A brief history of the Sisters
In 2001 Karin Ramsden became the Pastoral Associate of St Thomas Becket Parish Lewisham. A convert to the Catholic faith, Karin was moved to serve in the parish by love for God, and felt a deep and urgent desire to see young people fall in love with their faith. This arose from her own experience as a young woman, soon after entering the Church, of having no one to support her in her faith journey. She saw that parishes were not outreaching, and were experiencing a loss of a sense of community, with the result that many young people were leaving the Church.

She also saw the need to make God the centre, and thus with the support of the parish priest she established Eucharistic Adoration in the church of St Thomas Becket, so that the church doors were open and people could come and pray. Through beginning an adult prayer group, a junior youth group, and later an older youth group, Karin began to build up activities in the parish that provided a place for people of all ages, who had nowhere else to go to receive a loving environment and solid faith formation.  

P1000704 - smallIn 2002 the young people of St Thomas Becket parish desired to travel to World Youth Day (WYD) in Canada, but they were not able to raise enough funds, particularly as some of the youth were from families that were on the margins. They did however know how to pray, and they spent much time in Adoration and held firm in faith that they would be able to go. At the last minute a miracle happened when two generous benefactors gave $10,000 and $11,000 respectively, making the young people’s dream of going on pilgrimage to Canada, a reality. This pilgrimage proved to be the way God chose to continue to unfold and raise up the mission that had been planted in Karin’s heart. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, she used the WYD pilgrimage as an opportunity to take the youth deeper.

In the pre-pilgrimage formation they were led to pray, they were formed in faith through talks and workshops, and they were encouraged to use their gifts for the up-building of the community. Upon returning from WYD the youth committed to service in the parish, in order to give back to the parish community from what they had received. It was in this humble way that the “Immaculata Community” evolved.

Supporting the youth, the parish and families
During this time young women, and later families, came and joined Karin and lived together in an old convent belonging to the parish, in order to strive to live a life of holiness and serve the youth and the parish for the up-building of God’s kingdom. Throughout 2003-2007 the Community’s mission flourished and grew, as they led retreats for families, young people and parishioners of all ages; weekly adult prayer groups; a youth and “junior” youth group and a live annual Easter Stations of the Cross. During these years, people were continuing to be formed under Karin’s guidance, through the community house, which involved commitment to daily prayer, and service in the parish.

IMG 3711In 2008 the Sisters of the Immaculata were formally established when Karin Ramsden (now Mother Mary Therese, Mother Superior of the Sisters) and another young woman from the Immaculata Community, following a desire to belong completely to Christ as Religious Sisters, began a process of formation in the religious life. In this they were assisted by other well-established religious communities, particularly the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia (Nashville), where Mother Mary Therese completed her novitiate formation.

Thus the gift of the mission which had organically grown through the Immaculata Community, was brought to a new flowering under the banner of the Sisters of the Immaculata.  Since then a number of young women have joined the Sisters, seeking to lay down their lives for love of God and neighbour, by embracing a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, in imitation of the Lord Jesus.

parishThe Sisters served the community of St Thomas Becket, Lewisham, for many years, while also developing a youth outreach known as the Immaculata Mission School, which runs annually, and has now given hundreds of young people the opportunity to experience the love of God. In 2013 the Sisters relocated from NSW to Tasmania, and have since been serving the youth of the Archdiocese of Hobart, while continuing to run the Mission School, which has participants from all over Australia.