Who we are

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.

Ministry Mission

Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.

Peace, Justice, Creation

We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.

Spirituality

We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.

Current News


One hundred years ago, Father Francis Xavier Gsell MSC arrived in Darwin. His arrival followed two earlier missionary efforts to establish the Catholic Church in the Northern Territory, where the diocese of ‘Victoria’ had been established as early as the 1840s. The first missionary to work in the Northern Territory was Don Angelo Confalonieri, who arrived in the remote settlement of Victoria at Port Essington in 1846, only to die two years later. In 1882 the Jesuits attempted a second missionary endeavour in 1882 in Darwin, but had to withdraw in 1902. In 1904, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart were entrusted with the responsibility for the Church in the Northern Territory and Father Gsell as appointed as Apostolic Administrator. He wrote of his arrival:


One hundred years ago, Father Francis Xavier Gsell MSC arrived in Darwin. His arrival followed two earlier missionary efforts to establish the Catholic Church in the Northern Territory, where the diocese of ‘Victoria’ had been established as early as the 1840s. The first missionary to work in the Northern Territory was Don Angelo Confalonieri, who arrived in the remote settlement of Victoria at Port Essington in 1846, only to die two years later. In 1882 the Jesuits attempted a second missionary endeavour in 1882 in Darwin, but had to withdraw in 1902. In 1904, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart were entrusted with the responsibility for the Church in the Northern Territory and Father Gsell as appointed as Apostolic Administrator. He wrote of his arrival:

On the day of the Feast of the Assumption, 15th August, 1906, I landed at Port Darwin. There were three Catholics to greet me on the wharf … My parish church was a tiny chapel dedicated to Our Lady Star of the Sea which could hold forty people. My parishoners led me to a comfortable little bungalow, built by the Jesuits; and this was to be my home for five years.

Father Gsell has been born in Alsace, at the time part of the German Empire. For a time he had worked in Papua until his appointment as Apostolic Administrator of Darwin. Soon he began to promote work among the aboriginal population, establishing the mission among the Tiwi people on Bathurst Island in 1911. Bathurst Island became his home for the next 27 years. He is rightly called “The Apostle of the Tiwi”. It was there that he came to be called “The Bishop with 150 Wives”: he used to ‘buy’ the young women to save them from being forced into marriages with older men. Instead the mission provided them with an education and enabled them to marry men of their own generation.

Under his leadership the Church gradually spread throughout the vast Northern Territory and in 1938 he was appointed the first Bishop of Darwin. He continued his work for another 10 years until he was replaced by Bishop John O’Loughlin MSC in 1948.

So, the Gsell Centenary marks 100 years of continuous service by the Catholic Church, and in particular the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, in the Northern Territory. It is an occasion to give thanks to God for the blessings of the past 100 years, especially in the light of the hardships that have been faced in building up the Church in this vast Diocese, and for renewed commitment to the mission that is Bishop Gsell’s legacy.

To mark the centenary, the Hon Clare Martin MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory will host a reception at Parliament House in the evening of Friday 11th August. On 13th August, during the 9.30 am Sunday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, the contribution of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to the Dioces will be especially acknowledged. Then in Tuesday 15th August, there will be the Gsell Centenary Mass in the Cathedral at 7.30 pm.