our history


Highways and Byways

healing the land – healing ourselves – together

Our organisation seeks to support people and projects which express the particular character and spirit that has inspired the work of the Missionary Sisters of Service since 1944. Highways and Byways started life in 2010 as the John Wallis Foundation, named in honour of the priest who founded the Missionary Sisters of Service.

As the work developed, we needed an organisation with a larger outreach, in keeping with what has always been the spirit of the Missionary Sisters of Service. Highways and Byways incorporates the vision and mission of the John Wallis Foundation and that of the Missionary Sisters of Service.

Missionary Sisters of Service

where it all began

Highways and Byways has its roots in the story of the Missionary Sisters of Service (MSS) and their founder, Father John Wallis. In 1933 a young, newly ordained priest, Father John was challenged by a cry of the heart from a Bruny Island woman: Why can’t we have Sisters to help us educate our children? Does no one care about us people of the bush? John did care.

For the next ten years he thought about it, prayed about it, talked and wrote about it, until a vision emerged of a community of women who would go out into the highways and byways, seeking out people on a mission of love and service. On 8 July 1944, the first little group of women came together to form what became the Missionary Sisters of Service. Over the following 75 years, their outreach grew, not only geographically, but also in the kind of works they undertook, always responsive to the needs of the times. For their fuller story, see www.missionarysisters.org.au.

Father John Corcoran Wallis


The Highways and Byways story begins with Father John Corcoran Wallis, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Service who established Highways and Byways – a Community of Service, to grow their missionary outreach. This is John’s story: John Corcoran Wallis John was a priest in the Archdiocese of Hobart. Throughout his long life, he was remarkably attuned to the needs of people and the movements of the times and had a particular pastoral care for and outreach to people on the margins, the...

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