Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Wednesday, 06 April 2011 11:05
Fr Laurie Bissett MSC is parish priest of Thursday Island. He offers an outline of the parish's history as well as an invitation at the end to fellow MSC for supply work in July-August.
Sacred Heart Mission Thursday Island (including other islands in the Torres Strait such as Hammond, Horn, Prince of Wales, and the Northern Cape York Peninsula towns of Bamaga and Seisia, and extending an outreach, due to lack of priests in the Cairns Diocese, to Weipa), was founded by Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 1884.
The first MSC came to Thursday Island as part of a contingent of MSC commissioned by Fr Chevalier at the invitation of Pope Leo xiii through the Propagation of the Faith, to take responsibility for the Vicariate of Melanesia and Micronesia. On their way from Botany/Randwick in 1884 they were asked by Archbishop Moran of Sydney to supply men for the Catholic Filipino pearl divers and their families.
And so it happened that on October 24 1884, Frs Andre Navarre and Fernand Hartzer and Br. Guiseppe de Santis arrived at Thursday island, the Australian Government administrative centre for the Torres Strait. It was for many MSC a great disappointment when Pastoral Diocesan care for the Torres Strait passed into the hands of the Cairns Diocese in 1967 when the Diocesan boundaries between NT and Cairns were rearranged by the Holy See.
In the middle of last year, 2010, while helping out in the Townsville and Cairns diocese I had a surprise call from Bishop Foley of Cairns asking if I would like a ‘holiday’ on Thursday Is to see if I would be interested in a more permanent role. And so here I am at the appointment of the then provincial Tim Brennan. Now that I am here, as part of the Cairns Diocese jurisdiction, many MSC have expressed their pleasure that the MSC are ‘back’, as have other people who knew us from our days before 1967.
I celebrate Mass in 5 Centres, one of them once a month (Weipa) and another twice a month (Bamaga) and the others every week, while mostly on Thursday island. There is a large presbytery on TI, a presbytery on Hammond and Weipa and little units attached to the church at Horn and Bamaga. Once the Wet finishes in May the weather is delightful.
[I missed out on a holiday last year as I was too busy up in North Qld and hope to get one this year. I am asking if any MSC who does not get sea sick, who likes palm trees, white sand and beautiful people with flowers in their hair, balmy SE breezes, crystal clear water, heavenly fishing, loving parishioners and a parish life steeped in MSC history, would like a holiday while I take a holiday sometime between May to August (no later than August/September in case early rains prevent me riding my bike back up the Cape). It is not onerous work as in PNG but there is travel between islands in either dinghies or ferries. Come on! Give yourself a break. All I ask is that you do not stage a coup and ‘take over’ completely in my absence; it is too good to leave. Come on up and enjoy. All living expenses paid.](Fr Laurie Bissett msc)
Sacred Heart Mission Parish
PO Box 142
Thursday Island Qld 4875