Fr John Corcoran Wallis (1910-2001)
Rejected for the priesthood many times on the grounds of ill health, Fr John was accepted by the Archdiocese of Hobart and ordained in 1932. A faithful priest of the Archdiocese of Hobart for 69 years, Fr John Wallis is honoured for his vision and initiative in founding the Missionary Sisters of Service.
He is remembered as an ordinary man who responded to the needs of the times; he was humble and generous, with an infectious laugh, a wicked sense of humour, a tremendous zest for life and a deep abiding love of God and God’s people.
One of the biggest events in his life was the Second Vatican Council; he relished the changes and was excited about the priestly people of God. Convinced of the value of education and formation, he was constantly surrounded with books on numerous topics such as church, ministry, prayer, spirituality and the walking tracks of Tasmania.
Born in Yea, a town in the country area of Victoria, Australia, he experienced first hand the impact of being isolated. In responding to a mother’s plea (Kit Hawkins) on Bruny Island not long after he began his priestly ministry in Tasmania, he called together women who were willing to meet the challenge of pastoral work in isolated and rural areas. Originally called the Home Missionary Sisters of Our Lady, they saw the need to be available, flexible and free to respond.
He believed the mission of the sisters should shape the lifestyle of the sisters; the ‘barnacles of the prevailing style of religious life’ were removed. They did not always operate in pairs, there was no curfew, and they lived and worked beyond convents. They drove, rode bikes, lived in caravans and walked, travelling into the highways and byways with hospitality of the mind and heart.
In 1964 he was appointed Diocesan Vicar for Religious and in later years gave retreats to diocesan priests in a number of states of Australia. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Division of the Order of Australia for Services to Religion.
Over the years Fr John offered his concern, guidance and love to all members of the congregation. He shared with the sisters their joys and sorrows, their hopes and disappointments and their successes and failures.
Two months after his 91st birthday Fr John Wallis entered eternal life, on August 3rd 2001.
Profile: Fr John Wallis
Born: June 11, 1910
Parents: Abraham Knight Wallis and Emma Kathleen Corcoran
Brothers & Sisters: Marie, Don, Chester, Brian, Charles
Lived at: ‘Wirrabong’, Homewood, Victoria
Schools: State School, Homewood; Convent School, Yea; Assumption College, Kilmore
Seminary Training: St Columba’s College, Springwood; St Patrick’s College, Manly
Ordained: St Patrick’s Church, Kilmore for Archdiocese of Hobart, December 18th 1932
Congregation Foundation: Archbishop Tweedy approved the community in 1944; Formal approval was given by the Holy See in 1947; Rule was accepted by the Holy See in 1950
Parishes: Westbury and Burnie (relief work); Invermay, Launceston; Sandy Bay, Hobart; Cathedral, Hobart; Glenorchy, Hobart; Warrane/Montague Bay, Hobart; Lindisfarne, Hobart; Lower Sandy Bay/Taroona, Hobart; Chaplain to Calvary Hospital, Hobart
Diocesan Positions: Director of Catholic Action, Diocesan Consultor; Director, Schools Provident Fund; Diocesan Vicar for Religious; Diocesan Senate of Priests
Died: August 3, 2001