News & Events

Congregation Celebrates 125 years

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.

Mercy Works: Sharing Screens & Stories

Monday mornings can be the most mundane part of the new week but sometimes there is a feeling of excitement about something new. On Monday the 14th of September, this particular feeling was swirling around the Mercy Works’ offices as we prepared for a first: delivering a presentation to primary school students via Zoom.

The month of September is an important month in the world of Mercy. This month is where we celebrate the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, and the reason why Mercy is still at the forefront of schools and organisations around the world.

Mercy Day is celebrated on the 24th of September and the Mercy community comes together to celebrate the beginnings of what we know Mercy to be today. This year, it will look vastly different. With Mercy Day around the corner and restrictions on gatherings still in place, schools have had to become even more creative as they celebrate this important day.

The clock ticked over 9:30am and sure enough, right on time, a room full of cheery year 6 students from St. Anthony’s Girraween, appeared on the screen inside the Board Room. One click of a button and the sharing started. Our pre-recorded video began to play and told the story of Mercy Works.

After a short video, the students jumped right in question mode. What started out as a planned fifteen minute zoom meeting turned into half an hour of many great questions. Our hardest decision wasn't choosing the next question but choosing which would be our last one.

Each year, the year 6 students at St. Anthony’s host a ‘Mercy Market’ day where the students come up with different ideas for stalls to raise money for Mercy Works. Ranging from sideshow games all the way to bake sales, the students come up with the most creative and engaging ways to raise awareness about Mercy Works whilst also have a tonne of fun.

Technology has bridged many gaps in its existence but for the better part of this year it has been keeping all of us connected when we couldn’t physically see each other.

This meeting would not have been possible without the incredible support of the teaching staff at St. Anthony’s and for that, we thank them very much. The community at St. Anthony’s has been supporting Mercy Works for many years and we are incredibly grateful for all the fundraising they do.

Their efforts have helped Mercy Works support and fund projects focused on education and health both here in Australia and overseas in Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.

Check out our Facebook page for more photos!

Respect for the Planet's Resources -Pope's Prayer Intention for September 2020

Let us pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner. No to plundering; yes to sharing.

'We are squeezing out the planet’s goods. Squeezing them out, as if the earth were an orange.'

Text of the video:

Countries and businesses from the global north have enriched themselves by exploiting the natural resources of the south, creating an “ecological debt.” Who is going to pay this debt?
In addition, this “ecological debt” is increased when multinationals do abroad what they would never be allowed to do in their own countries. It’s outrageous.
Today, not tomorrow; today, we have to take care of Creation responsibly.
Let us pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.
No to plundering; yes to sharing.

Pope Francis, September 2020

Yasmine Alwakal achieves 10th place in the World Individual and Public Speaking Competition

Yasmine Alwakal, Year 11 student and Head Girl at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta has taken the world by storm in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Competition (WIDPSC) finishing in 10th place overall.

Performing in the Grand Finals last weekend via Zoom, Yasmine has achieved a remarkable result - the best result ever achieved by an OLMC student!

The Championships were due to be held in Shanghai, China in April, however, COVID-19 prevented the event from going ahead. Fortunately, the titles were rescheduled through Zoom from the 14-24 August.

Yasmine competed against approximately 60 of the best students from every corner the world that all qualified through the National Titles.

‘Considering the circumstances, this competition has been an extremely insightful experience that has enabled me the opportunity to challenge myself and compete in such a unique forum. In a time when so many competitions have come to a halt, I feel privileged to have the resources and opportunities to compete online. The competition enabled me to form friendships and connections with speakers from all around the world and strengthen my own public speaking abilities.’ said Yasmine.

WIDPSC requires students to interact and collaborate with like-minded peers from diverse and different schools, cultural backgrounds and countries. Each participant must compete in four different events: Debate, Impromptu Speaking, Persuasive or After Dinner Speaking and Interpretive Reading.

In her 10-minute Persuasive speech, Yasmine explored the unreliable nature of evidence.

An excerpt from the novel ‘Night Rainbow’, was chosen by Yasmine for her Interpretive reading. This focussed on the nature of grieving.

Two debates were live on Zoom, the first one about whether private schools should be forced to subsidise those students in need in their local area and the second about whether we should have a four-day working week.

For her first live impromptu speech, Yasmine chose ‘Outrage’ and looked at how we need to change the Australian image. The topic of ‘You’ll be caught’ was chosen for her second impromptu about the importance of monitoring the idea of truth in media.

Principal (Acting) Marie Wood of Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, said the College community is proud of the outstanding achievement of Yasmine. ‘Yasmine’s results can be attributed to her hard work, dedication and motivation. This event provided an avenue for Yasmine, not only to practise and test her oratorical skills, but to value the importance of the art of expression. Her results are a testament to Public Speaking and Debating at OLMC.’

Media Inquiries:
Allison McNally
Communications Officer
OLMC Parramatta 
Tel: (02)- 8838 1241

Mercy Works: Mercy Connect Perth Opening Up

This year, Mercy Connect Perth began the year like any other. Supporting 22 schools located mostly in Perth’s north-eastern and south-eastern suburbs. 62 volunteers were gearing up again to walk back through school gates to mentor refugee and asylum seeker students both new and old.

It was as the month of March was coming to an end, that Mercy Connect did too. The rapid onset on the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown volunteering across Australia.

In line with other states, Western Australia implemented strict measures to restrict movement in an aim to suppress the spread of COVID-19. This meant the closure of schools and the temporary closure of the Mercy Connect program in Perth.

Gradual improvements in the state’s level of virus transmission, gave the WA Department of Education the results needed to once again allow visitors into schools.

Volunteers have been able to enter schools since the 8th of June, however, many of them have made their own decisions about when they will return. Some chose to go back immediately while others have decided to wait until they are ready.

They were continually informed about the situation giving them the facts to make an educated decision, keeping their own safety their number one priority.

Volunteers have expressed their gratitude to our Coordinator, Jennifer Davies, who stayed in contact throughout these difficult times. They have shared statements of support and excitement as they begin again mentoring the students they had suddenly left behind back in March.

‘It’s wonderful to be back in the classroom. I missed the children a lot and they were all so excited and pleased to see me again.’ – Geraldine

‘I would love to resume as soon as my school would like to do so.’ – Janine

‘We have decided to start fresh in Term 3 giving time for the Principal to organise my assistance in the classroom.’ - Rose

Mercy Connect doesn’t only consist of in-school mentoring but also adult English Language classes for parents who are also refugees and asylum seekers. These classes are held at Koondoola Primary School where up to 15 parents attend sessions. They are assisted by three volunteers and our Coordinator, Jennifer, to improve their English language skills in weekly classes.

Now that these classes have resumed, Mercy Connect Perth is back up and running as it was before the sudden lockdown. While nothing is the same, it is comforting to know that
essential support services are able to continue assisting some of the most vulnerable people in the community.