They’re back on the ‘Mainland’! After a hectic two weeks in the Apple Isle, Sr Julianne Murphy rsj and her travelling companions, the much loved Mary MacKillop puppet, and ‘Karen’, the trusty GPS, have made their return trip on the Spirit of Tasmania – an experience they all loved!
After driving many thousands of kilometres across Australia in the past 16 months, Julianne admits that, sometimes, when she has crossed a state border, she has experienced a sense of “here we go again”. This time, however, travelling to and from Tasmania was a new and different experience. ‘For a start,’ she quipped, ‘there wasn’t a drive across the border but a boat trip across Bass Strait!’
The Tassie leg of the Roadshow was underway! It started with a 6.30am arrival at Devonport, which was shrouded in fog. With Karen directing them, they soon reached nearby Forth, which was one of the very early Josephite communities, established in 1889. There, they received a very hospitable welcome at MacKillop Hill. Then, during the first week up “North” , the Roadshow covered a lot of kilometres, promoting the Mary MacKillop Foundation in Ulverstone, Devonport, Launceston, Smithton, Mole Creek and Georgetown, all schools or parishes where the Sisters have lived and ministered over the years. Julianne was delighted to report that, ‘In all these places, the legacy of the Sisters of Saint Joseph was alive and well! The children were well versed in their history and proudly spoke of the recent celebrations in Tasmania of the Josephites’ 125 years. This has been a special focus in this year’s Religion curriculum.’ Repeatedly, she says, children asked her: ‘But where’s Fr Woods?’ The Travelling Sister humbly admits that she: ‘learnt more than she presented, whilst becoming daily more and more immersed in the Josephite story of “St Joseph’s Island” ‘!
The Roadshow then headed down "South" – to meet the Sisters gathered at New Town, with visitors from the Mainland, for their Congregational Day on June 23rd. There they received another great welcome! Diane Moore rsj took charge of the Mary MacKillop puppet and introduced her around. Sr Tess Ransom loved her hug!! And she wasn’t the only one!
Schools visited on this Southern leg of the Tasmanian journey included Richmond, Geeveston, New Town, Cygnet and Lenah Valley. Julianne reports that, in all over the two weeks, ‘We visited 11 schools, presented 16 sessions, met 200 children – and slept in 6 different beds"!
The Mary MacKillop Foundation is currently supporting two ‘small life-changing projects in Tasmania, and, Julianne says: ‘It’s always a special time to meet the recipients of the grants, which support "small, life-changing projects", and to hear their stories. Jacinta is an Indigenous woman currently studying a degree in Psychology with the support of a Foundation Tertiary Scholarship. Sajeena is a member of the Multicultural Women’s Council of Tasmania, which, with the assistance of rthe Foundation’s funding, is able to migrant women together once a fortnight for companionship and support.’
Julianne has told us that: ‘Mary and Karen had a well-earned rest’ in the van during their return crossing of Bass Strait’, while she stayed on the upper deck, making the most of her ‘ocean cruise’ experience, by exploring all that the Spirit of Tasmania has to offer its passengers: viewing the pitch-black star-studded sky from the outer top deck, and, back inside, visiting the souvenir shop, the picture theatre, the lounges, and, of course, the coffee shop! Eventually, she did follow the example of her companions, and retired to her cabin for a few hours’ rest before an early rise in time to wake them as they berthed in Melbourne.
Julianne and her Roadshow companions, Mary and Karen, had a wonderfully enriching time down south, and they have sent this message to the Sisters, the staff and students in the places they visited, and the people of Tasmania they encountered along the way: ‘Thank you for the warmth of your welcome, and your wonderful hospitality. We love Tasmania!’
There are lots of photos in the gallery … keep clicking to the right!