Euphrasie

Zeal prevails over everything

Our Foundress

Adele-Euphrasie Barbier

Mother Mary of the Heart of Jesus

4 January 1829 – 18 January 1893

Born in Caen, France

Euphrasie Barbier was a young French woman whose heart was fired for mission when she heard a visiting missionary bishop preach in her Parish Church. Following her dream, Euphrasie left France and spent ten years in the slums of London, England with the Sisters of Calvary, and this is where she learnt to read and write English and interestingly over the years all her foreign missions were established in British colonies.

But Euphrasie yearned to be a foreign missionary and she was soon joined by women eager to go beyond country and culture for the sake of Jesus and his liberating Good News. Her desire finally became a reality when, in 1861, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions in Lyon, France.

By 1864, Euphrasie was preparing her first four young, new professed missionaries to board a ship from London for Australia to eventually settle in Napier, New Zealand at the request of the parish priest. The Sisters’ were required to run a girls’ school.
Around this time Euphrasie realised she needed to have her Congregation recognised by Rome, to provide some independence from other institutions. It was arranged for her to have an audience with the Pope, who spoke to Euphrasie about her new Congregation and its aims. By the end of 1867 Euphrasie had received official Church approval of the Constitutions, although it was not until 1877 that the Congregation was officially approved by Rome.

Let us love him in joy and thankfulness
Let us love him in recollection and prayer
in studies and work, in rest and activity,
Oh, yes! Let us love him always,
and let us love one another in him.
Euphrasie Barbier, October 1865

Sisters continued to go out as missionaries to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, but until 1872 Euphrasie herself had not made the journey. When she finally did accompany several new missionary Sisters to New Zealand, she suffered from terrible sea sickness on the long sea journey and arrived exhausted. Over four years she experienced great joy visiting the Sisters in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and they, likewise, were very happy to have their leader amongst them even if for a short time.
In 1880, Euphrasie established a new convent in Sturry, England with eleven Sisters staffing a large boarding school. By 1882, she was also planning to send Sisters to India at the behest of the Bishop of Chittagong.
Euphrasie lived with asthma and during the cold winters suffered with ailments such as colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and heart failure. Following a particularly long illness, she recovered enough to visit the convents throughout France and in England. By the time she reached Sturry, England she was very weak again and was talking openly about death. On 18 January 1893, aged 64 years, and surrounded by the Sisters in Sturry she took her last breath. Euphrasie was laid to rest in the chapel at Sturry.

Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere

Lyon, France

Euphrasie was a great letter writer and her letters are still being deciphered and translated. Her letters and memories of those who knew her, show her as a woman of faith, impetuous will-power, cordiality and her very real concern for her Sisters and for those among whom they worked. Euphrasie was a truly contemplative missionary woman.
By 1961, the centenary of foundation, the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions had more than a thousand Sisters living in 95 houses in nine provinces: Britain, France, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, India, Burma and Vietnam
At the 1968 General Chapter, the decision was taken to return to our missionary thrust and Provinces were encouraged to open new missions. In 1969 Australia went to the Diocese of Mendi, Papua New Guinea and in 1970 to Broome, WA.
In 1947 serious work was begun on the cause of Euphrasie’s beatification. Her body was exhumed and found to be incorrupt. More importantly, the research involved in the necessary investigation of her life did much to clarify the development of her spiritual and theological values.
The theology which underscores Euphrasie’s Charism is very clear in the choice of title for her Congregation:

To the ordinary person this title means that we devote ourselves primarily to the foreign missions, under the protection of Our Lady. But for us it has a much deeper meaning. Mission means sending. Angel means sent, so does Apostle. Yet, God is the only one sent. The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Holy Spirit, but these three persons are inseparable and work in unison for the sanctification of Souls.
14 January 1870

The gift to which Euphrasie Barbier felt herself drawn was contemplation of the Trinity and the Divine Missions. She explained this:

We who are nothing do not have in mind our own poor missions but solely the Mission of the Incarnate Word who was sent by god his Father to redeem the human race and the Mission of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father and the Son to sanctify the Church. This is the reason for the existence of the Institute . . .
22 May 1890

Euphrasie’s passion for mission lives on today through the Sisters who have embraced her legacy of spreading the compassionate love of God to all peoples especially the most disadvantaged and marginalized in our society.

Special thanks to Sister Mary Philippa Reed RNDM for her beautiful book “Euphrasie” which we referred to in writing this brief history.

Euphrasie’s passion for mission lives on today

Reach Us

Address

Doncaster Heights LPO
PO Box 439
DONCASTER EAST VIC 3109

Sr Patricia Byrne - RIP

Patricia, the eldest of six siblings, was educated by RNDM’s. On leaving school she completed her BA at University of Western Australia before becoming an RNDM herself. She was a gifted language teacher and in the course of further studies she gained a scholarship to the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1972 Patricia became private secretary to the Congregation Leader in Rome, during this time she went to visit Sisters in Vietnam. For over 30 years from 1984 she was a pastoral carer for Vietnamese refugees arriving in Perth. Her profound love for them, she would have said, was abundantly rewarded over the years. Patricia passed away peacefully in Perth on 4th August 2020.

SR Mary Goretty Kim Dung Vu

Sr Mary Goretty Kim Dung Vu

Mary Kim was born in 1946 in North Vietnam and entered religious life in 1966. Mary Kim spent time on mission in Vietnamese communities, then in 1993 she was missioned in Perth, and worked with the Vietnamese Catholic Community for liturgy, with children for catechist and LOTE program and with women in faith accompaniment. Then a move to Melbourne, where she worked for the Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association. Through her ministries, she learned to respect, to love, and to serve people. Her favorite loved ones are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. She feels blessed for being able to accompany them on their difficult life journey as a friend who has shared the bread of life and the hope for a better future. Now retired, Mary Kim keeps them company in her thoughts and prayer.

SR Margaret Spain

Sr Margaret Spain

Margaret was born in Victoria in 1946, receiving her schooling from the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions at the local parish school. In 1968 Margaret began full-time study at the University of WA, at the same time attending Secondary Teachers College. Following her Final Vows she returned to Victoria as a teacher at Sacred Heart Girls College Oakleigh. Then followed six years at Nulungu College in Broome WA. The last half of 1985 was spent in Rome as part of an international RNDM group focused on Mission studies. From 1986 to 2016 she was part of the Senegal Mission. She now enjoys teaching adults English as a second language in Perth and relaxing in her spare time.

SR Marie Therese Ryder

Sr Marie Therese Ryder

Marie Therese is a West Australian by birth, but international by vocation! That nascent sense of having a heart and vision that embraces the world was fanned into a flame in her 40’s when she directed an International Renewal Programme for 9 years at Marino in Italy. There she came to know RNDM’s from across the world and to share vicariously in their missions. The Congregation leader at the time, Sr Marie Benedicte, often stayed with Marie Therese whilst writing a book on the spirituality of Euphrasie Barbier, our Foundress. Her sharing was a further source of enrichment. All of which continues today to nurture and expand her relationship with God, with RNDM’s across the world and with the whole cosmos.

SR Anne Noonan

Sr Anne Noonan

Born in South Perth, Anne celebrated her 90th birthday in July 2020. The eldest of nine, Anne was a born leader and lover of learning. After completing her BEd, she joined the RNDM’s. She was Principal for many years at Sacred Heart Primary School Highgate.Province Leader for Australia and Papua New Guinea twice over, Anne served on the Congregational Leadership Team in Rome, enthusing and animating Sisters and their missionary projects worldwide. Gaining a doctorate in spirituality in USA, Anne engaged extensively in spirituality work, first in Rome, and in Perth 1995-2012. Anne now resides in Margaret Hubery House, Shelley.

SR Mary McInernery

Sr Mary McInernery

For over sixty years Mary has had many opportunities to walk in the footsteps of Euphrasie Barbier, reaching out to the vulnerable earth and peoples. An important part of her personal mission has been seeking of partners for support of children with disability enabling them to reach their full potential through access to education and medical care. As a returned missionary from 22 years spent in Kenya she hopes to continue to share charism and spirituality with our Sisters, partners and the wider community. Mary is fascinated by the history of the Congregation and hopes to find ways of making it more accessible. She enjoys reading and poetry.

SR Veronica Martin

Sr Veronica Martin

Veronica was born in West Perth in 1936 to a very down to earth Catholic family, the second of four siblings. In 1961 Veronica entered the convent and after formation and a year at training college she taught at various schools in WA, Act and Victoria plus a two year stint on the motor mission in south west WA. For Veronica her ten years on mission in Peru, South America during the time of ‘Sendero Luminosa’ were challenging yet life giving. She is now fortunate to have part time work in a parish and in her spare time she loves to read.

SR Patricia Keogh

Sr Patricia Keogh

Patricia Anne Keogh was born in Ashby de la Zouch England in 1944, and her family migrated to Australia in 1951. Pat entered in 1962 and longed to go on the missions, eventually going to Beagle Bay, WA in 1987. Working with the Indigenous people was a very enriching experience. The children taught her much about the environment such as naming the animal tracks, the bush foods and the sea creatures. Pat went twice to Kulaman in the Philippines to help the Sisters and Teachers to teach English to the Primary School children. Today she still enjoys helping adults to learn English.

SR Maureen Dwan

Sr Maureen Dwan

A New Zealander from Christchurch, Maureen was educated by the Sisters and felt drawn toward the missionary aspect of our Congregation. Maureen spent 29 years on mission in Papua New Guinea working alongside the Capuchin Friars of the USA, when the diocese was still in the early stages of development. From 2002 Maureen had six years in Rome on the Congregational Leadership Team followed by two years in Sturry, England setting up a Heritage Centre in memory of the life and mission of our foundress Euphrasie Barbier. A move to Australia included working in the International Mission Office and setting up a Sponsor a Child Programme which she now runs from the Australian Mission Office.

SR Tar Clifton

Sr Tar Clifton

Maureen Faye Clifton is the eldest child of Kitty and Laurie Clifton. She grew up in Moreland, Victoria. In 1937 – aged 11 she became a victim of the polio epidemic which left her with a life-long disability. This however did not deter her from following her dream to become an RNDM, she travelled to Perth to enter the novitiate in 1945. She was skilled with figures and the intricacies of book-keeping. Whether teaching in Western Australia or Victoria she endeared herself to everyone. She enjoyed her retirement at Mt Eliza where her presence at the Senior Parishioners Club and Vincent de Paul activities was much appreciated. Friends from these days are faithful visitors to St Catherine’s Aged Care where she continues her mission of prayers for all. Always with a smile. She enjoys cricket, reading and visits from family, Sisters and past pupils.

SR Lorna Brown

Sr Lorna Brown

Lorna began her schooling at Good Shepherd Convent School in Chadstone, Victoria. Following secondary school at St Mary’s Donald, Lorna worked for two years in Melbourne as a Junior Clerk. She entered the Novitiate in Perth in 1945. Lorna’s missionary experience has been long and varied in primary and secondary schools in city and country Western Australia and Victoria. After three years in Papua New Guinea and nine very fulfilling years as Pastoral Associate, three years in Rome became preparation for retirement. This was interrupted just once by a short time in Kenya. Lorna now enjoys spending her time writing letters to young Sisters on Missions overseas, book clubs, reading and knitting.

Sr Helena Brabender

Born in Melbourne, Helena’s earliest missionary interests was inspired by the Sisters who taught her at Sacred Heart Primary School Oakleigh. With 25 years spent in Broome teaching Art and Fashion Design at Nulungu College, she was able to encourage the indigenous students to be proud of their aboriginality and incorporate symbols from their rich cultural heritage into fabric design as well as gain self-confidence and pride in themselves which led to them winning many awards at the State Teenage Fashion Awards. The Indigenous Youth Art Gallery run by the students was another great accomplishment of Helena’s time in Broome. As well as her role as Province Bursar, Helena enjoys continuing her interest in Aboriginal Spirituality, Art and Fundraising as well as spending time with family and friends.

SR Catherine Brabender

Sr Catherine Brabender

Catherine Brabender was born and educated in Oakleigh at both Sacred Heart Primary and Sacred Heart Girls College. Early years in ministry were in Primary education as teacher and Principal. She then moved into Adult faith formation, organisational development and Province Leadership. For the past ten years was Director of the International Mission Office. It was during these years that she was privileged to visit most Provinces and Missions of the Congregation to assess their needs and then approach funding agencies in Europe and other parts of the world seeking support to enable these great missionary projects among some of the world’s most marginalised peoples, to continue. Through her passion for Mission she inspired many to become Partners in RNDM Mission. One of the highlights was bringing Papa Oo from St Therese’s Orphanage Myanmar to Australia for reconstructive surgery on her ears and as a result a cochlea hearing aid was fitted. This has given Papa the opportunity of an education and hope for the future. Catherine enjoys reading, walking, cooking and catching up with family and friends.

SR Maureen Belleville

Sr Maureen Belleville

Maureen was born in Donald, Victoria in 1929 and grew up on the farm with her parents and five siblings. After Primary School she boarded with our Sisters and was greatly impressed by their wonderful spirit and this led her to enter the Congregation is 1947. During Maureen’s seventy plus years in Religious Life she taught for almost 50 years in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Commencing in 2004 and concluding in 2010 she had the privilege of teaching English to our Sisters in Vietnam. Since then Sisters from Vietnam, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar have come to study here and live with her. She is grateful to God for so many happy years in the Congregation. She now visits and writes to elderly people in their homes and enjoys reading.

SR Madeleine Barlow

Sr Madeleine Barlow

Madeleine was born in Oakleigh, Melbourne where she went to school and first learnt about the life of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. Over more than 50 years Madeleine has had rich experiences as an RNDM Sister visiting so many of our Sisters engaged with poor disadvantaged people in many countries. Over the last ten years Madeleine has enjoyed regular visits to the Philippines with teachers and students of Sacred Heart Girls’ College Oakleigh – making personal contact with Menubo Tribal People in Mindanao and families living on the streets of Manila, and feels privileged to see their welcome smiles of recognition as she returns with a new group of people each year.

Barlow, Shelley

Sr Shelley Barlow

Shelley Barlow was born in seaside Mordialloc in 1941 and grew up in Oakleigh Victoria. Shelley taught at her Alma Mater Sacred Heart Girls’ College Oakleigh, but her teaching, parish and motor mission ministry was mostly in WA. Short-term Ministry in the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar was a great joy for her. The heightened experiences of interculturality and finding the face of God in the other, have been bright highlights in her life. Currently Province Vicar she also enjoys pursuing her passion for creation spirituality through retreats and book clubs.