Western Pastoral Ministry
It has been described as a ministry of presence, sharing both the good times and the bad with those whom she meets.
Sister Mary prepares children living in isolated places for the Sacraments of Initiation (Reconciliation, Confirmation and Eucharist), often by phone lessons. She prepares parents for the baptism of their children as well as guiding people in preparing for the funeral of a loved one. She travels great distances by four-wheel drive and conducts much of her ministry via phone, email and “snail mail”.
History of the Western Region Pastoral Ministry
Aerial Ministry using a Cessna 172 operated in the far western isolated region of the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton from 1981 until 2000. Initially, it was run by Frs. Tom Martin and Justin Clare, followed by Fr Terry Loth and finally by Sr Anne Maree Jensen (Presentation Sister). With changing demographics in the area, families moving off properties and companies taking over with fly-in managers, it was no longer feasible or economical to operate an aircraft.
With some phone systems and limited internet access becoming available, the ministry was restructured to use a four-wheel drive vehicle to visit far-flung places, although on a less regular basis than was done in the aircraft. Between visits, Sr Mary keeps in touch with people in the region via the internet and phone. As a way of supporting them in their isolation and creating something of a virtual community, she sends out a regular newsletter to some 400 people.
The ministry covers a vast area of central Western Queensland and Sister Mary works in conjunction with personnel from the Central Western Deanery, which includes the parishes of Alpha/Jericho, Aramac/Muttaburra, Barcaldine, Longreach (incorporating Bedourie, Ilfracombe, Morella, Jundah and Isisford.) and Blackall/Tambo.
Operating for a number of years from Longreach and run by Sr. Mary Kiely (a St John of God Sister), this ministry’s base was moved to Barcaldine in 2006. From then until the end of 2014 it was run by two Marist Sisters, Cath Lacey and Mary Farrelly. Sr Mary is presently the only minister.
0455 208 746 CentWest.PastCoord@rok.catholic.net.au
PO Box 237
Barcaldine Qld 4725