Celebrating 79 years since our foundation

Scones with jam and cream in basket

On 8th July 2023, our community celebrates our 79th anniversary of the MSS beginnings. We certainly have much for which to be grateful and rejoice in the fact that our mission is still continuing through each one of us and the great work of Highways and Byways – Healing the Land, Healing Ourselves, Together and its team. It’s something that our pioneering women, Teresa, Monica, Kath, Joyce and our founder, Fr John Wallis, could not have imagined on 8th July 1944.


Known as Rosary House Day, we traditionally celebrate the day with scones and cups of tea and coffee, together. So wherever you are, we hope you can enjoy a scone and the company of friends and family in celebration of this wonderful day!
Reflecting on this milestone, congregational leader, Stancea Vichie MSS has shared with us all her words sent to the sisters to mark the 79th anniversary since MSS began.  In sharing these words, she says, ‘You are so entwined in this story, for this we are full of gratitude, so let us keep walking together.’


Dear Sisters,

We wonder what was running through the minds and hearts of Gwen, Alice, Kathleen, Joyce, and John, this time 79 years ago!  Apprehension, excitement, passion, fear, trust, perhaps all or some of these and much more.  Here we are 79 years later perhaps experiencing similar feelings but at such an entirely different moment in the story of the Universe.


We really are part of that bigger story and what the scientists call the universal law of attraction.  In the early times of the Universe coming into being, if the elementary particles had not been attracted to one another to construct the light atoms, and if the atoms had not been attracted to one another to construct the galaxies and stars, and if the minerals of the rocky planets had not been attracted to one another to construct living cells, we would not exist.  That’s a summary version!  In effect, the Universe has given birth to we Missionary Sisters of Service and continues to birth us.  This is a multi-millenia story of which we are part, not just a mere 79 years!  We find ourselves deeply inside the realm of mystery and Divine gift.  For this, we give thanks.


John often quoted the parable in Matthew 7:24-26, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible person who built a house on rock.  Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew (sounds like the impacts of climate change!) and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock”.  I believe we can say that at our 79 year mark, our house is built on rock. It may be a little shaky at times but the foundations are so strong that the house has continued to stand through all the “storms, floods and gales” of the years.


Here in Melbourne, we are celebrating by going to the Stonehouse which is in lovely bushland at Warrandyte by the Yarra River.  I will be thinking of each of you, give thanks for each of you, and hope that you will be celebrating in some way.




To mark Rosary House Day, three of our sisters, Corrie van den Bosch MSS, Frances McShane and Lorraine Groves MSS (the latter two live in Hobart, Tasmania) set off on a wonderful pilgrimage, revisiting many of the nearby places of significance to our community of women (see photos and captions). Frances reflected, ‘We thoroughly enjoyed our trip down memory lane, dallying here and there along the way. …The photos and captions show where we had lived. Some of the buildings bear no resemblance to how they looked when we lived there, but the essence is there.’ Thanks, Corrie, Frances and Lorraine for sharing your photos (below), and thanks, Corrie, for the detailed captions.