A Virtual Pilgrimage to TasmaniaPrint
May we all make our journeys and changes so as to render them so many steps towards the right road for the Eternal Kingdom.
Sister Suzette Clark writes: In the words of Sr Laureen Dixon, our Congregational Leader, in her introduction to the Virtual Pilgrimage:
Just 9 years after their arrival in Sydney in1838, the Sisters were faced with the most difficult choice: To remain true to their charism and follow the Ignatian principles prescribed by Mary Aikenhead or conform with the Archbishop’s preference to follow the Benedictine Rule…
Three courageous Sisters – de Sales O’Brien, John Cahill, and Xavier Williams chose to follow their charism and responding to an invitation from the Archbishop of Hobart, sailed to Hobart on the Louisa. They arrived and disembarked on Sunday, 22 June 1847.
So, our own recent journey began in Hobart…
Once again, three Sisters of Charity travelled to Hobart – but this time by plane: Sisters Margaret Guy, Maria Wheeler and Suzette Clark. This time they met up with a Sister already resident in Tasmania, Sr Anne Turner, and our producer/director, Bruce Stephens.
Pilgrimage is an invitation to explore the significance of place and of journey. We were journeying to the sacred spaces of our Sisters’ heritage and history. We hoped to provide an opportunity for participants to be virtually present at these places, to connect with the first three Sisters, to develop an understanding of the history and significance of the journey, and to recognise how the works of these early Sisters grew into our ministries today.
Pilgrimage is a spiritual journey. Our pilgrimage draws its spirituality from the faith and vision of Mary Aikenhead. Mary’s call and response were transplanted, nurtured, and adapted to a new country and culture.
For three days, we followed in the footsteps of the first three pioneer Sisters.
We paused where they landed in a rowing boat at Hobart Wharf. While dockside, we moved to the Footsteps towards Freedom sculptures which honour the convict women who were transported to Hobart and the horrific experience of being separated from their children as soon as they arrived.
We retraced the Sisters’ first land journey from the wharf up to St Joseph’s Church, where the Congregation had waited to celebrate Sunday Mass with them. On this site, was what had been their convent and St Joseph’s School. Across the road was St Joseph’s Orphanage.
During our pilgrimage, we travelled in the luxury of a car to the sacred spaces where Sisters of Charity ministered from 1847 and to which they walked through mud and snow: The Female Factory, the Ragged School, Hobart Town Jail, The Queen’s Asylum, and St Francis Xavier School South Hobart.
We included later places of ministry in our pilgrimage: Colleges at Sandy Bay and Kingston, what had been St Joseph’s Childcare Centre at Taroona and New Norfolk, spending time at St Brigid’s School and the “Asylum for Insane Paupers”.
Because this is a virtual pilgrimage, we were able to include St Vincent’s Private Hospital Launceston and Outreach Devonport.
We also included spirituality, parish, and prison ministries. Nine Sisters who had been in Tasmania were interviewed re their ministries and their reflections included.
We finish our pilgrimage at the graves of some of our Sisters in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery with prayer and a blessing from Archbishop Adrian Doyle.
We must, as steadily as we can, with the divine assistance, go on in the path laid out for us. Amen! Amen!
Please watch the Virtual Pilgrimage to Tasmania