Worldssps

Global Mission

Australia: a land of challenges and contrasts

Our passion for mission drives us to continue our journey to Oceania, where we are present in Papua New Guinea and Australia, but today our destination is Australia, a country of continental proportions and the great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

 

Painting by Alexander Schramm

 

Relevant Geographical/National Information

Being the world’s smallest continent, Australia comprises the territory of the sixth largest country in the world. Australia is a country and an island located in Oceania between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. Properly called the Commonwealth of Australia, its territory consists of the entire continent and the smaller outlying islands.

This makes it the sixth largest country in the world by area of jurisdiction, and makes it slightly smaller than the 48 states of the contiguous United States and 31.5 times larger than that of the United Kingdom. Australia has the largest area of ocean jurisdiction of any country on Earth. It has no land borders. The population of Australia is concentrated along the eastern and south-eastern coasts.

The geography of the continent is extremely diverse, ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Australian Alps and Tasmania to large deserts, tropical and temperate forests, grasslands, heathlands and woodlands.

Our Nearest Neighbours

The countries that govern nearby regions include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north; the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the French dependency of New Caledonia to the east; and New Zealand to the southeast.

Australia consists of six states, two major mainland territories, and other minor territories. The states are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. The two major mainland territories are the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. Western Australia is the largest state, covering just under one third of the Australian landmass, followed by Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

Australia is the only country in the world that covers an entire continent. Although rich in natural resources and has a lot of fertile land, more than one-third of it is desert.

Most Australian cities and farms are located in the southwest and southeast, where the climate is more comfortable. There are dense rain forests in the northeast. The famous outback (remote rural areas) contains the country’s largest deserts, where there are scorching temperatures, little water, and almost no vegetation.

Multicultural Society

Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and home to the world’s oldest continuing culture.

First Nation People

Australia’s Indigenous peoples have lived on and managed the land for more than 60,000 years however, the early treatment of Australia’s Indigenous population was marked by conflict and exploitation.

Since the 1960s successive Australian Governments have joined with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to work towards reconciliation. In 2008, the Australian Parliament passed a motion of Apology to Indigenous Australians.

In the 1850’s gold was discovered and the gold rush that followed brought people to Australia from all over the world.

In 1901, Australia became a nation, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. One year later, Australia became one of the first countries in the world to give women the right to vote.

In 1945, Australia became a founding member of the United Nations.

Population

Today Australia is home to over 26 million people (Feb 1, 2023) from almost 200 countries. All Australians have access to quality and affordable health care – for both physical and mental health.

Over 30 per cent of the Australian resident population was born overseas. While English is the national language, more than 300 languages are spoken in Australian homes. The top five (excluding English) are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Italian.

Australia is officially a secular society. Christianity (43.9%) No religion (38.9%) Islam (3.2%) Hinduism (2.7%) Judaism .5%. – 2021 Census. Weekly attendance at any Christian Churches rates around 10%. Buddhists and Islam are growing religions.

Though a developed country around 20% of our people live under the poverty line. Homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence, crimes, mental health problems, suicides, underemployment, pockets of indigenous people with major problems are among the challenges of ministry today.

SSpS in Australia

As we have divested ourselves of Institutions, our younger members are free to become involved in ministries to the very marginalized and needy of Australian Society today.

Apostolates

Our Main Apostolate is Pastoral Ministry

  • Mission through Parish and Pastoral work, in Hospitals and Nursing Homes
  • Mission through School, Hospital, Aged Care Chaplaincy
  • Ministering to Refugees, Women in Prison
  • Mission through Aboriginal Ministry
  • Retreat and Spiritual direction

After Prayer and discernment, we as a Province decided and have learnt the freedom in moving away from our two Institutions – Holy Spirit Hospital and Holy Spirit Home – and in being able to engage in new grass-roots ministries. Presently we don’t own any institutions but work in collaboration with other institutions, dioceses, parishes and agencies.

Active members are mostly involved in Parish/Pastoral ministries.

Sisters work in Hospital and Aged Care as Pastoral Carers; Parish Pastoral Associate; Ministry to Aboriginal people; Ministry to Migrants and Refugees; Prison ministry; School, Hospital and Aged Care Chaplaincy; Ministry to indigenous women; Visiting and bringing communion to the sick in public hospital/nursing homes; One sister is CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) Supervisor in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

Our semi-retired sisters offer themselves as Archivist, Pastoral Care, Retreat and Spiritual direction accompaniment; mentor to trafficked women, visiting the sick and homebound etc.

Current Joys and Struggles

  • The Blessings and Challenges of our Intercultural and Intergenerational living – We are from 8 nationalities and our diversity is a microcosm of Australian society today.
  • The challenges related to our smallness, declining numbers, ageing.
  • As we have divested ourselves of institutions, our younger members are free to become involved in ministries to the marginalized, and the freedom this “letting go” has brought us.
  • Sisters feel at home and happy in their ministries.
  • The financial support we are able to offer the wider Congregational mission needs from the sale of our institutions, and support we receive from our Finance Committee.
  • Supporting overseas English language students preparing them for the mission country they are assigned to.
  • We are unable to respond to the invitations from bishops to cross further borders because of our dwindling numbers – we depend totally on appointments from overseas.
  • The struggles of winding up, moving on and setting up in a new place, as we are in the process of relocation of our Provincial House (construction and setting up).
  • The challenge of how to be authentic SSpS in Australia today – how to cultivate zeal, initiative and personal responsibility, how best we utilise our human resources to respond to the “signs of the times” in our present-day realities.

Looking towards the future

 

We do not know what tomorrow brings,
but the options offered by intercultural richness tell us
to be open and listening to alternatives.

Some of us have blisters on our feet from the ‘walkabout’,
and we are learning the best way to carry each other.

Tomorrow may bring a different challenge,
but there is a voice which keeps saying:

I am with you always!

 

We conclude with some Short Stories that give a glimpse of our Mission here in Australia.

    

 

By the Province of Australia

Comment (1)

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Magdalena Leutterova

19 August 2023

Many blessings for you, my dear fellow SSpS in Autralia. Keeping you in my heart and prayer.