News & Events
On that day in 1888, a small band of Sisters of Mercy newly arrived from Ireland, gathered around a simple altar and prayed for God’s blessing on their mission to Parramatta.Dr O'Haran celebrated this first Mass and blessed their Convent under the invocation of the Immaculate Conception.
125 years later about 400 people, including Sisters, past students, colleagues and friends gathered to celebrate and to reflect on the theme of ‘Weaving the Threads of Mercy’.
The first thread woven was an i-movie that told of Catherine McAuley who began the Sisters of Mercy; it traced the Parramatta founding story through to today. This segment was introduced by students from OLMC Burraneer singing Sub Tuum Praesidium (Under Your Protection).
We heard from an Eritrean refugee woman about her life, with her focus on the hope she holds rather than the atrocities she has suffered. She told of the Mercy she had experienced in her life and the commitment she has made to share that Mercy with others.
A thread that was woven all through the day was the announcement of 125 Women and Men of Mercy. These lay women and men, coming from a wide range of backgrounds, had been nominated for exemplifying the spirit of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, though their commitment to ‘Mercy in action’ and the living of Mercy values.
The thread of our young people was woven by students from OLMC Parramatta, Catherine McAuley Westmead, OLMC Burraneer and Our Lady of the Rosary School Kellyville. Through singing, chamber orchestra, dancing, works of art and sharing with the audience, they identified numerous examples of how Mercy is alive in their school communities. Their youthful enthusiasm and spirit of joy was inspirational.
Sisters Margaret Sheppard and Valda Dickinson shared their experiences of working with refugees and asylum seekers in detention centres. This justice thread led participants to reflect on the question: From what you have heard, how has your heart been stirred?
Over the years, close bonds have been established among Sisters and lay women and men who are committed to Mercy and want to have a deeper involvement. The Mercy Futures group comprises of Sisters and lay women who have been reflecting on ‘Where to from here for mercy?’ Recognising that the Congregation is aging, the group is motivated to work towards the keeping the flame of the mercy charism alive for another 125 years.All present were invited to be involved in taking Mercy forward. They were asked: How can we continue Catherine's mercy vision in the future?
The concept of a Mercy Place was formed. Mercy Place will empower people reach out to the world in action for mercy and justice. It provide peer support for those in Mercy ministries, skills formation for young leaders and mentoring for women in leadership.
Woven into Mercy Place will be threads representing the dedication and commitment of every Sister both present and past; and all who have worked and still work for the many ministries of Mercy. Those present were invited to respond as to how they might be involved in a Mercy Place.
The day concluded with a presentation to the Sisters of Mercy, a time of Prayer focussed on Threads of Mercy, followed by a Devonshire afternoon tea.
Click here to view the Photo Gallery of the day.
The women who pack The Big Issue for distribution to subscribers have now dispatched 500,000 copies of the magazine through the Women’s Subscription Enterprise (WSE).
The theme of this International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change and we are proud to support the WSE and help provide opportunities for women to positively change their lives.
We have just begun supporting the WSE since with 59 subscriptions across the year, as Birthday gifts to our sisters.
The initiative is designed to offer a safe and viable work opportunity for vulnerable women, as an alternative to selling The Big Issue on
WSE employees hand-pack subscription copies of the magazine, giving them an income and helping them gain new skills and career pathways for the future.
Some of you may already be familiar with the fortnightly magazine, which is sold on the streets around the country. Since 1996, more than 6500 people have sold the magazine, putting more than $24 million into the pockets of homeless and disadvantaged men and women.
If you would like to find out more about The Big Issue or subscribe for $12.40 per month, visit www.thebigissue.org.au.
We hope you enjoy the magazine!
A few weeks ago, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, and the Refugee Council of Australia, together approached the City of Parramatta to propose that the council become a Refugee Welcome Zone, a national initiative recognising local government areas that make a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into the community and acknowledging the positive contribution refugees make to society.
On the 10th October, 2016, the City of Parramatta, led by Administrator, Amanda Chadwick, formally endorsed this recommendation and at a ceremony planned for later this year, Parramatta will become a Refugee Welcome Zone.
Maeve Brown, Manager of Jesuit Refugee Service’s Arrupe Project, which provides casework support, emergency relief, legal assistance and social and educational support to people seeking asylum said, “The City of Parramatta has a long history of welcoming many thousands of refugees and people seeking asylum. Becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone recognises council’s ongoing commitment and support for refugees.”
The Sisters of Mercy Parramatta also welcomed the endorsement by the City of Parramatta. “The Council’s decision demonstrates a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into our local community, upholding the human rights of refugees and demonstrating both compassion and an understanding of the suffering and traumas many of these people have endured,” said Sister Catherine Ryan, Congregation Leader.
Sr Catherine also acknowledged that becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone is an important recognition of the tremendous contribution refugees have made over the years to enhancing the religious and cultural diversity of the Australian community.
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tim O’Connor, said the Refugee Welcome Zone initiative was a simple and effective way local councils could exercise positive leadership on refugee issues.
“Since Federation, Australia has welcomed more than 840,000 refugees and local councils have a proud history of helping support the settlement of refugees who have gone on to make a profound contribution to our economic, cultural and social life.”
Recent research from RCOA across the 143 Refugee Welcome Zone signatory councils found those with large numbers of humanitarian arrivals, like Parramatta, have developed extensive services and activities.
However, Refugee Welcome Zones with smaller refugee populations are also active in implementing support and assistance to the increasing diversity of their community.
“Activities and initiatives introduced by local councils in Australia include local partnerships with community groups and service providers, Refugee Week and Harmony Week events, public forums, living libraries and community-based projects.”
Mr O’Connor encouraged more local councils to consider becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone.
“The process for becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone is straightforward. Councils simply sign a declaration to welcome refugees, uphold their human rights, demonstrate compassion for new arrivals and enhance cultural and religious diversity. How councils implement the pledge is entirely up to them.”
The Refugee Welcome Zone report is available here http://refugeecouncil.org.au/g/131219_RWZ.pdf.
For further information about Refugee Welcome Zones http://refugeecouncil.org.au/g/rwz.php
For further information
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Tel: +61 2 9356 3888
Source: This article in its entirety is sourced from the JRS Website and can be accessed here: http://www.jrs.org.au/city-parramatta-shows-strong-leadership-welcomes-refugees/
Throughout 2016, the sisters have been engaged in a process of Chapter preparation in which we considered the "sign of the times" and sought to identify both the urgent needs of all creation and the ways in which we will respond.
The outcome of this process, was the development of our Chapter Statement, which not only sets the direction and focus for the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta for the six years, but also articulates who we are, and how we hope to be in our world. Having articulated this, the sisters then discerned those sisters who they would call forth to serve in leadership over the next 6 years.
Those Sisters elected were:
Congregation Leader: Sr Mary-Louise Petro
Congregation Vicar: Sr Maria Lawton
Congregation Councillor: Sr Patricia Bolster
Congregation Councillor: Sr Margaret Jones
Congregation Councillor: Sr Margaret Sheppard.
The new Congregation Leader and Council will take office on December 8th, 2016.