Significant anniversaries for Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

By Josh Low

Last month saw the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) mark two significant anniversaries of both international and local significance for their order on 15 March in Campbell Town.

Fr Edmond Travers MSC and Fr Bartha Paniyadimai MSC were joined by Archbishop Julian, several priests of the Archdiocese, as well as Campbell Town parishioners for the Mass.

“Our order was celebrating that day across the world as 15 March was the 200th anniversary of the birth of our founder, Fr Jules Chevalier,” Fr Edmond explained.

Ministering in Tasmania for some 121 years, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have a rich history in the state, following the invitation extended to them by then Archbishop of Hobart, Daniel Murphy, to take charge of the spiritual needs of what was then known as the Campbelltown mission.

Fr Henri Chetail MSC was the first priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to serve in Tasmania, sadly passing away in 1904 only four months after arriving, coincidentally, on 15 March.

“A contemporary of our founder, Fr Henri Chetail died in Campbelltown on that same day, 120 years ago, with a reputation for sanctity in the Campbelltown region,” Fr Edmond said.

“Our congregation has been in Tasmania in an unbroken line since then.”

According to Bishop Patrick Delaney, then Co-adjutor to the Archbishop, Fr Henri’s last words were prayers for his people, and offering his life for the perpetuation of the foundation he had established in Tasmania.

Fr Edmond Travers MSC blesses Fr Henri Chetail’s grave. Photo: Fr Sunil de Silva

120 years on, Fr Edmond and Fr Bartha thought to commemorate both local and international anniversaries.

“Fr Bartha from the Moonah-Lutana Parish and I were just planning to have a modest celebration, in union with our confrères around the world.

“But when Campbell Town Parish Priest, Fr Sunil de Silva, heard about it, he advertised it to other people, and we were honoured with the presence of Archbishop Julian, a number of Hobart clergy and lay people from the Campbell Town Parish.

“It was indeed a modest celebration, but one that was important to us,” he said.

Having served at Campbell Town, Longford, King Island, Queenstown, Circular Head, Wynyard, Moonah and Kings Meadows, the congregation has also assisted wherever necessary across Tasmania.

“One of the nicest things that have been said about my predecessors here – men with a great variety of personalities – was that they were simply a part of the diocese as if they were part of the Diocesan clergy.

“That pleases us because that’s indeed what our founder Fr Jules had in mind for us to be and do,” Fr Edmond concluded.

Tags: Campbell Town, News