The Flying Nun - Jeanne Ryckmans

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The story of Sister Jensen's aerial ministry and the women to whom her life has been devoted. Thank goodness for Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council because wearing a long mediaeval-style habit complete with veil and stockings would hardly be the right outfit for climbing in and out of my Cessna plane three or four times a day in forty degrees-plus heat. Nor would it be suitable for attending the Birdsville races, helping a publican's wife pull beers in an outback pub or joining in the odd bit of boot scootin' and line dancing.' A baseball cap, riding boots and a Cessna aeroplane are not normally part of the image that comes to mind when we think of a nun - but then Sister Anne Maree Jensen's 'Aerial Ministry' is not a conventional calling either. For over ten years Sister Anne Maree flew over some of the most remote parts of outback south-west Queensland, bringing companionship to the women who live in her vast bush parish. The stoic resilience of these women who battle against drought and loneliness in a harsh environment provides the 'Flying Nun' with the inspiration to pursue her unusual mission. This is not just Sister Anne Maree's story, it is also the story of the many women to whom her life and work are devoted. With humour, fatalism and hope, these women of the west tell of their own experiences: happiness, tragedy, their solitude and the heroism that is everyday life but also the sense of communion and wonder which the bush never ceases to awake in them. 248pp. First published in 1998, this edition 2005

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