They are calling it a miracle – $50,000 raised in less than two weeks after a call for help went out from a fledgling religious community in Tasmania. The Sisters of the Immaculata are “touched and encouraged” by the response to their online fundraising appeal launched after a five-acre block of land became available behind their convent in Franklin, near Hobart, last month.
The self-funded community had two weeks before a March 21 deadline to raise enough money for the total purchase, after the initial purchaser decided not to keep the property. Despite an impressive flurry of support on their GoFundMe page they failed to raise the $295,000 required, and the block of land is no longer available. But they are continuing their appeal undaunted, while looking for an alternative location.
The community’s superior, Mother Mary Therese SI, says that their St Joseph’s convent is currently at full capacity, with four young women wanting to join the community and “many more enquiries”. While it is a “wonderful building” it is a converted house, with a makeshift chapel in the lounge room, and not really suited to religious life. In addition, they run a number of popular youth retreats and youth ministry training throughout the year including its 10-day mission school, weekend retreats, and a five-month mission school.
The building currently housing the mission schools is also insufficient for the number of young adults wanting to attend. Mother Mary Therese now hopes benefactors will help them to exceed their original goal so they can purchase land and begin building their permanent convent.
“Having a convent for the Sisters would help us be able to grow, whilst at the same time our existing home would serve as a home for the girls on our Long Term Mission School,” she says. “We have really taken things slowly in order to have good foundation for those entering in the future.”
The community traces its beginnings to a group of young people at St Thomas Beckett Parish, Lewisham raising money to go to World Youth Day 2002 in Canada. The first two Sisters of the Immaculata, including Mother Mary Therese, made religious promises before then-auxiliary bishop Julian Porteous in 2008. Their charism centres on supporting spiritual renewal in parishes through Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, the saints and faith formation, particularly focusing on youth.
They moved to Hobart at the invitation of Bishop Julian Porteous in 2014, but each year travel around the country in an eight-week youth mission outreach. They can be contacted at [email protected]