A particular need of people in isolated situations tugged at the heart of Fr John Wallis. Others caught his desire to respond to that need, and Missionary Sisters of Service came into being. They chose as their motto: Into the highways and byways. Today their community has grown to comprise three closely related bodies, each of which at its core continues and extends the mission of the Missionary Sisters of Service. Each brings its own particular focus to this mission.
The primary community is the Missionary Sisters of Service itself (MSS). It began in 1944 when a small band of women came together, drawn by the vision and spirit of Fr John Wallis. For the past 75 years they have lived by their motto: Into the Highways and Byways, their mission taking them throughout Australia and beyond, seeking out people wherever they are, with a particular concern for those on the margins, geographically, culturally, spiritually or socially, and to encourage a sustainable way of life for the flourishing of people and the Earth.
The Highways and Byways – a Community of Service is concerned with extending the MSS mission. It is a national organisation, based in Melbourne. It incorporates the John Wallis Foundation and its annual small grants programme, supporting socially and geographically isolated communities. It also initiates some longer term works in rural areas traditionally associated with the Missionary Sisters of Service, partnering with local people or organisations to nurture a programme until it becomes self-sustaining. It has branches across Australia with members including Missionary Sisters of Service and volunteer community members. They are our “eyes and ears” across Australia to the needs and issues of our time. For further information, go to www.highwaysandbyways.org.au.
Thirdly, there is the Highways and Byways Movement, made up of friends and associates who share our vision and spirit in active concern for people isolated from community or family. Over the years numerous people have worked closely with our Sisters in their local areas. Many continued that work after our Sisters moved on.
The Highways and Byways Movement desires to support all who share the mission of walking with people, creating inclusive communities of meaning and belonging wherever they are and in whatever they do.