Tasmania’s homegrown religious congregation, the Missionary Sisters of Service, concluded its 75th anniversary celebrations with a walking pilgrimage on Bruny Island. Source: Hobart Archdiocese.
Nine Missionary Sisters of Service and fellow pilgrims gathered on Bruny Island late last year to walk, reflect and share about their own journeys and experiences.
Bruny Island holds a special place in the memory of the sisters, as it was there that in 1933 Mrs Kit Hawkins challenged a young Fr John Wallis about what the Church could do to support the needs of Catholic children.
After years of developing a vision of a community of women able to go to remote areas and meet the needs of those on the margins, Fr Wallis founded the Home Missionary Sisters of Our Lady (commonly known as the Rosary House Sisters) in 1944. The name of the congregation was later changed to Missionary Sisters of Service.
The sisters held a number of celebrations throughout their 75th anniversary year, beginning with a pilgrimage around Tasmania in 2018, which concluded at Bruny Island with the blessing of a memorial to the Missionary Sisters of Service and Fr John Wallis.
The final Bruny Island pilgrimage drew pilgrims from as far as Adelaide, Toowoomba and New Zealand.
Sr Bernadette Wallis said it was an opportunity to look at the spirit of Fr John Wallis, to understand him more deeply, and to understand the charism of the founding group.
Sr Bernadette – who is Fr John Wallis’ niece and recently published Dear Mother Dear Father: Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927-1949 – said that the pilgrims were “blown away” by the distances that Fr Wallis travelled on the island while ministering to people.
“Even one of the sisters was talking about how she was amazed at the distance that John travelled – not by car – on tracks and how he found the different people and so on. The beauty of the place is really amazing,” she said.