Joy and gratitude has marked the 75-year anniversary celebrations in Melbourne for the Missionary Sisters of Service.
The celebrations took place on Sunday, the day before the official anniversary marking 75 years since the founding of the Missionary Sisters of Service by Fr John Wallis, in Launceston, Tasmania, with four women (Gwen Morse, Monica Carroll, Joyce O’Brien and Kath Moore) who answered his call.
Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli led the anniversary mass at St Thomas the Apostle church, together with parish priest Fr Terry Bowman MSC.
“Certainly this work of bringing Christ into the lives of all people, by going out to them, has been at the heart of the apostolic charism of the Missionary Sisters of Service over these past 75 years,” Archbishop Comensoli said.
“As their mission states: ‘We are a community of women called to be bearers of hope in our world. To bring the good news of justice, compassion and peace to all creation. That all may be transformed by the power of the gospel. We have a particular concern for people in the margins, geographically, culturally, spiritually, or socially’.
“In quite unique ways, using dare I say quite unique modes of transport, you Missionary Sisters of Service have been the travelling presence of Jesus into some of the most far flung and challenging locations in our country.
"You women of God have gone where others would not, and have brought the joy and the care of the gospel to people who would otherwise have never known of their dignity and worth in Jesus Christ. So thank you. Thank you.”
Twelve of the 26 sisters attended the Melbourne celebration, including one who had travelled from Whyalla, South Australia. Anniversary celebrations will take place in other locations where the sisters live – Toowoomba, Mackay and Bribie Island in Queensland and Hobart, Tasmania.
In reflecting on their 75-year milestone, MSS Congregational Leader, Sr Stancea Vichie, marvelled at the foresight of the order’s young founder, Fr John Wallis, and the courageous women who said "yes".
"I wondered what was going through the mind of the young John Wallis, the Diocesan priest, who was still young in his 30s when the order commenced in 1944. It was his dream and vision, through a woman on Bruny island, Kit Hawkins, who had challenged him in 1933, saying, 'Father, why can’t we have sisters coming here in the bush? That got John thinking and 11 years later we came into being.’"
Sr Stancea said it has been a special gift for the MSS to know their founder and also the pioneering women; to be part of this continuing story of reaching out to people on the margins.
Joy and gratitude mark 75-year anniversary (missionarysisters.org.au)