A Passion for Stories
Celebrating her golden jubilee as a Missionary Sister of Service, Carmel reflects on her story:
With gratitude I reflect on 50 memorable years as a Missionary Sister of Service. What a privilege! And how quickly those 50 years have passed! There are many highlights during my 50 years as MSS. I marvel at the power of the Holy Spirit and how the Lord has led me along unexpected pathways in my life’s journey to date.
Over the years, I have been enabled to share in the MSS story through our Correspondence School of Religious Education together with the printing of its associated material, our Co-Missioners Office, secretarial work for our Founder (Father John Wallis), participation in Marriage Tribunal work, and during latter years, a total involvement in archival ministry for our own Congregation and for the Archdiocese of Hobart.
This journey has been uniquely mine, starting with my parents, my sister and my Tasmanian roots. My father worked for the Tasmanian Government Railways. In this work he was moved from place to place. Consequently we lived in several country towns over the years of my childhood. I knew what it was like to be educated in State Schools and to miss out on regular Catholic sacramental life. I was drawn to the congregation of Missionary Sisters of Service because of its focus on families and children living in isolated country areas.
When I joined in 1958, I had no experience of teaching or pastoral work. I did have practical experience of working in office situations over a number of years. I thought that perhaps I could be of some use in the correspondence school. In the fullness of time this came to pass, along with other opportunities to develop and use my God-given gifts.
My current ministry is situated in the Wallis Centre, the home of the in archives of the Archdiocese of Hobart. It is named after Father John Wallis, the priest of this diocese who founded our Congregation. I find the work both fascinating and absorbing. This building contains a veritable treasure trove of stories of the past, of people and events that have shaped our present. I find here, not just dust and cobwebs of the past, but a rich panorama of a loving God ever present, acting in the lives of His people – sustaining, guiding, consoling through the passage of time.
Pope Paul VI in an Address to Church Archivists (September 26, 1963) describes well what I experience in my archives work:
It is Christ who operates in time and who writes His story through our papers which are echoes and traces of this passage of the Church, of the passage of the Lord Jesus, in the world.
As I reflect on the last 50 years, I am thankful for the support, encouragement and wisdom of Father John Wallis, our pioneer sisters, and many others along the way. They have helped and inspired me through the many challenges of daily life, particularly in earlier years. I am grateful too, to all who have been a part of my journey through the years. I now look forward to moving confidently into the future, continuing to be part of, and contributing to, the incredible MSS story as it gently unfolds day by day. And most of all, I hope to continue Mary’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour......"