Anniversary Mass and Celebration, 7 July

It is with great excitement and joy that we, the Missionary Sisters of Service (MSS), an Australian grown congregation of Religious women impacting the lives of people living on the margins, celebrate our 75-year anniversary this Sunday 7 July at St Thomas the Apostle Parish, Blackburn. Archbishop Peter Comensoli will celebrate the Mass at 10.30am followed by a celebration for all in the parish hall.

We look forward to joining with everyone in celebrating this special occasion on Sunday and at other events and locations scheduled throughout the year! To mark this special year, we’ve prepared this special 7-minute photo slideshow presentation. Enjoy!



Catholic Religious Australia expresses condolences to Sri Lankan communities

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the horrific bombings that took place in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, 21 April. In response to these tragic events, a letter of condolence from our Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) President, Monica Cavanagh rsj, has been sent to the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Ranjith. A similar letter has also been sent to the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, along with messages of condolence being sent to five Sri Lankan communities in different states in Australia. We will continue to lift you all up in prayer.

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.

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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.


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:


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


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…..  

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The panels that tell the story of Father John, the Missionary Sisters of Service and their mission.

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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