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Marianne Josephine Dacy

19/02/2013: Australia

Being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “is an honour for everybody [in my congregation]”, said Dr Marianne Dacy, of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion. Dr Dacy was honoured this Australia Day for significant service to interfaith dialogue and to the congregation of Our Lady of Sion. “I wasn’t expecting it … it took me by surprise,” she said. “I think it’s very good for the Sisters of Sion to be acknowledged; it’s an honour for everybody, not just for me. “I think other people do wonderful work in our congregation,” said Dr Dacy, who returned from work in Costa Rica just days before Australia Day.

She is the national secretary of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, secretary and treasurer of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies, honorary secretary of the Council of Christians and Jews since 1992, former cochair of the International Council of Christians and Jews Conference, and the author of many articles on Jewish- Christian relations.
Dr Dacy is one of a dozen Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in Australia, and the only one based in Sydney “The Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, we were founded by Theodore Ratisbonne and his brother Alphonse,” she said. “They were Jewish and converted to Christianity and worked with a group of women.

“In the beginning our work was the conversion of the Jews, but after the Holocaust we realised no, we don’t go out to convert people, we should have Jewish-Christian relations.”

After being taught by the Sisters in Melbourne, she joined the order at 20.

“I had trained as a teacher, and I had done my BA majoring in modern history and Jewish Biblical studies,” she said.

She then travelled to Israel to pursue further education. “I wanted to learn about Judaism because Judaism is at the roots of our Christianity.” She was there for more than nine years, during which she learnt modern Hebrew, before travelling to London to attain post-graduate qualifications as a librarian.

“I ran the library at Ratisbonne, which was an international centre for Jewish- Christian studies at the time.”

For 30 years, she has been the founding senior archivist for the Fisher Library Archive of Australian Judaica at Sydney University.

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For significant service to interfaith dialogue, and to the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion.

Founding Senior Archivist, Archive of Australian Judaica, Fisher Library, University of Sydney, since 1983.

Co-Chair, International Council of Christians and Jews Conference, 2007.

Current National Secretary, Australian Council of Christians and Jews.

Honorary Secretary, New South Wales Council of Christians and Jews, since 1992.

Current Secretary/Treasurer, Australian Association of Jewish Studies.

Director, Judaica Library, Ratisbonne Institute, Jerusalem, 1979-1982.

Author, Jewish Christian relations monographs and articles.

Sister, Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Catholic Church in Australia, since the 1960s.

Dr Dacy told J-Wire that she has traced a Jewish ancestor who lived in Ireland in 1780. She studied Judaism at Melbourne University and attended Ulpan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She told J-Wire that most of those attending her class were Americans who spoke Yiddish. She said: “They knew the written language so they had a bit of a head start on me”. She said that the Order to which she belongs was founded by a converted Jew in Strasbourg in 1842. Dr Dacy studied under the late Alan Crown at the University of Sydney. Dr Dacy has made a thorough study of the Talmud and is currently engaged in archiving Sydney’s Jewish history at Sydney University for academic research. Dr Dacy told J-Wire: “This award is a great thing for interfaith.”

Dr Dacy is not Jewish.