Missionary focus at the forefront of the MSC charism

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Home > Media > News > Missionary focus at the forefront of the MSC charism
Missionary focus at the forefront of the MSC charism

It was in his final year of school that the idea of becoming a priest started to take shape for a young Stephen Hackett.

And while his feelings towards a vocation in the priesthood (as suggested by his college rector) were initially mixed, the idea soon grew.

“That seed once planted, didn’t go away,” he said.

“After I left school I spent some time exploring a number of different religious institutes as well as the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, where I was living at the time, and it was the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) to whom I felt drawn.

“I was moved by the ease with which MSC priests and brothers were at home in themselves, with one another in community and with people in ministry, and I was moved then and continue to be, by the Heart of Jesus pierced on the cross and all that it signifies and symbolises .”

Fr Stephen began his seminary studies in 1978, made his novitiate at Douglas Park, south of Sydney in 1981, and spent a ‘wonderful’ pastoral year in Darwin. He was ordained in 1986.

Fr Stephen returned to Darwin 20 years later as a parish priest where he subsequently served as Vicar General.

“The time in Darwin was marvellous because it gave me the chance to offer programs across a whole diocese,” he said.

“While most people experience Catholic life in their parishes, to know they are part of a wider Church is important.”

Fr Stephen came to Tasmania, to Moonah, as parish priest at the beginning of last year.

He had spent some time there as a transitional deacon almost 30 years ago.

With the mission of proclaiming the love of God revealed in the Heart of Jesus and to bring people to experience that love, Fr Stephen said the work of the MSC was far reaching.

“[It can be] …teaching, or as a missionary in a foreign country, as a prison chaplain, a university chaplain, as a parish priest - there is no particular ministry,” he said.

Responsible for establishing parishes, schools and building up communities throughout Australia and overseas, the MSC first came to Tasmania 112 years ago.

Fr Stephen said a missionary focus and commitment to the development of people, as well as to their spirituality, was an important part of the MSC’s charism.

“You bring people the gospel, but you actually show them what that looks like by providing education, healthcare, clean water and shelter,” he said.

Fr Stephen also spoke fondly of the close connection between the MSC and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, a title given to Mary by MSC founder Fr Jules Chevalier.

“In our MSC story, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart has been tremendously significant in our spirit and mission, to who we are and to where we have gone,” he said.

“The image of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in churches – usually a statue – is an enduring reminder of this.”