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Help needed to tell story of Motor Missions

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The Josephite Motor Missions, which conducted weekly Religious Instruction around the State is the topic of a book being written by Sr Liz Morris rsj.

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As part of her research for the book, Sr Liz wants to get in touch with people who might have been either children or parents in those areas where the Sisters worked.

“I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to share a story or two,” said Sr Liz who retired last year as pastoral director at Bordertown/Keith/Kingston.

Religious Instruction (RI) had been possible in State schools since 1940 and many priests and lay people were taking classes, and continued to do so after the Sisters of St Joseph began their ‘missions’.

The first was in 1956 at Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills. In 1958 a mission began in the Barossa and in 1960 the first of three missions began in the Port Pirie Diocese at Peterborough, covering seven parishes in the northern area as far as Hawker.

There was a mission at Waikerie from 1964–1971 and one began at Georgetown in 1966 after the Catholic school closed. When the Hamley Bridge Catholic school closed in 1961 the Sisters began a motor mission in that part of the world, and it stretched out to the Gawler parish as well.

There were suburban  missions too, based at Hectorville  and Woodville from 1964 and one that focused on the schools in the Adelaide CBD  from 1966 and reached beyond to Thebarton, Plympton and Blackwood high schools.

In 1973, the final year in which the weekly RI system was operating in State schools in South Australia, a mission with a difference began in the South East, based at Penola. The Sister who piloted the project was Sister Helen Sheedy and her title was South East regional education coordinator.

But while the weekly RI system ceased, the work of the Motor Missions did not, as the parishes and the Sisters and lay people who worked in them faced the challenges of staying connected to the families and children beyond 1973.

Sr Liz said perhaps readers of The Southern Cross had been a child or parent of a child in one of the many schools visited by the Sisters of St Joseph from 1956 until 1973. They also may have been one of the many lay catechists or seminarians or priests who also taught RI classes prior to 1973 or a teacher or principal who remembers the Motor Missions and all that was involved to set up RI in schools.

Sister Liz can be contacted by email: elizabeth.morris@sosj.org.au or by mobile phone 0439 858 924 or by mail 43 Tutt Avenue Kingswood 5062. She is also willing to meet and talk with people.

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