Sisters of Mercy today share the same vision, commitment and passion to bring the merciful face of God to our world, as burned in the heart of Catherine McAuley in her day.
Inspired by her example and legacy, today’s Sisters:
“strive to contribute that service of Mercy which the newness of the Gospel demands for our world…we must constantly search out the meaning of God’s choice of those who are poor.”
Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy
Read about some of our Sisters’ thoughts about their call as a Sister of Mercy
‘My Life Was Touched …’
Sr Patricia, was there an event, person or place that helped you make the decision to become a Sister of Mercy?
Long before I made a commitment to Mercy religious life I knew it was something I would have to try. After finishing high school education I deferred my entrance to university as I was still unsure whether religious life was for me. However, eventually I listened to those deeper yearnings and joined the Sisters of Mercy.
I think my choice to join the Sisters of Mercy was in some way a result of my many years spent at a Mercy school. I began my education in Year One at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta and graduated from the college in Sixth Form (now Year 12).
It was during these years that my life was touched in many positive ways by the natural humanity and great kindness of the Mercy women who educated me. I was also blessed with a wonderful family who loved and supported me every step of the way.
God was quietly preparing me over these years to make my response and despite the difficulties at times, I’ve never regretted it.
Sister Patricia Bolster RSM
‘The Spark of Mercy Lit Up My Heart’
Sister Katrina, what first drew you to the Sisters of Mercy?
I was fascinated by their caring, generous and compassionate hearts. When I first met Sr Catherine Ryan RSM she made a deep impression on me. She said to me, “We support you, Katrina. It doesn’t mean you have to join us. Don’t feel obliged. We support you to stand on your own feet and choose your own path for your life.”
I have never forgotten her beautiful words. This was when the first Spark of Mercy lit my heart.
In 2010, I entered the novitiate as I wanted to be a member of the Sisters of Mercy, whom I witnessed as having a strong sense of mission to the poor and marginalised.
I’ve lived with the Sisters of Mercy for three years now, and have grown in my appreciation of their kind, compassionate and generous spirit as they follow in the footsteps of their founder, Venerable Catherine McAuley, who said: “The poor need help today, not next week”.
What do you love best about your ministry?
I work as a pastoral carer in a hospital and really enjoy and value my ministry there as I feel that whenever I visit patients and encounter their vulnerability and pain, I’m meeting the suffering Jesus.
My deepest desire is to serve the poor and the sick who may be in physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological need.
Although I can never fulfil every need, I’m grateful if I can give some comfort to patients and their families. “A sorrow shared can be a sorrow softened. A happiness shared can be a happiness heightened” is a Chinese proverb which often comes to mind.
The Spark of Mercy continues to light up my heart.
Sister Katrina Zhang RSM
Pray … Love … Serve
Sr Julia, what gets you up each morning?
When I wake up in the morning I feel a real eagerness to participate in early Mass before going out to my ministry. That’s what literally gets me up. Participating in the Eucharistic celebration is very important to me as it gives me a good spiritual start for the day, and when it’s over we are all commissioned to go out and serve others, loving just as we’ve been loved. What a great start to the day!
Why did you join the Sisters of Mercy?
I was first attracted to their founder, Venerable Catherine McAuley, a woman of great faith who reached out to the poor, sick and marginalised in her society over 180 years ago. Today the Sisters of Mercy across the world respond to their call to Mercy, reflecting in their various ministries the special vow of service they make to serve the poor, the sick, the uneducated, and the marginalised.
Do you like being a Sister of Mercy?
I feel welcomed and part of this warm community of Mercy and am grateful that God brought me to Australia. The Sisters give me great support with my current ministry as a Support Worker and Pastoral Care Assistant at Mary Immaculate Primary School. Here, I am able to assist the parents who are from a Chaldean background, attending parent meetings as a translator, and encouraging families to become more involved in school events. I feel happy and have a real sense of purpose when I can make any small changes to ease the needs of these families because I understand how these parents feel, coming from a non-English speaking background myself. In this way, then, as a Sister of Mercy I PRAY, LOVE and SERVE each day.
Sister Julia Nissan RSM
A Passion to Breathe Mercy
Sister Antoinette, what attracted you to the Sisters of Mercy?
I began my career as a lay teacher at St Patrick’s School, Blacktown where the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy were ministering. During my three wonderful years there on the staff I was struck by these Sisters whom I saw as ordinary, down-to-earth women living out their commitment to mercy and compassion as they ministered to a large multicultural school community. During my final year at Bethlehem College, Ashfield, I had resisted all talk or hints to consider a religious vocation, but at St Patrick’s I began to experience a deep longing to dedicate my life as a Sister of Mercy and felt a strong invitation in prayer to follow in the footsteps of the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, and centre my heart on God. After prayer and discernment, I began my journey towards becoming a Sister of Mercy in 1967.
Tell me something about your ministry, please
After many years in education and Parish ministry, I am currently Pastoral Associate at St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor. My passion for working collaboratively between Parish and School enlivens me. As Sacramental Co-ordinator of the Parish- Based, Family- Centred Sacramental Programmes of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation, I walk alongside parents and children during special times in their faith journey. I can see that, though many families are often disengaged from weekly Eucharistic Life, these parents seek sacramental preparation for their children because their faith is very much alive and they have a desire for their children to be part of the Catholic Community. For me, my Mercy ministry is all about loving relationships, of meeting people where they are at, of encouraging and supporting, but more importantly, to receive and give Mercy.
Sister Antoinette Doyle RSM
‘I Had a Profound Sense of God’
Sister Maria, was there an event, person or place that helped you make the decision to become a Sister of Mercy?
In one sense, all three (event, person and place) helped me finalise a decision I had contemplated for some time, but had tried to put aside.
I considered religious life throughout my years in primary and the junior years of high school, but ultimately decided that I wanted to pursue a career and financial security. I completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and was employed in marketing management with a multinational company.
After achieving some of my goals a little sooner than I had thought I might, I became disillusioned with the corporate world and its excesses and applied to Australian Volunteers Abroad in order to “give something back” to society. In the meantime, a girlfriend from school was getting married overseas, so I went on a six-week holiday which included a tour through Europe.
While in Madrid, I was shocked by the poverty I encountered, and became increasingly aware of my own “wealth”. I went on an optional tour to Val de Los Cados (The Valley of the Fallen) about one hour from Madrid.
Here I had a profound sense of God, and coupled with the disturbance of the poverty I witnessed earlier, I felt challenged.
That night, I was awoken in my hotel by a call from my mum, with a message to call my work as they were trying to contact me. I phoned work, and was told my position had been regraded and I was getting a pay increase!
Ironically, given my growing discomfort with my own financial security in the midst of such poverty, the pay rise was the final straw in forcing me to evaluate my ideals and goals in the light of my values and beliefs.
I returned home to work, but remained unsettled, and contacted a Sister of Mercy who had taught me when I was young and with whom I had remained in contact.
Within 10 days of making contact I had resigned from work, moved into community and commenced Pre-Novitiate within 6 weeks. I’ve never looked back!
Sister Maria Lawton RSM