Celebrating 80 years of the MSS in 2024

Logo of MSS 80-year anniversary

It is with great joy that we commemorate and celebrate the 80-year anniversary of our foundation in 2024. Though we say this often, it does bear repeating—we have so much to be thankful for, with much of that gratitude extending to so many of you across our ancient land who’ve been part of this journey with us. We have been both formed and transformed by the land and the people we’ve encountered along the way.

Though we officially recognise our foundation story from 8 July 1944, when the first four women came together to form a new community, our origins really stem back to 1933. In that year, a young man (23-years-old), originally from country Victoria was ordained a priest to the Hobart Archdiocese, Fr John Wallis. Not long after his ordination, he was sent on mission to the remote Bruny Island, off the southeast coast of Tasmania, to visit families, many of whom had not seen a priest for many months. While visiting the Hawkins family, mother of four young children, Kit Hawkins asked Fr John: ‘Father, why can’t we have Sisters to teach our children? Doesn’t anyone care about us people in the bush? This question set off a chain reaction of events in the life of Fr John, who set about creating a community of women 11 years later, to do just that.

Map of Australia with stickersThis community of women would set out into the highways and byways of our vast land, visiting people who were often on the margins and forgotten. Over the years, we have worked in every state but Western Australia. And as our mission evolved and diversified, many of us moved to more urban areas. The map to the right shows our footprint of where we’ve lived and worked over this vast land.

Recognising the changing nature and circumstances of our community of women, we established our mission entity, The John Wallis Foundation nearly 14 years ago, which is now 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. Again, who would have thought 80 years ago, we’d be where we are today.

Today, we have 20 sisters living in Australia: one in Mackay, Queensland; five in Toowoomba, Queensland; eleven in Melbourne, Victoria; one in Port Pirie, South Australia; and two in Hobart, Tasmania.

Watch a beautiful slideshow video with narration, which takes us through the story of the MSS, in honour of our 80-year anniversary of foundation. It runs for 6.5 minutes.



Throughout 2024, we are celebrating this momentous milestone in our various locations:


In Melbourne, we officially kick started the anniversary celebrations with the launch of Corrie van den Bosch MSS’s new book, Graced Beyond Telling in mid-February. Corrie hosted another book launch in South Hobart, Tasmania on Saturday 13th April at St Francis Xavier Church Hall in South Hobart.

Most recently, in Melbourne, we celebrated the anniversary on Sunday 7 July at the 10.30am Eucharist at St Thomas the Apostle Parish in Blackburn followed by lunch in the school hall. See below for an array of photos from this special occasion.

In Toowoomba, the anniversary will be celebrated at St Anthony’s Church on Sunday 14th July, at the 2pm Eucharist, followed by afternoon tea. In Hobart, we’ll mark the anniversary at the 11am Eucharist on Friday 12th July at St Francis Xavier’s Church, South Hobart, followed by lunch in the hall. There’ll also be a celebration in Whyalla, South Australia.