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Launch of Dear Mother Dear Father in Yea, Victoria

Yea held a special place in the heart of the young visionary and pastoral priest, John Corcoran Wallis, who was born at the old Yea hospital and baptised in the Yea Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 1910. He grew up in Homewood, 10 kilometres from Yea and attended the local Homewood State school and later Sacred Heart School, the year it opened in 1923.

The local Library at Yea was the location for a special book launch of Dear Mother, Dear Father: Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927 – 1949 by Bernadette Wallis MSS on Tuesday 11th February, with more than 30 guests attending to commemorate the young man who founded the Missionary Sisters of Service in Tasmania in 1944. He became an influential and inspiring priest, who touched the hearts of many people along the way.

John left home at 16 to enter the seminary and was ordained in Kilmore for the Hobart Diocese, Tasmania, at age 22.  His parents were Emma Corcoran and Abraham Wallis; Emma’s family having long roots in the local area. Her grandparents were Irish pioneers Thomas and Eliza McAsey who settled in the district in 1857, Thomas being the first lamplighter in Yea.

Having just turned 23, John was sent “on mission” to Bruny Island, a remote island off the south east coast of Tasmania, to visit isolated Catholic families. He travelled by ferry, bicycle, on a horse and by foot, often through thick bush and rugged terrain. While there, he met a mother with four small children, Mrs Kit Hawkins, who asked the fledgling priest, “Father, why can’t we have sisters to teach our children? Doesn’t anyone care about us people in the bush?” It was eleven years later that he founded the Missionary Sisters of Service, an Australian congregation of Catholic women.

Today there are 26 Missionary Sisters of Service still living in Australia – mainly in Melbourne, Toowoomba and Hobart. They celebrated their 75-year anniversary throughout 2019. As part of these celebrations, Bernadette Wallis MSS, the niece of Fr John Wallis had her book published by Coventry Press to commemorate the legacy of her uncle.

Dear Mother, Dear Father: Letters Home from John Corcoran Wallis 1927 – 1949 features 100 letters written by John Wallis during his seminary years, priesthood and in the founding of the Missionary Sisters of Service. The letters provide a unique snapshot into the man and the era, with each chapter also including a special commentary by eminent Australians.

When commenting on the book to Bernadette, Brenda Niall, Australian Biographer, Literary Critic and Journalist, said, “I congratulate you on bringing this engaging and humble man to life. Your book is a wonderful time capsule. I am sure that there are few, if any collections like this that have survived to give understanding of the times and the individuals who worked within them.”

Bernadette Wallis said: “John loved the land and the bush, and his rural upbringing influenced his interest in country people and their issues. Also having had three siblings who were profoundly Deaf, John had a special interest in people who lived on the edge of society. Inclusiveness was important to him.”

Bernadette added: “John died in 2001 aged 91. He would be amazed at how the Missionary Sisters of Service have developed their legacy, Highways & Byways – a Community of Service, their mission organisation that aims to strengthen communities, supporting people experiencing hardship and disadvantage especially in rural Australia.”

The book was officially launched by local Yea man and friend of the Wallis family, Mr Frank Hargrave AO, who shared some of his favourite excerpts from various letters in the book. Prof. Gabrielle McMullen AM also provided some commentary at the launch.

Following the book launch, Bernadette took a group of visitors on ‘The John Wallis Heritage Trail’, which allowed them to see significant historical sites related to John Wallis.

These included the site of the old Yea hospital and Sacred Heart Church to view the Baptismal register. They drove along the road where John rode his horse to the Homewood State primary school and visited Switzerland Road to see where John’s mother, Emma Corcoran, grew up, and where the original ancestors settled in Yea. The final destination was a visit to Pioneer Cemetery where Abraham and Emma Wallis are buried, as well as earlier family members.

Further book launches of Dear Mother Dear Father will take place in Melbourne (5 March), Toowoomba (8 March), Brisbane (11 March) and Sydney (19 March). Click here to find out all the details or phone (03) 9873 5520 or email mssadmin@missionarysisters.org.au.

Words and photos by Fiona Basile

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, Sydney, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Yea, in country Victoria, 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.

LAUNCH DATES AND LOCATIONS

Yea Launch: Tuesday 11 February 2020, 10:00am at Yea Library, 15 The Semi Circle, Yea, Victoria. RSVP by 7 Friday February on (03) 9873 5520 or email the Missionary Sisters of Service

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 on (03) 9873 5520 or email the Missionary Sisters of Service. Download Melbourne launch flyer, here.

Toowoomba Launch: Sunday 8 March 2020, 2pm at St Therese’s Church, Cnr Campbell and Curzon Streets, Toowoomba, Queensland. To be launched by Bishop Emeritus Bill Morris DD prior to the John Wallis Memorial Lecture given by Lindy Chamberlain. RSVP by Friday 28 February 2020 on (03) 9873 5520 or email the Missionary Sisters of Service. Download Toowoomba launch flyer, here.

Brisbane Launch: Wednesday 11 March 2020,  7.30pm at Holy Spirit Seminary, 487 Earnshaw Road, Banyo, Queensland. RSVP by Monday 2 March 2020 on (03) 9873 5520 or email the Missionary Sisters of Service. Download Brisbane launch flyer, here.

Sydney Launch: Thursday 19 March, 5.30pm at Catholic Institute of Sydney, 99 Albert Road, Strathfield, New South Wales. RSVP by Monday 16 March 2020.  Download Sydney launch flyer, here.

Enquiries: Call (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

Launch dates for Dear Mother Dear Father

MELBOURNE BOOK LAUNCH OF DEAR MOTHER, DEAR FATHER: LETTERS HOME FROM JOHN CORCORAN WALLIS 1927 – 1949

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.

Women of Faith leading the way at 2019 John Wallis Memorial Lecture

Renowned Australian journalist and commentator Geraldine Doogue explored the unique and enduring leadership and contributions by women of faith over the last 75 years as part of the 2019 John Wallis Memorial Lecture.

More than 100 people gathered at Genazzano FCJ College in Kew on 13 August 2019 for the lecture titled ‘Women of Faith Leading the Way’, which saw Geraldine Doogue lead a conversation with Stancea Vichie MSS, congregational leader of the Missionary Sisters of Service and Zuleyha Keskin from the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation.

Listen to the conversation, here.

Photos by: Fiona Basile.

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!

BOOKINGS:

CLICK HERE TO BOOK THROUGH TRYBOOKING

OR PHONE 03 9873 5520

OR TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR ON THE EVENING.

$20.00 ADULT. $15.00 CONCESSION / STUDENT

ACCESS FLYER HERE