Barbara Hateley was born in Mt Gambier S.A., where she grew up with her parents, Arthur and Emily Hateley, and her two brothers, Dennis and Donald. In 1977 Barbara joined the Missionary Sisters of Service, bringing with her a deep spirituality and a wealth of experience from her years in pastoral work and religious education in her home parish of Mount Gambier.
After a short period at Parkes in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese, NSW, Barbara moved to Hobart. She remained in Tasmania to serve on the highways and byways of the Island for the next 35 years.
At her profession as a Missionary Sister of Service, Barb chose as her motto "Come, walk with Me". She saw her calling as the invitation to walk with Christ through walking with people in the ordinary everyday of life.
In 1981, Barbara was appointed to the Catholic Education Office, as a member of the Adult Formation in Faith Team. Over the ensuing years, Barb served on many committees, both national and local. Among them were the National Education Commission, the Tasmanian Council of churches, the Commission on Religious Education in State Schools in Tasmania, the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the State Emergency Response Team, the Scripture Union Chaplaincy Committee and the Inter-faith Committee. She was part of the National Council of Christian Doctrine, the National RCIA Association, a representative on the Catholic Religious in Tasmania, the Christmas in the City Committee with St David’s Anglican Cathedral – and many other involvements.
Across nearly thirty two years, Barb has worked untiringly on formation: of catechists, of people in Parish leadership roles, of Parish Pastoral Councils, of baptism preparation teams, collaborative ministry and professional development for teachers, and training of lay leaders for liturgies. She facilitated reflection days, parish assemblies and meetings, and diocesan programmes.
Through her strong commitment to families, particularly to parents as the first educators in faith of their children, she has sought to help parishes integrate young people and families into the life of the Church community. Her commitment has always reached out beyond Hobart and has included travel to the north, south, east and west of Tasmania as well as to the mainland of Australia. She never reneged on her concern for people in rural areas. At times, she supported people who were refugees adjusting to their new context, or people facing difficult hurdles in life. Her work over the years was underpinned with a passion for those who are marginalized or on the edge in society.
Fr John Wallis, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Service, often told the story of himself, when, as a young priest in 1943, he was asked by his Bishop to do some relief work in the parish of Burnie in the north-west of Tasmania. John was fully involved and committed in Hobart and reluctant to go! The Bishop challenged him: “Jack, you are thinking of a Parish; I am thinking of a Diocese!” Barb was a diocesan person, a woman of big vision, always with a pastoral focus that related to people in the ordinary circumstances of their lives and their families. She knew people by name and knew “their joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties.”
Every second Monday for some 20 years Barbara, together with Carmel Hall mss, hosted a community night of dinner, prayer and reflection with two small groups of people who have been Partners in Mission with both Barb and Carmel. Strong bonds of friendship and support developed within these groups.
Throughout Barb’s life, she knew the dark night of the soul. She walked dark valleys and accompanied many people down their dark valleys of misunderstanding, injustice, emptiness, despair, loss of meaning and hope. It was the hope she carried, the flickering flame, and her acute ability to see truth in mirky situations that drove her in her pastoral expression for justice and compassion. Barb’s earthy humility and ‘wicked’ sense of humour was the gift she offered to the world around her, always with great care for the dignity of all.
We all know Barb’s passion for gardening, her place of great creativity. Here she felt alive and at peace. Watched the growth of plants and trees replenished her energies and spirit. It was an interest she shared with many people in everyday conversations.
Early September 2012, Barb was diagnosed with a brain tumour. As word of her illness spread, the deep connections she had with numerous people became visible in an extraordinary way. A steady stream of visitors and a great out-pouring of love, prayer and gratitude came to her from the moment her condition became known. Barbara died 7 October, 2012. Bernadette Wallis, MSS Leader, concluded her words of remembrance with:
Barb, the motto you chose at the time of your profession was the invitation from God: “Come walk with Me”. The Emmaus Story in the Gospel became your own story as you lived in hope and with great love and service in the Church and in the world. Among us you have been a contemplative woman of prayer, a woman of mission. You walked in faith; may you now walk your eternal journey with God, in response to the invitation in the Song of Songs: “Come my Love, my Beautiful One, Come”. In faith and hope, we indeed thank you and bid you farewell.
Barbara is greatly missed by her mss community, her family, her work colleagues and the people among whom she lived and worked. We remember her with heartfelt gratitude and love.
Barbara Hateley Memorial Library
On Monday, October 7, 2013, Friends and colleagues gathered to commemorate one year since the passing of beloved Sr Barbara Hateley MSS with the opening of a community library in her name at the Diocesan Centre, New Town in Hobart and the celebration of Mass held in her honour at the Spirit of God Chapel at the Diocesan Centre on Monday, October 7, 2013.
For many years Barbara served the people of Tasmania and beyond, in pastoral, educational, ecumenical, disaster response and various other roles. She was also known for her concern for people who were struggling, overlooked or excluded - those beyond, a particular focus of the Missionary Sisters of Service.
Naming the library in Barbara's name is particularly apt, given the commitment of Fr John Wallis, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Service, and the sisters themselves to ensuring that good reading material is made available for those who need it most. This commitment has also been expressed throughout their history in the involvement of sisters in religious bookshops in Hobart, Parkes (NSW), Toowoomba (Qld) and Whyalla (S.A.). They took with them mobile bookstalls as they travelled the highways and byways seeking out people beyond.