St Michael's Family Centre
St Michael’s Family Centre was opened by the Sisters of Mercy in 1902 as an orphanage for young boys. Up to 200 boys were cared for at any one time, sometimes by only two or three Sisters.
For 110 years, the Sisters provided services and programs for homeless and at-risk women and children through medium-term supported accommodation, transitional housing, targeted education programs, therapeutic group work, home visiting services, counselling services and supported playgroups at the Centre on Windsor Road at Baulkham Hills.
More than 4000 children were cared for during these years. From the 1970s, further developments saw the Centre include supported accommodation for women and children at risk; long day care; family day care; play group programs; occasional day child care; and the provision of accommodation for families of people in hospital.
In 2012, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta announced plans to close their St Michael’s Family Centre in Baulkham Hills and to explore new ways to continue to address the needs of women and children as risk. Two key factors influenced their decision: the buildings required millions of dollars for necessary restoration and repair work to meet current compliance standards; and, as a small and ageing group of Sisters, they acknowledged their diminishing capacity to meet increasing community needs.
‘‘We want to move our funds out of buildings to direct funding of services," Sister Catherine Ryan, Congregation Leader, said.
The child care services closed in December 2012 whilst other services provided by St Michael’s were transitioned over the next 18 months. Support for women and families in transitional housing continues for the duration of their leases and until suitable long-term accommodation can be found.
The Baulkham Hills Family Day Care Service, which was operated by St Michael’s and reached 400 families in the local area, has been transferred to CatholicCare Social Services Diocese of Parramatta.
On November 30th, 2012, Sisters, current and former Staff members, Volunteers, Board Members, Friends, Benefactors, Supporters, St Michael’s “Old Boys” and their families, representatives of local parishes, businesses, and various levels of Government, gathered to say Thank you and Goodbye to St Michael’s Family Centre. Many memories were shared, friendships rekindled, as tears and laughter mingled together.
The Sisters cherish the 110 years of service given at St Michael’s and look
to the future with hope for the continuation of the mission of St Michael’s
in ways best suited to the needs of our present time.
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