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World Refugee Day, 20 June 2018

'We will open our hearts to the cries of the poor...' (Chapter Statement)

The theme for Refugee Week (17-23 June 2018) #WithRefugees emphasises the need for the safety and rights of all refugees to be protected.

The international campaign continues until a global compact on refugees is signed later this year. UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, is asking us all of us to help them send a clear message to governments that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility by signing the #With Refugees Petition.

Join Sisters of Mercy and people across the globe on World Refugee Day in praying this prayer 'A Moment for Grace' composed by Catholic Relief Services USA.

God of our Wandering Ancestors,
Long have we known
That your heart is with the refugee:
That you were born into time
In a family of refugees
Fleeing violence in their homeland,
Who then gathered up their hungry child
And fled into alien country.

Their cry, your cry, resounds through the ages: “Will you let me in?”
Give us hearts that break open

When our brothers and sisters turn to us
          with that same cry.
Then surely all these things will follow:
     Ears will no longer turn deaf to their voices.
     Eyes will see a moment for grace instead of a threat.
    Tongues will not be silenced but will instead advocate.
And hands will reach out—
working for peace in their homeland,
working for justice in the lands where they seek safe haven.
Lord, protect all refugees in their travels.
May they find a friend in me
And so make me worthy
Of the refuge I have found in you.


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    Mercies March in Support of Climate Action in Paris

    Sisters of Mercy from around Australia participated in marches in the various capital cities, in support of the COP21 gathering in Paris.

    Sisters in Sydney, attended a rally in the Domain, to hear and affirm a variety of speakers who called on our Government to take a leading role in forging an agreement in Paris which will deliver reductions in carbon emissions before it is too late.

    Following the rally, many sisters joined in marching through the city streets, calling for a strong commitment to preservation of our planet for future generations.

    Apart from those who attended the rallies and marches in their various cities, Sisters of Mercy from all around the world "circled the globe" with prayer by joining in praying Pope Francis' Prayer for the Earth, Country by Country,  in their local area, over 24 hours in each of the 10 days leading up to the COP21 meeting in Paris.

    Kenthurst Parish Farewells Community Builder Par Excelllence

    It was standing room only at the Eucharistic celebration and lunch at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish in Kenthurst, in which past and present parishioners gathered, to honour  and farewell Sr Anna Conway, rsm, after 30 years service.

    Former Parish Priest Fr Chris Dixon joined current Parish Priest Fr Vincent Savarimuthu, and other concelebrating priests, in giving thanks to God for the humble and dedicated service of Sr Anna, since before the parish officially began. 30 years ago, Sr Anna was charged with bringing together the small parishes of Kenthurst and Dural, with a section of Castle Hill Parish, to form the new Kenthurst Parish. Focusing on the building of a community, Sr Anna contributed to the laying of a firm foundation upon which the thriving parish of today is built.

    It was fitting that the Eucharistic celebration was filled with beautiful music and song, with Sr Anna having played a key part in fostering and developing a music ministry in the parish.

    At the conclusion of Mass, the community to whom Sr Anna had devoted some much of her life, gave Sr Anna a sustained standing ovation. This deeply moving tribute was repeated at the end of the celebration lunch which followed Mass.

    Over 400 people enjoyed a beautiful two course meal in the parish and school hall, which was prepared and provided by the members of the parish. The beauty of the table and hall decorations, the abundance of delicious home made meals and desserts, and the warm and generous hospitality offered to all presence, was a great testament to the strength of the Kenthurst community.

    Representatives of various groups within the Parish and school paid tribute to Sr Anna, acknowledging her dedication, hard work, faithfulness and generosity. Many made mention of Sr Anna's ability to "enlist volunteers" to various roles within the parish. It seemed unanimous that one "Didn't/Couldn't say 'No' to Sr Anna", while acknowledging that Anna would never ask others to do what she would not do herself.

    It was evident that in her 30 years of service, Anna had not only been pivotal in building the parish community from its inception, but that she was indeed one of the solid foundations upon which the thriving parish community now stands.

    In reflecting on Sr Anna's contribution to the parish, one of the Parishioners added to Pope Francis' words in saying: 

    When we meet someone in love they teach us something about God, and Sr Anna has been our Master Teacher.

    Faith Leaders Take Cry for Justice for Refugees and Asylum Seekers To Canberra

    A positive and somewhat unexpected outcome was the unanimous agreement to set up a taskforce comprising 5 parliamentarians and 5 from the faith group to propose to the leaders of the major parties an alternative to the current policy of ‘stop the boats’ and the cruel detention in Nauru and Manus Island. This will be set up in the coming weeks. The Leaders also made strong requests for the immediate release of children and their families from the detention centres.

    Berneice Loch rsm (President of Catholic Religious Australia), welcomed participants; Anne Lane, pbvm, delivered the statement (see below) Rabbi Alon Meltzer (National Jewish Memorial Centre); and, Hafez Kassem (President of Australian Federation of Islamic Councils) spoke and the meeting was moderated by Paul Bongiorno.

    It was co-hosted by Anna Burke MP (ALP), Russell Broadbent MP (Liberal), Cathy McGowan MP (Independent) and Senator Sarah Hanson -Young (Australian Greens).

    October 15 2015
    Media Release
    Faith leaders hold urgent meeting to call on politicians to restore the human dignity of refugees and asylum seekers.

    Today more than 50 Leaders representing diverse faith groups met with Members and Senators at Parliament House, Canberra, calling on them to restore Australia’s standing as a compassionate nation by winding back policies negatively impacting on people escaping violence, persecution and death.

    As a positive step, the faith leaders asked all political parties and independents to join with them in establishing a task force to work together to change the political and public narrative regarding asylum seekers and refugees.

    It is hoped the task force can build on the recent goodwill arising from the 12,000 Syrian refugee announcement and develop new policies for the thousands of other refugees including ending off-shore and mandatory detention, removing children from detention and abolishing temporary protection visas.

    Sr Anne Lane PBVM, representing Catholic Religious Australia, said the faith leaders have asked all sides of politics to value the dignity of every human person.

    “There have been many reputable reports which show that immigration detention causes significant psychological harm, particularly to children.


    “”It is never right to use people as a means to an end. It is morally wrong to punish one group of human beings by locking them up on off-shore islands in order to deter other people from coming to Australia.

    “We cannot allow such cruel policies to continue,” she said.

    Sr Lane said it is time honesty was brought into this issue, with the whole mantra of ‘stopping the boats’ being just that, a mantra.

    “Due to the lack of transparency, we don’t know if or what boats have been turned back and what has resulted from those actions. “It may simply mean stopping the boats in Australian waters, so that we can hold our heads high as vulnerable people die in other countries and situations to which we’ve returned them.

    “Our nation’s response is in stark contrast to the way the people of Europe have rescued and welcomed tens of thousands who arrived by boat on their shores,” Sr Lane said.

    Sr Lane said economically the current policy is also destructive. “In so far as we can estimate, the taxes of the Australian people are being squandered to the tune of more than $5 billion in implementing the current border protection policies.
    “This money would be better spent assisting refugees to make a meaningful contribution to society, as well as supporting the UNHCR and working with other countries in our region to develop a humane and effective regional solution,” she said.
    Sr Lane said for many years religious groups have put their resources at the service of refugees and asylum seekers by providing housing support, employment, food and clothing, education and counselling.

    “We say to our parliamentarians, stop mandatory detention and let more people into our country and we will work with you to ensure these people are looked after and are able to become part of the Australian community,” Sr Lane said.

    Today’s Parliament House forum was the initiative of Catholic Religious Australia (the peak council of Catholic religious congregations) with the support of other Christian denominations and other faiths.
    Other speakers included Sr Berneice Loch rsm (President of Catholic Religious Australia); Rabbi Alon Meltzer (National Jewish Memorial Centre); and, Hafez Kassem (President of Australian Federation of Islamic Councils).
    It was co-hosted by Anna Burke MP (ALP), Russell Broadbent MP (Liberal), Cathy McGowan MP (Independent) and Senator Janet Rice (Australian Greens).
    For further information – John Rochester 0417 627 904.

    Mercy "Troublemakers" Add Their Voice Over Heritage Concerns

    A petition of more than 10,000 signatures was presented to NSW State Parliament a week earlier on behalf of the Parramatta Female Factory Friends and other local groups in the community who are fighting to save and protect the Heritage Precinct from extensive proposed development around the site.

    Today's rally saw Jack Munday and members of the CFMEU join Federal MP Julie Owens and several community groups in the fight to save this significant site in the history of Parramatta and the Sydney Colony.

    Julie Owens welcomed the Sisters of Mercy "Troublemakers" lending their support in fighting injustice wherever it occurs.

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