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 Connect Melbourne Shopping Spree

It’s not often that the students at the Mercy Connect Dandenong Library Adult Literacy Class are surprised with something new. However, one Thursday afternoon in February this is exactly what happened. As the refugee students filtered into the library for their weekly class they were each given a number. There were puzzled looks on their faces. This was just one part of the surprise our Mercy Connect Melbourne Coordinator, Sr Mary Lewis, had in store for them...

Read the complete story here

Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Take Action on Climate

'We will enjoy and celebrate Earth’s beauty and bounty and her many species. We will honour our duty to love and care for her and add to her well-being wherever possible.' (Chapter Statement)

The Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, colleagues, friends and students held a symbolic action on 11th March at 11am where they ‘sounded the alarm’ for the Earth’s climate.

The group did this by ringing the Convent bell, reflecting and praying as part of a global multi-faith Day of Action in which hundreds of faith communities across Australia and overseas called for more ambitious action on climate change. The lead local organisation is the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), part of GreenFaith International.

The Day of Action centred on a Sacred People, Sacred Earth Statement signed by prominent religious leaders such as the Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the senior Vatican spokesperson, Cardinal Turkson. Domestically, signatories include Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches, as well as senior Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders.

Climate scientists are urging the strongest action possible to mitigate climate change, hence GreenFaith International’s call for wealthy countries to reduce their emissions to net zero by2030. Governments like Australia’s need to wake up out of their complacency.

The Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Mary Louise said, following Pope Francis’ thoughts, “as Christians we are called to accept the world aa a sacrament of communion. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet.”

ARRCC is calling for higher emissions reduction targets to be submitted under the Paris Accord, in line with a net zero target by 2030. The organisation wants post-COVID recovery spending to be centred on low carbon jobs rather than fossil fuels such as gas, and for finance to be provided to the Green Climate Fund for developing countries.

For further information contact:
Margaret Hinchey RSM
040 770 8232

Thinking Big

As Mercy Works begins to wind down in Goroka and Mt.Hagen in the Papua New Guinea highlands, Sr Maryanne Kolkia, the PNG In-Country Coordinator for Mercy Works, reflects on her experience in the programs and projects she has started there.

Mercy Works has been working tirelessly in the Goroka/Mt.Hagen region for just over fourteen years now.

In that time, Maryanne has become the driving force behind various instruments of change such as the life and skills training programs. In addition to training in practical skills like farming and sewing, Maryanne also identified the need for training in Small to Medium Enterprise (SME). Her experience taught her that this was necessary to enhance the prospects for the trainees to start-up and successfully run their own businesses to sell the goods they produce.

Reflecting on what she has gained from this training program Maryanne says, ‘the training has given me the opportunity to find a way forward’, with plans to now buy shares in LNB Savings and Loans Society. She goes onto say that ‘the team behind her is the reason for the strength and hope she carries every day.’...

Read the complete article here

Hearing the Cries of Persons who are Poor

'We will open our hearts to the cries of the poor…especially for … those suffering hardship because of poverty...' (Chapter Statement)

The National Council of St Vincent de Paul Society released the following statement in response to the Federal Government's decision to slash unemployment benefits to barely more than the old Newstart payment.

"The National Council of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has condemned the Federal Government’s decision today to slash unemployment benefits to a rate barely more than the old Newstart.
National President, Claire Victory said the Society is dumbfounded by the Government’s continued inability to increase a rate that has been condemned by business leaders, social services groups, union leaders and indeed members of its own government. ‘Twenty-five dollars a week is an inadequate response to the poverty experienced by the people forced survive on unemployment benefits. It’s an afront to human dignity,’ Ms Victory said. ‘Twenty-five dollars a day would have been closer to the mark and would have brought income support in line with other pensions..."

Read the Statement in full here