News & Events

Missioning of Stephen Walsh OLMC Principal

As the oldest continuous ministry of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, Our Lady of Mercy College holds a special place in the history and hearts of the Parramatta Sisters, as indeed the education of women was close to the heart of Catherine McAuley:

“The Sisters shall be convinced that no work of charity can be more productive of good to society, or more conducive to the happiness of others, than the careful instruction of women; because, whatever be the station they are destined to fill, their example and their advice will always have great influence”  Catherine McAuley

Commencing within 4 weeks of the Sisters’ arrival from Callan in 1888, the College was administered for its first 115 years by only seven Principals, each being a Sister of Mercy.

In 2003, the First Lay Principal, Mrs Kitty Guerin, was appointed and generously served the College for the past 10 years. Kitty retired at the end of 2013, having steered the College through a significant building program, and numerous changes within the education sector.

At the Opening Mass for the 2014 year at the College, Mr Stephen Walsh was missioned by Sister Catherine Ryan, Congregation Leader, as the Ninth principal of the College, charged with the responsibility to continue the education of young women and girls at the College in the Mercy Tradition.

Stephen joins the College at a significant point in its history. As the community both celebrates the many successes and achievements of the past 125 years, and looks forward to its future in providing the very best in educational opportunities for girls and young women in the 21st Century. Stephen brings to his role a commitment to the Mercy Values and significant experience in teaching and educational administration within the Catholic Education System.


Ex-students Join Panel for OLMC Parramatta Women in Leadership Forum

On Wednesday 26 May, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta held its fourth annual Women in Leadership Forum in the Ailsa Mackinnon Community Centre.

Students, staff and families were joined by alumnae and visitors from other schools at this inspirational evening. The event was a chance to hear from a panel of women which included OLMC ex-students Melanie Silva (VP, Managing Director for Google Australia and New Zealand, from the OLMC Class of 1994) and Dr Natalie Galea (Academic, Activist and Olympian, from the OLMC Class of 1991), along with Professor Deborah Richards (Department of Computing at Macquarie University) and Michelle Lee (Adventurer and Athlete).

The speakers imparted their perspectives on women and leadership, sharing their stories of successes, opportunities and challenges, with honestly and humility. OLMC Parramatta ex-students Melanie and Natalie reflected on their positive experiences at the College, both concluding that OLMC imbued in them a strong conviction that it was possible for them to achieve anything. “I walked out of OLMC thinking that I can do whatever I want to do,” said Melanie. She went on to implore those present to “stay curious, follow your passions and take some risks because you will always learn from them.” Natalie continued in a similar theme, highlighting that, whilst at OLMC, she felt a strong feeling of fierceness, that anything was possible, and that social justice could be achieved.

Professor Deborah Richards focussed on the qualities of leadership, describing good leaders as consultative: “They listen and respect other people’s goals, beliefs and values – understanding that each person is their own person with unique experiences. She shared her belief that being a leader means being someone who is worthy of being followed. Adventurer and Athlete Michelle Lee focused on the importance of being true to yourself and connecting emotionally with your goal: “by following my heart and being true to my compass, I found my purpose.”

Principal Lucie Farrugia said she was inspired by their messages of courage and service and how they resonated with our Mercy community: “This was an extraordinary night where all our speakers have inspired and ignited in us a sense of limitless possibilities.”

Established in 1889, OLMC Parramatta is a leading independent Catholic girls’ school which provides contemporary and innovative learning in the rich Mercy tradition. As one of the oldest Catholic Girls’ schools in NSW, our rich history of excellence inspires our young Mercy women to expand beyond what they know they can be and to lead with courage and act justly, making a difference in an ever-changing world.

Media Inquiries
:         Christine Pace
Communications Officer OLMC Parramatta

Mercy Works: Mercy Connect Photography Day

Most Australians carry around a device, usually a smartphone, that can access the internet, track our locations, carry digital wallets and take photos. It is quite remarkable how connected we are to technology each day. In 2019 Mercy Connect had the idea to build on this relationship with technology to foster a human connection between two schools from quite different parts of Sydney.

The project, which first took place in May 2019, gave students from two different schools the opportunity to meet and connect with someone new and to explore and photograph a new city together using their smartphones. In 2020 the global pandemic derailed any hopes of holding this event. This year, however, it’s all systems go for the students of Mary Mackillop Catholic College and Monte Sant’ Angelo, North Sydney to meet, learn how to use their smartphones to take better photos, and explore Parramatta together.

Read the complete article here

National Reconciliation Week 2021, 27 May - 3 June

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) in Australia (27 May - 3 June) is held to celebrate Indigenous history and culture and to celebrate and promote respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

This year during National Reconciliation Week, Reconciliation Australia, with the theme More Than A Word. Reconciliation Takes Action  urges the reconciliation movement 'towards braver and more impactful action.'

This week is also an opportunity for all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, to participate in events, to share that knowledge and help us grow as a nation. 

We, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation, came to this area in 1888. For over 60,000 years, this area comprising present day Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug, who first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River. Burramattagal is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word for 'place where the eels lie down' to breed (within the Parramatta River).

As we prepare to move forward together, this week offers us and all non-Indigenous Australians a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture. More information about the traditional owners of this land, the Darug people, can be learned here

Accompanied and Held

Sunday, 18th April, 2021 held great significance for us, the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, as well as for our Centre’s Administration Staff, representative of some of our ministries and sponsored works, and the Sisters of Mercy Callan, Co. Kilkenny Ireland Community joined via video. This date marked the dedication of a Founders Chapel - a ‘small chapel within a chapel’ - created in one of the precepts within the Mother Mary Clare Dunphy Chapel which was formally consecrated and opened in 1939.

Panels and Photographs for Founders

It all started with the ‘dream’ of one of our Irish sisters, Johanna Conway from Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny. Her hope was to have the precept which contained the tomb of Mother Mary Clare, Superior of the Congregation’s founding community from Callan, dedicated as a place for quiet and prayer. The precept also displays a beautiful stain-glass window which honours the nine pioneer sisters, as well as an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour gifted during the sisters’ ocean voyage on the Cuzco bound for Australia in 1888.

Johanna’s ‘dream’ of dedicating the precept became a reality through the initiative of Sr Mary-Louise Petro, Congregation Leader who, with the backing of the Leadership Team, commissioned one of our sisters, Rosemary Crumlin, a recognised artist and religious art curator, to progress the concept of an art piece for the wall. Rosemary became Project Advisor and Coordinator, and subsequently invited an artist friend, Anthony Russo, to create a work that would capture the courage and steadfastness of our nine founding sisters’ journey from Ireland.

The result is stunning:  a set of five brass panels engraved with the continuing outline of the movement of the Cuzco on the ocean waves and inscriptions of the names and ages of the nine courageous founding women.

The Ceremony itself held poignant as well as inspirational and humorous moments. Following a warm welcome by Mary-Louise, and an Acknowledgement of Country by Sr Maria Lawton, Vicar, Sr Marg Hinchey commenced the commentary which would accompany each movement of the celebration. The haunting music of the Deer’s Cry, played on cello by Patrick Dexter, created an emotive backdrop to a procession of archival items which had accompanied the sisters on their journey in 1888. An accompanying commentary for a letter of invitation from Cardinal Patrick Moran, a chalice from Kilkenny, a Sacred Music Book and a beautifully scripted Diary, was read by Sr Joan Keogh.                                                          

Our three Irish sisters, Anna and Johanna Conway from Mullinavat, Co. Kilkenny and Catherine Harris, from Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford shared touching glimpses into the backgrounds of the founding ‘Spirit Mothers’. These short biographies also offered insights into the giftedness these nine young women brought to the creation of the new Foundation. The powerful, emotive lyrics and melody of ‘Standing on the Shoulders’ which followed the reading of the biographies visibly touched the hearts of those present.

L-R: Sr Johanna Conway, Sr Catherine Harris, Sr Anna Conway

A reading of Diary excerpts read by Sisters Antoinette Doyle and Joyce Vella evoked audible and visible responses, expressing the depth of appreciation of what these young Irish women had experienced some 133 years ago: the ‘rocky’ times with seasickness, the inability to leave the ship at any time, the spontaneous moments of joy and fun, and the envisaged underlying homesickness.

Accompanied and Held, a litany composed and read by Sr Valda Dickinson, captured appreciation and awe for the elements of creation which had accompanied and held the nine women: the sacred body of the universe, the waters of the great oceans, the sun, moon, stars and overhead canopy of sky and clouds, changing tides, winds, waves and currents, aquatic creates, birds, grains and fruits of the earth, sighting of the Southern Cross and the Australian Coastline, their voyage encompassing all of the larger story of Earth and Universe.

  The final movement of the Ceremony held the formal blessing of the panels by Mary-Louise and Rosemary using a small branch from an Australian eucalyptus tree and a blend of Easter     water, water from Baggott Street and the Parramatta River. The blessing was a fitting culmination, filled with deep emotion and solemnity, and the final song, Ave Maria, an     acknowledgement of Mary as a river of mercy, sent its strains reverberating around the Chapel and into the ‘small chapel within a chapel’.

 Words of appreciation received from the Callan sisters and all present at the Ceremony have expressed a deeper sense of inclusion in the Mercy story, a stronger connection with Mercy  across borders, a richer appreciation of our founders’ courage and steadfastness, and a more profound commitment to the Mercy mission.

The concluding words inscribed on the Dedication plaque of the Founders Chapel hold an ongoing invitation to all who enter this sacred space: Welcome to this little place of the heart – a place to wait and be still. (Rosemary Crumlin)

Founders Chapel Plaque