Sisters of the Immaculata, some of the 21 Australians who came to the St. John Bosco, Applied Biblical Studies, and Defending the Faith conferences singing along during Mass.
More photo galleries
St. John Bosco: Facebook | Flickr
Applied Biblical Studies: Facebook | Flickr
Defending the Faith: Facebook | Flickr
STEUBENVILLE, OH—As always, participants came from far away to attend Franciscan University of Steubenville’s summer conferences, but the religious sisters clad in bright blue habits arguably came the farthest: Australia.
“We came because of the good catechesis, the good doctrine,” said Mother Mary Therese Ramden, of the Sisters of the Immaculata. “Here, the truth is presented with great love.”
Mother Mary Therese was one of 5 religious, along with 16 lay Australians, who attended Franciscan’s three final summer conferences: St. John Bosco Conference for Catechists and Religious Educators, Applied Biblical Studies Conference, and Defending the Faith Conference.
The Sisters of Immaculata’s primary charism is parish renewal, and is committed to helping the Church in Australia grow in faithfulness, orthodoxy, and evangelical Catholicism.
The sisters first came to Franciscan’s St. John Bosco Conference in 2010, where they met Drake McCalister, of the Office of Catechetics, at one of his workshops. Realizing that McCalister would be a good speaker for the order’s annual “mission school,” the sisters invited him and his wife, Crystal, to Australia.
The McCalisters traveled down to Australia in January 2011—Australian summertime—to help lead the two-week mission school, which taught youth and young adults the principles, and love of, the Catholic faith.
Three of the sisters attended Bosco, ABS, and DTF in 2012 for further formation. Mother Mary Therese invited Drake back for their January 2013 Mission School and Drake organized a mission team to accompany him comprised of his wife, one of his daughters and three Franciscan graduate students. The trip was a huge success, and the McCalisters hope to go back and continue the mission.
“According to the sisters, Australia is about 20 years behind the United States in terms of its catechetical renewal,” said McCalister. “But the pendulum is swinging toward a resurgence of the Church.”
The sisters are in a transition phase themselves, with a blossoming religious community, their upcoming move from Sydney to the Archdiocese of Hobart in Tasmania, and thriving lay community that works with the sisters to build parish renewal through retreats, prayer groups, and other faith-filled events.
This summer’s conference season was the first time the sisters brought youth and young adults from their lay community. A special moment during their visit was when one of the sisters, Sister Mary Michael, took her full habit in the University’s Portiuncula Chapel.
The sisters, energized by what they learned at this summer’s conferences, hope to return again.
“The youth love Americans,” said Sister Mary Therese with a smile. “Bringing them here was like our version of going to World Youth Day.”
You can read more about the Immaculata Sisters at http://www.sistersoftheimmaculata.org.au.