Highways and Byways Women
Our Sisters’ Stories
Today there are 21 of us living in Australia – in Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia. Though older and less mobile, we continue to reach out and be with people in their ordinary, everyday lives, no matter who they are and from what background they have come.
Cecilia Bailey MSS Toowoomba, Queensland
Cecilia Bailey was born in Melbourne in 1931 and grew up in Deepdene, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service aged 24, in 1955. In her earlier years, Cecilia worked in the Correspondence school, based in Hobart, Tasmania. In 1964, at the invitation of Bishop Brennan, Cecilia and four sisters came to Toowoomba, Queensland, to undertake ministry in the rural areas of the Diocese. Cecilia was appointed Formation Director in 1969 and later became Congregational Leader. In this role, she visited the sisters in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. She is now semi-retired and enjoying life in Toowoomba.
Pat Brain was born in Hobart in 1941 and grew up in Strahan on Tasmania’s west coast. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1962, aged 21 years old. Having had a teaching background, Pat used her skills to assist children and families to learn more about the Catholic faith. During her mission years, she lived and worked in Tasmania, South Australia, western New South Wales and briefly in Queensland. Her work on the missions entailed training catechists, providing prayer days to women in country areas, as well as visiting families. Pat has always had a heart for volunteering: She taught English to migrants on a voluntary basis in Melbourne for 13 years, she was a volunteer providing assistance to elderly residents living in nursing homes for a couple of years and was a guide at the Melbourne Zoo for 13 years. She also volunteered at a House for women with Aids for 3 years. Pat currently lives in Melbourne and faithfully writes the thank you letters to all who donate to Highways and Byways – A Community of Service.
Mary Cleary MSS Toowoomba, Queensland
Mary Cleary was born in Warrick, 85 km south of Toowoomba, Queensland in 1940, where she grew up. Her local community was ‘very Catholic’, and she was influenced by the National Catholic Girls’ Movement. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1962, aged 22 years. Her primary focus in ministry was in parishes and pastoral support. Very much ‘sitting around the kitchen table one-to-one, talking with people, listening to their stories, just generally being with them’. Her missionary work has taken her to South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland, particularly in the remote and rural parish of Jandowae in Queensland’s south-east. Mary now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Oakleigh East, Victoria
Kath Clune grew up in Sydney and joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1959. She worked in Western New South Wales; Queensland, from Birdsville to the Gulf, where she’d travel with the mailman, station-hopping; Tasmania, especially in hydro villages on the west coast, working in the
Inter Church Trade and Industry Ministry; and in Sydney as pastoral carer, and then as an enrolled nurse in St Vincent’s Hospice and psychiatric hospitals. Kath now lives in Melbourne where she enjoys gardening, U3A, her cat, and volunteering, which includes walking dogs for people with disabilities.
Nancy Doyle MSS Toowoomba, Queensland
Nancy Doyle was born in Temora, in the south-west of New South Wales. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1962, aged 25. She worked in pastoral support in Tasmania, South Australia and various places in Queensland. She was the first Sister to be in charge of a parish in Australia (in Oatlands, Tasmania). Nancy is known for her leadership and pastoral work in Oatlands as well as in northern Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. Nancy now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Forest Hill, Victoria
June Dunford was born in Parkes, New South Wales, and joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1959. She has worked and lived mainly in Tasmania and Melbourne, where she spent many years working in the Correspondence School for religious education, which reached out to families and their children across Australia and beyond. She also worked in MSS administration and finance. For many years, June worked in Eastern Palliative Care in Victoria, accompanying the loved ones of families as they neared the end of their life. June is highly skilled at many craft activities, especially knitting. She lives in Forest Hill, in Melbourne’s east.
Julianne Dunn MSS Hawthorn East, Victoria
Julianne was born in Melbourne and grew up in Cowes on Phillip Island in Victoria. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1957 and was in the first group of MSS who went to work in the vast areas of the Toowoomba Diocese in 1964. She was Archbishop Guildford Young’s secretary in Hobart for 18 years from 1965 during the aftermath of Vatican II. She also lived and worked in Canberra for a number of years at the Australian Catholic Bishops Secretariat, as well as on the north west coast of Tasmania until returning to Melbourne in 2006. She has maintained her life-long commitment to the Essendon Football Club.
Beryl Gleeson MSS Toowoomba, Queensland
Beryl Gleeson was born in Blackall, Queensland. She worked for the government in Brisbane for 8-plus years and spent 4 years overseas working and seeing the sights. Then Beryl joined the Northern Territory Police Force for 3.5 years afterwhich she spent 3 years as a lay missionary on Bathurst Island. In 1969 she joined the Missionary Sisters of Service, aged nearly 35. Since her time of entry to the MSS she has missioned to people throughout all the eastern states and South Australia. For almost 20 years Beryl worked with Indigenous people in northern Queensland, and has assisted refugees and asylum seekers in Toowoomba for the past 15 years to settle in Australia. Beryl is also a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society as Spiritual Advisor to a Conference and interviewing people who are in need. Having always been keen on painting, she now spends some time doing oils, watercolours and acrylic paintings.
Lorraine Groves MSS, Claremont, Tasmania
Lorraine Groves was born in 1942 in Beaconsfield, Tasmania. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1959 aged 17. She has conducted amazing community and parish work in her ministry, particularly within Tasmania, as well as in Queensland and New South Wales. Lorraine has a special gift for crafts and providing a safe and welcoming space for women to gather and creating beautiful things.
Pat Kelly was born in Townsville, Queensland, and joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1962, aged 23. During her years she has worked in parishes and the Correspondence School and where needed conducted Family Clusters, Effectiveness Training, Higher Aged Groups, and a Carers Support Group. Pat now lives in Clayton, Victoria.
Bernadette Madden MSS Nunawading, Victoria
Bernadette Madden was born in Bundaberg, Queensland, and grew up in Calvert, Queensland (near Ipswich). She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1975 and has lived and worked in Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Bernadette has worked with families in need in many states and was particularly involved in the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, working with Anglicare Victoria. She is also involved with the Catholic Walking Club Victoria.
Marcia McMahon MSS Clayton, Victoria
Marcia McMahon joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1963, aged 21. Her early years were spent in Tasmania, followed by Toowoomba, where she spent time visiting sundry parishes in the diocese (between stints in the congregation’s Correspondence School) – she had a special love for working in the Correspondence School. Marcia returned to Tasmania, visiting many parishes along the east coast and north west coast. Her time in the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese was particularly special, visiting outback areas and parishes, and meeting the people in Parkes. In latter years Marcia went to Sydney to Royal North Shore Hospital to participate in some units in Clinical Pastoral Education, which was a great preparation for returning to Melbourne where she joined Inter Church Trade and Industry Chaplaincy, which involved visits to several Industries in Queensland and Melbourne, and which led to some extraordinary challenges and revitalisation of Pastoral Care. In her latter years Marcia is involved with supporting family and others, parish life, and keeping abreast with world and local news.
Forest Hill, Victoria
Betty McManus was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1930, the daughter of Scottish immigrants. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1955, aged 25 years. Given her talent with sewing, Betty spent many hours in her formation time making the clothing for the sisters in her spare time. During her earlier years with the MSS, she worked at a hostel in Launceston, Tasmania for young women from rural areas. She took care of some of the Sisters who were unwell or elderly; she spent some years at the Correspondence School in Toowoomba and Hobart and in the early 1980s moved to Melbourne where she took care of the congregations’ finances for 24 years. Betty now lives in Forest Hill, Victoria with one of the other Sisters.
Frances McShane MSS Claremont, Tasmania
Frances was born in Broadmarsh, Tasmania and is one of nine in the family. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1960. Among many things, Frances worked in an assistant’s role to the Formation Director in Hobart for three years and was responsible for setting up, with Sister Helen Haywood, the South Australian Foundation in Whyalla in 1971. She returned to Hobart in 1975 where she was assigned to manage the Catholic Book Centre for 28 years, During this time she spent 3 years on the then Leadership Team. From the Bookshop she returned to parish work, including 10 years at Beaconsfield, which encompassed the period and following, of the Mine Incident there in 2006. Mission appointments have been in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. Frances retired from parish work to Claremont, Tasmania, in 2014.
Marie Murphy was born in Mackay, Queensland and grew up in nearby Marani. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in Hobart in 1964, aged 22. She has lived and worked in pastoral service in many parishes in Tasmania, Port Pirie Diocese in South Australia, and Toowoomba Diocese in Queensland. In the latter years, Marie worked in hospital chaplaincy in Sydney and at the Mater Hospital in Mackay, Queensland. Marie still lives in Mackay and enjoys visiting her large extended family.
Pat Quinn MSS Toowoomba, Queensland
Pat Quinn was born in Melbourne in 1939. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1956, aged 17-years. The first half of her MSS life was spent in parish mission work in isolated areas of Tasmania and south west Queensland. She was given the opportunity to study overseas, and upon her return established The Portiuncula spiritual centre in Toowoomba, which provided counselling, spiritual direction and courses. Pat ran the centre for 27 years, and it was open to all. Pat lives in Toowoomba, Queensland, and is particularly known for her role in organizing a special pilgrimage to Tasmania as part of the MSS 75-year anniversary celebrations.
Cheryle Thomson MSS Whyalla, South Australia
Cheryle Thomson was born in Port Pirie, South Australia. She was educated there and worked as a nurse at the Pirie Hospital for five years before moving to Hobart, Tasmania, to join the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1974. She has lived in Toowoomba, Parkes, Whyalla and Tasmania as part of her missionary work. Whyalla, South Australia, has been her home for the last 32 years. For 12 of those years she travelled the Eyre Peninsula and visited the vast areas of the Coober Pedy parish. For the past 21 years, Cheryle has been a Pastoral Associate in the Whyalla Parish. Over her many years as an MSS she has had the privilege to come into the lives of many people and has shared in their ups and downs of life. She has many wonderful memories of the places and people visited, for which she is very grateful.
Blackburn South, Victoria
Corrie van den Bosch was born in 1939 in the Netherlands, and migrated to Australia with her family in 1951. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1959 and has lived and worked in all of Australia’s eastern States and South Australia, developing skills in pastoral work, leadership formation, spiritual development and building interfaith relationships. She also designed and wrote courses for the MSS correspondence school in religious education, edited Highways and Byways, the MSS newsletter, wrote stories and articles for the MSS website and various publications. Corrie is a keen gardener and bushwalker and currently lives in Blackburn, Victoria.
Forest Hill, Victoria
Stancea Vichie was born in Brisbane in 1947 and grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1968. Stancea has worked in pastoral support, leadership, and justice and peace in many settings in urban, rural and outback areas of Australia. Some of this work has taken her for short periods to various countries such as Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, and Peru. Stancea is a member of ACRATH which works towards the elimination of human trafficking. She has also worked with refugees and asylum seekers in the community as well as in detention. She feels a strong connection to this land, acknowledges the continuing story of its First Peoples, and stands with them and people of goodwill in the journey towards justice and truth-telling. She lives in Melbourne and loves to walk in the solitude of the bush, read, listen to and play various musical instruments, and have lots of laughs to nurture her in life.
Bernadette Wallis MSS Melbourne, Victoria
Bernadette Wallis was born in Melbourne, Victoria, and grew up in Berrigan in the Riverina in Southern NSW. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1965 and worked in Tasmania and western NSW. She also worked in the Deaf Community in Victoria, self-publishing her book The Silent Book – A Deaf Family and the Disappearing Australian-Irish Sign Language. For many years, she was involved in leadership roles of the congregation and produced the book Dear Mother Dear Father: Letters Home From John Corcoran Wallis 1927 – 1949. Bernadette enjoys her vegetable patch, cooking, bush-walking, writing poetry and watching the tennis.
Margaret Windsham was born in Townsville, Queensland and joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1955. In the 50s and 60s, her main focus was providing pastoral support to Catholic families and parishes, however, this later broadened to provide care and support for whoever was in need. She has lived and worked in Tasmania; the regions beyond Whyalla, South Australia; in those beyond Parkes, NSW; and in the Gulf country from Richmond, in North Queensland. In latter years Margaret reached out to the wider church from the Caboolture parish in Queensland. Margaret now lives in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Remembering the Sisters
18 November 1960
Anne (Mavis) Murphy, born in Launceston in 1923, joined the Congregation in 1945. We remember Anne as a joyful, pioneer missioner, a gentle, welcoming woman, who endeared herself to the people and priests, particularly of the Wilcannia Forbes diocese, many of whom treasured the letters she wrote them after she returned to Hobart because of the cancer that claimed her life. She faced her death with the same courage and humour that had characterised her life.
20 January 1970
Lynette Ehler, born in Brisbane in 1946, joined the Congregation in 1968. We remember Lynette particularly because she died so young that many of us didn’t get to know her. Yet from those who knew her, we remember her as a lovely young woman, generous, gentle and kind with a deep faith commitment. She combined seriousness with humour and a sense of fun, treating everyone with real dignity and respect and with a beautiful smile.
12 October 1973
Monica (Alice) Carroll, born 1889 in Hobart, was a founding member of the Congregation, 1944 at the age of 55. During World War II, Monica, prior to her joining the MSS, had held responsible positions in the Telephone Exchange. In the early years she held a leadership role in the community. We remember her as a courageous woman of faith, strong, disciplined, orderly, generous and kind. She loved her cup of very hot tea and had a witty sense of humour and playfulness.
21 February 1987
Vianney (Kathleen) Moore, born 1910 in Hobart, was a founding member of the Congregation. We remember her as a beautiful, humble and gentle woman with a great missionary heart, a deep love for people and particularly for priests. A warm-hearted and compassionate listener, she endured much suffering with patience and great faith.
29 October 1989
Teresa (Gwen) Morse, born in 1906 in Devonport, was a woman with a deep contemplative visionary spirit, and eminent practicality. She may well be regarded as the co-foundress of our congregation. The first to offer herself for Father John’s vision, she was able to give it a distinctive feminine expression. She was the first elected member to be the Congregational leader in 1956. We remember her as a generous, wise, inspirational woman of grace and dignity, with an ability to draw out the best in people.
15 December 1989
Helen Haywood, born in Portland NSW in 1933, joined the Congregation in 1959. We remember Helen as a wise and big-hearted woman, with an extraordinary sense of mission, always guided by her great faith and trust in God. She was loving, generous, gentle and thoughtful, with a delightful sense of humour and fun. Her innate goodness touched us and the people among whom she lived and worked.
12 August 1994
Venard (Valery) Casey, born in Castle Forbes Bay, Tasmania in 1904, joined the founding group in November 1944. We remember her as a quiet, gentle woman, with a sense of wonder at the beauty of nature and of people. Humble and wise, she took in what went on around her, discerning the heart of a matter, yet she often didn’t speak until she was asked. She was an artist of life, creative and inventive, a woman without guile.
13 February 1996
Winifred Sharpe, born in Scotland in 1920, migrated to Australia with her family and joined the congregation from Perth WA in 1950. We remember Win as a warm-hearted woman, her arms wide open in hospitality. A humble woman, her many talents remained largely hidden. In her poetry she expressed her inner beauty and contemplative soul. She had a meticulous eye for detail in all she did, was kind, compassionate, cheerful and loving.
27 April 2008
Margaret Rogers, born in Bundaberg in 1923, joined the Congregation in 1953. We remember Margaret as a generous, caring woman of prayer and mission. She had a gift for friendship and was much loved by people among whom she lived and worked. Always hospitable, seeing good in people, insightful and wise, her inner beauty shone through her eyes. Her years as novice mistress demanded much of her, but she fulfilled that role wholeheartedly and with great love.
26 March 2009
Alice Fox, born in Keilor, Victoria, in 1926, entered the Congregation in 1951. We remember Alice as a woman with a wise and caring heart, with a great love for the people among whom she was missioned. Her pastoral heart was always ready to reach out to young and old, either in person or by letter. Generous, humble, kind and concerned are among the qualities we remember in her.
29 May 2009
Delphine O’Shea, born in Brisbane in 1930, joined the Congregation in 1955. We remember Delphine as a very alive person, inspiring, visionary, with a strong sense of justice. She was a deeply spiritual woman, with good leadership qualities who guided the congregation through years of growth and change in the post Vatican II years. She demanded the best of herself and encouraged the best in us. She had a sense of fun and humour, and was a great story-teller, especially about encounters and experiences which had an element of the ridiculous in them.
9 May 2010
Monica Franklin, born in Melbourne in 1915, joined the Congregation in 1945. We remember Monica as a woman with a big heart for people and love of her mission among them. She was generous, kind, compassionate and loving, always ready to travel the extra miles (no matter how many) to that “one more isolated family”. Humble and generous, in quiet fidelity and prayerfulness, she followed up people’s connections in other places wherever she could. She had a special love for Aboriginal people.
15 May 2010
Edith Moore, born in Melbourne in 1916, joined the Congregation in 1946. We remember Edith as a woman who knew her mind, strong and determined, generous and with a keen sense of humour. Edith had many talents and interests, read widely and had a way with words. She loved the arts, was a good singer and loved getting people to sing. She had a grateful heart, and loved her Collingwood football team.
25 August 2011
Agnes Ryan, born in Perth Western Australia in 1915, joined the founding group in December 1944. She lived and worked in Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and finally in Victoria. With an education background, Agnes excelled in her work of forming a faith educated laity, especially for catechists and in the area of spirituality. We remember her as a woman of faith with a deep sense of mission, an educator par excellence, a pioneering spirit, always ready to push the boundaries of convention. Her fully active life was nourished by a deep contemplative spirit, purified in periods of great inner darkness, and blossoming into love. Her greatest joy was to lead others to experience the same spiritual riches.
2 July 2012
Mary O’Connor, born in Rockhampton, Queensland, in 1919, entered the Congregation in 1962. We remember Mary’s gift for teaching, which shaped her mission as an MSS. She was a searcher of the mind, driven by her thirst for knowledge and understanding, particularly of the Scriptures. She developed a strong spirituality, nourished in reading, study and prayer. Her greatest passion was to share the riches of her wisdom and understanding. Her sense of wonder and humour brought a light touch to her life.
7 October 2012
Barbara Ann Hateley was born in Mt Gambier, South Australia. She entered the congregation firstly in 1968 and again in 1977. After a short period at Parkes in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese, NSW, Barbara moved to Hobart, Tasmania. For the next 35 years she served the people of the Island in many capacities, and always with a special concern for those ‘on the margins.’ Barbara died 7 October 2012. We remember Barbara as someone who never gave up, coming back after health concerns had her leave during her initial formation. The same determination characterised her life and mission, persisting quietly in the face of difficulties. She was a woman of prayer, integrity and vision, loyal, generous and caring. She had a gift of friendship appreciated by many within and beyond the Congregation.
29 May 2014
Joan Shannon, born in Brisbane in 1920, joined the Congregation in 1953. We remember Joan above all as a woman who exuded joy. With a sense of mission, a song in her heart and often on her lips, she was passionate about people, outgoing and energetic and with a special love of the outback and its people. With a mission as big as her heart, the highways and byways became skyways for her when, with Fr Terry Loth, she flew from Longreach to the most far-flung station families. Memories of Joan bring smiles to our faces.
30 April 2015
Maria Kavanagh, born in New Zealand in 1928, joined the Congregation in 1955. We remember Maria as a woman of creative vision with a beautiful gift for expressing her insights poetically. She risked moving beyond boundaries of various kinds, always with an eye for those most vulnerable. Maria had a contemplative mind, attuned to beauty, nature and to people. She had a gift for seeing deeply into people and situations, and respond with love and compassion.
19 June 2015
Genevieve (Yue Soh) Ng was born 1937 in Singapore of Chinese heritage and joined the Congregation in 1958. We remember Genevieve as a larger-than-life woman, courageous, dynamic, colourful, generous, cheerful and kind, creative, and playful. Her love of the Lord, of the MSS mission, and of people impelled her to the beyond, to people most in need. She loved to entertain with food and stories, while her sufferings remained largely hidden.
7 March 2017
Imelda McMahon, born in Kurrajong NSW in 1925, joined the Congregation in 1950. We remember Imelda as a larger-than-life woman, with a big vision and the energy to make it a reality. Often seeing beyond what was, to what might be, she put her many gifts and talents to serving her pioneering spirit. Deeply spiritual, well-read, a good businesswoman, artistic, passionate, and a sense of mission, all contributed to a life well lived. Often misunderstood, her suffering gentled her over the years, touching many.
17 March 2017
Paul (Verna) Coad, born 1922 in Lymington, Tasmania, joined the Congregation in 1946. Paul was a deeply contemplative woman with a love of the Scriptures and of the people among whom she lived and worked. We remember Paul’s great simplicity of life, and her readiness to go to the most isolated places. She was insightful and witty, kind and hospitable, artistic with a camera and a paintbrush. Her strong sense of faith was a hallmark throughout her long life.
4 January 2018
Doreen Jones, born in Kyneton, Victoria in 1935, joined the Congregation in 1962. We remember Doreen as a very creative person, an educator who held life with a light touch. Faithful to prayer and mission, she was thoughtful, kind, generous and welcoming. Full of fun, delight and wonder, she had a great love of God and of people, particularly the poor and lonely. She was a gifted writer with a touch of poetry. Gracious and prayerful, she was always open to whatever the moment offered.
3 January 2021
Margaret Kenny was born in East St Kilda, Victoria, in 1932. She made her first profession with the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1959. She has worked mostly in rural South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria. She spent many years with the correspondence school and played an important role in ‘The Book Shelf’ in Whyalla, South Australia. She was also part of the Catholic book shop in Hobart, Tasmania.
16 July 2021
Carmel Hall was born in Latrobe, Tasmania in 1931. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service aged 27 years, in 1958. Carmel worked in the Correspondence school for religious education, and in the Missionary Sisters of Service administration in Tasmania. She also worked in the Archdiocese of Hobart Marriage Tribunal office. Significantly, she was the MSS Archivist for more than more than 50 years, as well as being the Archivist for the Archdiocese of Hobart for 28 years.
15 October 2021
Maureen Hickling was born in Stanthorpe, Queensland; her Family lived on a fruit orchard at Wyberba. She went to a little one-teacher school with 15 other children and then went on to secondary school in Toowoomba. After three years as a Lay Missionary in Madang, Papua New Guinea, she joined the Missionary Sisters of Service, aged 21. She had lived and worked in Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and Mackay, Royal Brisbane Hospital, and Bribie Island in Queensland. Maureen lived on Bribie Island for many years and was interested in supporting the local community and care of the environment. She had been part of groups that monitor the local turtle population, the sea grass for the Dugongs and a cane toad project. Photography had been her hobby – from sunrise to sunset and the local wildlife, birds and wildflowers, her inspiration.
24 June 2022
Therese Healy was born in Stawell, Victoria, in 1933. She joined the Missionary Sisters of Service in 1955 aged 22 years. She has worked in South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland where she travelled extensively to various parishes and properties in isolated parts of Australia. Her work in Richmond, in Northern Queensland was particularly enriching. At this time, she was the first of the MSS sisters to have a 4WD and a two-way radio! Since being in Melbourne, Victoria, she has had more wonderful contact with her extended family. Therese was a good cook, especially making sponges.