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Catholic Mission Honours Missionary Women on International Women's Day

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
8 Mar 2016

Sister Anne Quinn with Andrew, a student of St Anne's Primary School in Kingston, Jamaica

8 March is International Women's Day.  It is marked around the world in many different ways and is also celebrated by various agencies of the Catholic Church, including Catholic Mission, the international mission agency of the Catholic Church in Australia.

This year, Catholic Mission is celebrating the missionary women that continue to have a profound impact on the lives of millions, both here in Australia and overseas.

Father Brian Lucas, Catholic Mission's national director, says that women are often the unsung heroes of the Church, though the organisation has highlighted their incredible work in recent campaigns.

"Over the past five years," he said, "Catholic Mission has shown in many of our campaigns and appeals the dedication of women missionaries all around the world," he said.

One of these is Sister Maureen Elliott, a Franciscan missionary sister who began working in Ethiopia back in 1995.  Working in a health centre there, she previously said that almost all of the health problems seen in that area were due to malnourishment and malnutrition.

Catholic Mission is celebrating the work of missionary women at home and abroad, like Sister Alma Cabassi (back right) and Bonnie Deegan (seated), who do wonderful work for the community of Broome, WA

Another is Sister Clara Devaraj, a Salesian sister currently working in India to rescue young girls from child trafficking and child labour, and to provide them with a safe home at their Marialaya Children's Home.  Sister Clara and the other Salesian sisters also offer counselling, medical care, education and spiritual formation to the girls. 
There is also Marist Sister Anne Quinn, who has been living in Jamaica for some 15 years and is the Board Chairperson at St Anne's Primary School in Kingston.  She aims to change the culture of violence and those who experience it through education.

Commenting on these women and others serving as missionaries overseas, Father Lucas said: "Even in the most difficult circumstances-from Sister Maureen in Ethiopia and Sister Bridget in the Philippines, to Sister Clara in India and Sister Anne in Jamaica-the courage of these women, and the local women they work with, is unquestionable and their faith unwavering." 

This year, Catholic Mission is calling for all supporters to remember the immense contribution women make to the Church and broader life.

"Especially today, on International Women's Day, we should take a moment to thank the women in our lives, our mums, sisters, wives, daughters, partners and friends," he said. "Women form an integral part of the wonderful work of the Church in the world, including Catholic Mission.

"Our organisation was founded by a lay missionary woman, Pauline Jaricot, and we've supported inspirational women ever since, from Mother Teresa in Kolkata to, more recently, Sister Alma Cabassi in Broome."

Catholic Mission's Church Appeal in 2016 carries on the tradition, with Sister Eulie Desacula from Cambodia the star of the campaign to be launched in May. She was featured in the agency's 2013 Children's Appeal, which profiled her work at the Lindalva Centre in Phnom Penh, caring for vulnerable young children.

Salesian Sister Clara Devaraj (Photo - Catholic Mission)

Father Lucas says that in every corner of the world, Catholic missionary women can be found working endlessly to promote faith, justice and the wellbeing of communities and those living within them.

 "I invite you to join me also in praying for the missionary sisters and laity around the world, who so selflessly serve their communities despite often very dangerous or uncomfortable conditions."