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AJASS Pilgrimage - Melbourne to Tasmania

April 08, 2017

For the past five years the Principals of the Association of Josephite Affiliated Secondary Schools (AJASS) of the South East Sector have asked that their Year 10 students leaders be involved in a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of both Mary MacKillop and Fr Juilan Tenison Woods.

Last year, the group was blessed to journey to the Sesquicentenary Celebration in Penola SA.

The pilgrimage took place on March 22 to March 25, 2017. This year the destination was Tasmania. Eight member schools were represented:

  • Mount St Joseph’s Girls’ College, Altona
  • Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows
  • St. James Catholic College, Cygnet
  • Mary MacKillop Catholic Regional College, Leongatha
  • MacKillop Catholic College, Mornington (Tas)
  • Sacred Heart College, New Town
  • St. Mary MacKillop College, Swan Hill
  • MacKillop Catholic Regional College, Werribee

A group of 17 Victorian students, together with seven Tasmanian students, accompanied by a staff member from each of the eight schools retraced some of the footsteps of Fr Julian Tenison Woods. The Victorian contingent started with prayer at the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre, lunch at the birth site of Mary MacKillop and even a visit to Point Ormond, the site of where Flora McDonald arrived in Australia with her family. The Victorian students and staff then boarded the Spirit of Tasmania for the overnight journey.

Rough seas over the Bass Strait didn’t deter the pilgrims, as they gleefully made their way down through Devonport, Westbury, Ross, Oatlands and Richmond upon arrival in Tasmania. The group met the Tasmanian contingent at New Town.

Retracing the steps of Fr Julian Tenison Woods was important for the group, as well as visiting the oldest continuous Catholic Church in Australia in Richmond. Saturday saw the group visit parts of the Tasmanian wilderness through Geeveston, including visit an older Church, St Joseph’s, where Fr. Julian Tenison preached to great crowds.

The highlight for all the pilgrims was the session at Mission and History Centre at New Town, “Ask a Sister.”

The students comments will tell you why they thought it was “the best”...

“Overall, the pilgrimage was amazing and it is very hard to pick only one of the many incredible moments. If I had to choose one, it would have to be talking to the Sisters of Saint Joseph. From previous experience with the order, I thought it would be nice but I didn't realise how much it would really end up astonishing me. Talking about their hobbies and history had been interesting and strangely endearing, but what really got me was when we were saying goodbye. One of the Sisters was bidding me farewell when she said thank you to me. She thanked me for saying what I had said; said that it had touched her. She also used my name, which surprised me; I hadn't thought anyone could remember one name among thirty others. She cared for me, even though I was only a stranger, and I think that's pretty magical.”

“The 'Ask a Sister' activity was really funny and enjoyable as learning about how the Sisters have spent their life so far and how they are 90 odd and are still contributing to local footy clubs, creating various cards, crochet and teddy bears was great.”

Rita Malavisi rsj