Mother Eunice SSA spent some of her early adult years as an ABM missionary in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands.
ABM was part of the formation of the then Eunice Ball. In 1962, at age twenty-six, she spent a year training at ABM’s House of the Epiphany in Stanmore, Sydney. Colleagues from that year still remember her with affection. In later years, Mother Eunice hosted reunions for those colleagues at the Society of the Sacred Advent (SSA) mother house in Brisbane.
A service of thanksgiving for her life was held in in St John’s Cathedral Brisbane on the 24th June 2021.
The reverent and beautiful service was sustained in part by students from the schools of which Mother Eunice was both an integral part and an informing spirit over many decades: St Margaret’s and St Aidan’s, both in Brisbane. During the Service, presided over by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, women members of the clergy spoke movingly about the influence Mother Eunice had as a layperson and then as an Anglican Religious.
Eunice was an educator and worked especially with young children. Her ABM missionary service included Lockhart River and Mitchell River missions, and a year on Moa Island. Those living in Australia’s larger cities might not have a clear sense of these places, and I for one had no idea that the Mitchell River rises on the Atherton Tablelands a mere fifty kilometres from Cairns but flows to the north west and empties into the Gulf of Carpentaria after traversing some 750k.
Eunice’s time as a missionary led her to return to Brisbane and test her calling to become an Anglican Religious with the Society of the Sacred Advent. She was professed in August 1967 and became long-term Mother Superior from 1982. She was evidently a remarkable woman who lived with a sense of presence that in turn drew and influenced many in their journey to faith in Christ. I look froward to reading more of her life and I hope that the Sisters produce something about her in more detail and for a general readership.
The year in which Eunice was professed saw great change in the Anglican Church in Queensland. The Mitchell River Mission, which had commenced in 1905, and the Lockhart River Mission, which began in 1924, were both handed over by the church to be run as government agencies in 1967. Faith and church were starting to be done differently. Longstanding ways of “doing mission” were changing.
Reflecting on this can focus our thoughts and prayers for all concerned with Christ’s mission today, and for all who seek a deeper engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Bishop Jonathan Holland’s recent biography of Archbishop Sir Philip Strong highlighted the 1960s as a decade of immense change in Anglican life within Australia and in Queensland particularly.
Out of that decade Mother Eunice emerges as a living witness to Christ’s mission across a lifetime of discipleship.
Rev’d Canon Dr Ivan Head
Gifts in Wills Officer
Anglican Board of Mission