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Missionary Sisters of Service celebrate their 80th anniversary in Melbourne (Fiona Basile/Melbourne Catholic)

The Missionary Sisters of Service celebrated the 80th anniversary of their foundation this week, with many of the Melbourne-based sisters joining the community of St Thomas the Apostle Parish in Blackburn on July 7 to mark the occasion. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

They were accompanied by family and friends, members of the MSS Stewardship Council, staff and board members of their mission entity, Highways and Byways: Healing the Land, Healing Ourselves, Together, and staff from Emerging Futures Collaborative Limited.

Founded by Fr John Wallis, a priest of the Archdiocese of Hobart, at its peak, the MSS had almost 60 women in the community. They were charged with setting out into the highways and byways of Australia and beyond, visiting people who were often on the margins and forgotten. Over their eight decades, they have worked in every state of Australia but Western Australia, and their mission has evolved and diversified, with many of the sisters moving to more urban areas. A special photo slideshow presented during the Mass on Sunday showed a map of Australia highlighting where the sisters have lived and worked.

Today, there are 20 sisters in Australia: eleven in Melbourne; one in Mackay, Queensland; five in Toowoomba, Queensland; one in Port Pirie, South Australia; and two in Hobart, Tasmania. “At all times, the mission has remained to be with the people in their ordinary, everyday circumstances, no matter who they are and where they come from,” said Congregational Leader Sr Stancea Vichie.

Fourteen years ago, recognising the changing nature and circumstances of their community of women, the MSS established their mission entity, the John Wallis Foundation, which then became known as Highways and Byways: Healing the Land, Healing Ourselves, Together.

“‘We are so excited by the work of our Highways and Byways team, as they carry on our vision and mission of reaching out to those on the margins through their small grants and program partnerships,” Sr Stancea said.

“Though we say this often, it does bear repeating: we have so much to be thankful for, with much of that gratitude extending to those of you here with us today, to so many of you across this ancient land. We’ve all been on this journey together. As our founder, Fr John Wallis, used to always say, ‘Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude’. So, that’s the spirit in which we are here today: Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.”


Missionary Sisters of Service celebrate 80 years of going into the highways and byways (By Fiona Basile, Melbourne Catholic)