A 1967 referendum to amend the constitution to recognise Indigenous Australians was overwhelmingly endorsed.
Earlier in the decade Majellan moved from Ballarat to Brighton in Melbourne in 1963. It became known as Majellan House where we stayed until December 2021.
The door was firmly shut on the White Australia policy after the Whitlam government implemented a series of amendments in 1973 to prevent the enforcement of racial aspects of the immigration law. The Vietnam war ended and the Watergate scandal broke, forcing the resignation of US president Richard Nixon. Australia endured its own constitutional crisis with the sacking of prime minister Gough Whitlam. Pope Paul VI died and was replaced by Pope John Paul I who himself passed away 33 days later: he was succeeded by Pope John Paul II.
After humble beginnings in a regional Victorian city, The Majellan enjoyed its silver jubilee in 1973. After stints as associate editor and a writer over many years, Fr Max Barrett CSsR replaced Fr Bill Stinson CSsR as editor of The Majellan in 1979.
There were assassination attempts on US president Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II and the Soviet Union was ‘opened up’ courtesy of Mikhail Gorbachev and his Glasnost and Perestroika reforms. A 74-day war broke out between Argentina and Britain over the Falklands, a small group of islands in the South Atlantic and the space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after lift-off killing all seven crew. Madonna was top of the pops for much of the decade with hits such as Papa Don’t Preach and Material Girl.
Musical chairs in the Majellan editor’s chair in 1985 with Fr Bill Stinson CSsR once again donning the top hat after a six-year break. After a 30-year involvement with the magazine, Fr Max Barrett CSsR moved on to greener pastures.
Technology reigned supreme with the introduction of the world wide web, computer emails and the widespread use of mobile phones. The communications revolution was in full swing with information now available at the touch of a button. The Gulf War raged in the Middle East after Iraq invaded Kuwait and the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, with some NASA scientists predicting it could operate until 2040.
The October-December 1995 issue of The Majellan was the last for long serving editor Fr Bill Stinson CSsR, 76, who passed away in August that year. Associated with The Majellan for more than 40 years, the headline that accompanied a tribute article on Fr Stinson simply said, ‘Mr Majellan’.
Despite dire warnings about the Y2K or millennium bug, planes didn’t fall out of the sky and the world as we know it didn’t end in the early hours of January 1, 2000. The Majellan editor Fr Paul Bird CSsR referenced the topic in a tongue in cheek story.
Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics with Cathy Freeman’s win in the 400 metres final a highlight. A year later New York suffered a major terrorist attack after hijacked planes were flown into the World Trade Centre. An undersea earthquake triggered a series of tsunamis along coast lines in the Indian Ocean killing about 230,000 people. Pope John Paul 11 died after almost 27 years leading the world’s more than one billion Catholics.
After 14 years as editor Fr Paul Bird CSsR was appointed the Redemptorist Provincial and Fr Michael Gilbert CSsR took over the mantle as editor in 2009.
Australians were bewildered by the revolving door at Canberra’s Parliament House, with four prime ministers in as many years. Barack Obama, the first African American president, stepped down in January 2017 after two terms in office. Queen Elizabeth marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne and three years later she surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest serving British monarch. An earthquake and tsunami hit Japan claiming around 16,000 lives and the Arab Spring resulted in regime changes in the Middle East.
Mary McKillop, who founded the Sisters of St Joseph in Penola, South Australia became Australia’s first saint. Pope Francis was elected the first Jesuit pontiff after the shock resignation of Benedict XVI.
In 2014 after six years at the helm, Fr Michael Gilbert CSsR was replaced by David Ahern, the first lay person to be appointed editor. And in 2012 former editor Fr Paul Bird CSsR was appointed the eighth Bishop of Ballarat.