Author(s): Jeanne Ryckmans
A baseball cap, riding boots and a Cessna aeroplane are not usually part of the image that comes to mind when we think of nuns - but then, Sister Anne Maree Jensen's 'Aerial Ministry' is not a conventional calling either.
For the past ten years, Sister Anne Maree has been flying over some of the most remote parts of outback southwest Queensland, bringing companionship to the women who live in her bush parish. (Her parish includes more than 250,000 square kilometres of sheep and cattle stations, roughly the size of West Germany.) 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.
But The Flying Nun is not the story of Sister Anne Maree alone. It is also the story of the 13 women to whom her life and work are devoted. With humour, fatalism and hope, these women of the west share their own experiences: solitude, happiness, tragedy, the battle that is everyday life in the middle of nowhere. Their stories bring alive the sense of communion and wonder which the bush never ceases to awaken in them.
Inspired by the acclaimed documentary on Sister Ann Maree, The Flying Nun is the story of a true blue heroine, a blue stocking bush battler of the cloth, a woman who performs extraordinary feats in the name of God and humanity.
Nuns usually invoke the image of wimples; Sally Field, the original flying nun, or Audrey Hepburn - but Sister Anne Maree is the antithesis. She looks like an airborne E. Annie Proulx! From The Drover's Wife through to Sara and Bonnie Henderson, Australian history is replete with the stories of remarkable women battling the odds in the harsh outback. Sister Anne Maree's life if the stuff of legend. Combined with the 13 accouts of women who live in her parish, The Flying Nun provides a glimpse into a world of reslient and courageous women, of enduring relationships and of Australian lives barely understood and rarely seen by our largely urban populace.