2020 book launches for Dear Mother, Dear Father

We are excited to announce that Dear Mother, Dear Father: Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927 – 1949, by Bernadette Wallis MSS, will be launched in Melbourne, Brisbane and Toowoomba in 2020.

The 100 letters written by John Wallis during his seminary years, priesthood and in the founding of the Missionary Sisters of Service provide a unique snapshot into the man and the era. Each chapter also includes commentary by an eminent Australian.

Melbourne Launch: Thursday 5 March 2020, 5:30pm at Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne, Victoria. To be launched by Professor Gabrielle McMullen with response from author Bernadette Wallis MSS. RSVP by Thursday 27 February 2020. Download Melbourne launch flyer, here.

Toowoomba Launch: Sunday 8 March 2020, 2pm at St Therese’s Church, Cnr Campbell and Curzon Streets, Toowoomba, Queensland. RSVP by Friday 28 February 2020.

Brisbane Launch: Wednesday 11 March 2020,  7.30pm at Holy Spirit Seminary, 487 Earnshaw Road, Banyo, Queensland. RSVP by Monday 2 March 2020. Download flyer, here.

RSVP by calling (03) 9873 5520 or 0411 058 046, or email mssadmin@missionarysisters.org.au

Download an order form to purchase the book here.

We support Global Action For Climate Change!

Our earth is crying out! Today students from around the world are calling on us to join them on the streets to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.

Millions of adults will walk out of their workplaces and homes to support solutions to the most important crisis facing our world.
We are proud to walk with young people striving to live in a healthy, stable climate.

Photo courtesy of Niki Na Meadhra

Dear Mother Dear Father

Dear Mother Dear Father

Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927-1949

Edited and compiled by Bernadette T Wallis

We are excited that this new book, published by Coventry Press, is now available (see Melbourne launch photos below).   In it, ‘Bernadette Wallis has provided the contemporary reader with a lovingly familiar insight into the development and vision of one of Australia’s great pioneer priests…’ (Fr Frank Brennan SJ).
Born in Victoria, Fr John Wallis (1910-2001), Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Hobart, founded the  Australian Religious Order, the Missionary Sisters of Service, in Tasmania, in 1944. The Sisters were to be available to go into the highways and byways; and flexible to meet the pastoral needs of isolated communities throughout Australia.

This series of letters to John’s parents and family gives us a rare and precious insight into his life as a seminarian and young priest. They also reflect the growing development of his piety and spirituality, the seeds that would develop into his deep concern for people, especially the poor and the  marginalised in rural and outback areas of Australia, and for ways to meet their pastoral and social needs.

The letters have been arranged in ten chapters, with a general introduction about that period in John’s life. Each letter itself has a commentary that contextualises the letter, providing biographical and other details that make the entire series come to life, tracing his experiences, development, misgivings and plans. They anticipate his enthusiasm for the changes that followed the Second Vatican Council and played such a part in his priestly ministry.

The series of letters in each chapter close with insightful reflections from eminent Australians who consider John’s character and spiritual growth as well as applying his insights into contemporary Church life in Australia.

Bernadette Therese Wallis MSS, was born in Melbourne. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1965 and worked pastorally in rural and outback parish settings of Tasmania and New South Wales before commencing ministry with the Catholic Deaf organisation in Victoria.

Dear Mother Dear Father is available from the Missionary Sisters of Service, Coventry Press, Garratt Publishing and other bookshops. Download the order form here for Dear Mother Dear Father.


Bernadette is the author of The Silent Book:  A Deaf Family and the Disappearing Australian-Irish Sign Language, the engrossing story, both deeply personal and historical, of the disappearing Australian-Irish sign language told through the experience of Bernadette’s own Deaf family. The story is embedded in the Australian landscape and its Aboriginal past. In writing this multi-layered story, Bernadette invites the reader into the vibrantly alert and alive silent world of her Deaf parents.  Click here for The Silent Book order form.

Women of Faith Leading the Way – with Geraldine Doogue

 We are delighted to announce:

The 2019 John Wallis Memorial Lecture in Melbourne

Date: Tuesday 13th August 2019

Venue: The Madeleine Centre, Genazzano FCJ College,

301 Cotham Road Kew

Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 12.07.21 pm

2019 marks the 75th year of the Missionary Sisters of Service. Renowned Australian journalist and broadcaster Geraldine Doogue, in conversation with Stancea Vichie, Congregational Leader of the Missionary Sisters of Service, and Zuleyha Keskin, Centre of Islamic Studies and Civilization, will explore the unique and enduring leadership and contribution by women of faith over the last 75 years – and where to from here?

We’d love to see you there!



OR PHONE 03 9873 5520






Commemorative Cookbook

In 2019 we celebrate our 75-year anniversary! To mark this special year, we have a number of events throughout the year. We have also released a special commemorative cookbook that contains photos and stories of the MSS over 75 years, plus more than 30 recipes.

MSS Cookbook_Cover

Food for the Highways and Byways is our brand new commemorative cookbook that celebrates 75 years of the Missionary Sisters of Service.

It’s full of recipes – 35 in total – that range from soups and starters, to main dishes and desserts. However, it’s more than a cookbook! It contains an array of photographs showcasing our work over 75 years. There is a page dedicated to prayers, which can be shared around the dinner table, a map of Australia that marks out where we’ve lived and worked. We share with you our milestones, we remember our Sisters who’ve died, and take you through the evolving nature of our mission in Australia and beyond. Each of the recipes, which have been provided by the Sisters and friends of the congregation, have an accompanying story as well! This really is a collector’s item, and would be an ideal gift for anyone you hold dear to your heart.

The Launch of Food for the Highways and Byways was a wonderful celebration of friendship and food.   Our  hosts, Edwina and Brendan Ricci, welcomed more than 80 guests to their property set high in the hills of Toolangi.   Brendan had built a huge campfire to warm us on the chilly day and Edwina made lots of pizzas baked in the spot in their woodfired pizza oven.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The book was launched by Marcus Godinho, CEO of Fair Share, an organisation that annually provides two million freshly cooked meals to homeless people in Melbourne and Brisbane, and also sent truckloads of meals to the Townsville area during their flood disaster earlier this year.   He was an appropriate choice for launching the Cookbook and made new Fare Share fans among his audience.


Continue reading Commemorative Cookbook

Upcoming Events


Throughout 2019 we are celebrating our 75-year anniversary! There are a range of upcoming events in honour of this special milestone.



The Melbourne book launch will take place on Wednesday 2 October, 6pm for 6.30pm start at Yarra Theological Union Study Centre, 99 Albion Street, Box Hill (enter from Bedford Street)

Dear Mother Dear Father Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927 – 1949 by Bernadette Wallis MSS contains a series of letters written by Fr John Wallis to his parents and family, which give us a rare and precious insight into his life as a seminarian and young priest. They also reflect a growing development of his piety and spirituality. The letters have been arranged into 10 chapters, with each chapter featuring a reflection written by an eminent Australian who considers John’s character and spiritual growth as well as applying his insights into contemporary Church life in Australia.

RSVP to mssadmin@missionarysisters.org.au

Download the Melbourne Launch flyer, here.

Download the Launceston Launch (17 November) flyer, here.

Download the Hobart Launch (19 November) flyer, here.

Dear Mother Dear Father is available from the Missionary Sisters of Service, Coventry Press, Garratt Publishing and other bookshops. Download the order form here for Dear Mother Dear Father.

Read more about the book, and author, here.


YarcktoYea2019We’d love you to join us for our annual Yarck to Yea – Walk, Ride or Run on Saturday 12 October, on the Great Victorian Rail Trail. All proceeds go to our mission entity Highways and Byways – A Community of Service, helping rural and remote communities to thrive!

Cost: Adults, $30; Student/ Concession, $12; Family, $50 (and there are package deals available with our cosy H&H socks!!!)

This is a beautiful day where gather in community to walk, run, ride, talk and laugh, AND it finishes at the Old Yea Railway Station where everyone is invited to enjoy the country hospitality of the Yea Catholic community with a BBQ.

Download flyer, here: bit.ly/2lEwmVm


MSS Chapter /Assembly: Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 October, Holy Cross Templestowe.

MSS Consultations, Hobart: Saturday 14 September.

John Wallis Memorial Lecture and Cookbook Launch, Hobart: Thursday 12 September, Guilford Young College, 94 Barrack St, Hobart, Tasmania, at 7pm.

MSS Consultations, Melbourne: Thursday 22 August.

John Wallis Memorial Lecture and Cookbook Launch, Melbourne: Tuesday 13 August, Genazzano FCJ College, 301 Cotham Road, Kew, 7pm, featuring renowned journalist and broadcaster, Geraldine Doogue.

MSS Graveside Celebrations: Monday 5 August, Drayton Toowoomba Cemetery; Saturday 26 October, Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne; Monday 25 November, Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart.

MSS 75-Year Anniversary Mass, Toowoomba: Sunday 4 August, St Anthony’s Church, 3 Memory St, Harristown, 2pm. Celebrant: Bishop Bill Morris. Afternoon tea will follow in the community centre.

MSS Consultations, Toowoomba: Thursday 1 August.

MSS Rosary House Day: Monday 8 July, with celebrations taking place locally, with scones!

MSS 75-Year Anniversary Celebrations, Melbourne: All are warmly invited to join in our 75-year anniversary celebrations on Sunday 7 July at the 10.30am Mass (with Archbishop Peter A Comensoli presiding) at St Thomas the Apostle Church, 57 Central Road, Blackburn, Victoria. Refreshments will be served afterwards in the parish hall.  For catering purposes, PLEASE RSVP by 28 June 2019. Call (03) 9873 5520 or email mssadmin@missionarysisters.org.au


If you have any enquiries about any of these events, please email mssadmin@missionarysisters or call (03) 9837 5520.

Celebrating our Past – Energising our Present – Open to the Future

July 2018 marked the beginning of the 75th year since the beginning of the Missionary Sisters of Service (MSS).   The celebrations began in November with a pilgrimage to Bruny Island where it all began. A busload of pilgrims, thirteen Sisters and fifteen friends and associates, gathered in Launceston where the founding members of the community first came together in July 1944.  Their house, loaned to them by St Vincent’s Hospital, has gone.   In its place are extensions to the Hospital.


Pioneering Women
Our pioneering women at their Frederick Street home in 1944


While the original house has long gone, the oak trees along the street front still harbour that early history.   The Pilgrims gathered under its branches for a photo.


The group was welcomed to Calvary St Vincent’s by Ed van Galen, Director of Mission.  After celebrating a ritual in the chapel, we were treated to a delicious morning tea and met a number of other staff members.


Ed van Galen with pilgrims Bernadette Wallis mss and Stancea Vichie mss.

The pilgrims then journeyed to Scottsdale and Derby, the first parish visited by our early sisters.   The parish priest, Fr Edwin, celebrated Mass, which was followed by a lunch of hot soup and finger food, all lovingly prepared by the small parish community.  Much meeting and greeting and renewing of old friendships accompanied the meal.


Over the following days the pilgrim bus worked its way south, via Longford, Oatlands, Richmond and Hobart.   In each place Pilgrims were welcomed by people among whom the sisters had lived and worked.   After a brief ritual in the parish church, they were treated to a home-cooked lunch or a cuppa, according to the time of day.   It was heart-warming to experience the love people retain for the Sisters they had known over the years.  Each place evoked treasured memories and stories of the years the Sisters worked there.

Pat Quinn mss thanking the people of Longford for their warm welcome.
At Oatlands, Nancy Doyle mss read a moving tribute to her, written by Vera Fisher when she left that parish in 1989 after five years as Parish Leader.   When appointed in 1984, Nancy became the first woman Parish Leader in Australia.
Fr Graeme Howard
At Richmond, Fr Graeme Howard, a long-time friend of Fr John Wallis, shared some of his memories of him with the pilgrims.

On Sunday 25th November the pilgrims journeyed to Alonnah, Bruny Island, joined by another busload and many others who came in their own vehicles.   After a meet and greet opportunity, they were treated to lunch, prepared by the local CWA.

The 75th anniversary celebration cake was cut by two nieces of founding members of the Missionary Sisters of Service: Josephine Dare, niece of Teresa Morse and Elizabeth Jordan, great niece of Monica Carroll; the third person is Stancea Vichie mss leader.

The climax of the pilgrimage came when everyone gathered outside St Brendan’s church for the blessing and dedication of a memorial to Father John Wallis, the Founder of the Missionary Sisters of Service, the women who came together in 1944 to begin what became the MSS  community, and those who followed them into the highways and byway of Australia and beyond, seeking out people on the margins, whether geographically, socially, economically, culturally or because of their faith, sharing their lives in love, friendship, support and hope.     

Emeritus Archbishop of Hobart, Adrian Doyle, blessed the memorial

The memorial situated in the grounds of St Brendan’s church, comprises two interpretative panels (pictured below) telling the story of the beginnings and development of the Missionary Sisters of Service.   Between them is a sandstone feature with a silhouette of Father John on his bicycle visiting people on Bruny Island, as he first did in 1933.  On one of those visits – to the Hawkins family – the mother, Kit, challenged Father John with a question that started it all:  Why can’t we have Sisters to help us…..  

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 8.13.42 PM
The panels that tell the story of Father John, the Missionary Sisters of Service and their mission.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 8.14.29 PM

Angela and Dennis Derrick. While many people were involved in the design and content of the memorial, Dennis undertook its creation and installation. The centre-piece depicts Father John on his bike – his mode of transport on his early visits to Bruny Island.
MSS Sisters Betty McManus, Bernadette Madden, Lorraine Groves, Bernadette Wallis and Stancea Vichie around the centre piece of the Bruny Island Memorial.

Continue reading Celebrating our Past – Energising our Present – Open to the Future