News & Events

CCJP Seminar Uluru Statement from the Heart

This CCJP Seminar (Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace) was held on Sunday, 17 February 2019 at the Catherine McAuley room, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta.

We began outside at the Ground Painting, The Journey by Ngemba artist Danny Eastwood. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was read by guest speaker Wiradjuri woman Jennifer Newman, followed by an acknowledgement of the Barramattagal of the Darug nation and a commitment statement by the assembly.

The crux of Ms Newman’s talk was as follows:
"The form of constitutional amendment presently under consideration is confined to an act of recognition exercised by Australia, to which the responsive role available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is silent and passive." Through indigenist discourse analysis, with a strong narrative turn, Jennifer Newman gently (and admits herself she accompanies herself with "a lot of arm flapping") proposed an idea of engagement on the strength of reciprocal principles rather than compromising adversarial powers.

During Jennifer's warm, heartfelt and inspiring address to the CCJP seminar group on Sunday, we asked ourselves:
Was this the first time some of us felt that the concept of 'sovereignty' was not so complex?

Read: Jennifer's document for quotes that ask for changed thinking in Australia today can be found here.
Be inspired: by Judith Durham (The Seekers) singing new words for our national anthem (below) 
Read the text: of Noel Pearson's Declaration for Australia, a proposed Preamble for Australia's Constitution here.


 Australians let us all be one, with peace and harmony.
 Our precious water, soil and sun, grant life for you and me.
 Our land abounds in nature’s gifts to love, respect and share,
 And honouring the Dreaming, advance Australia fair.
 With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair. ...

Australians let us stand as one, upon this sacred land
 A new day dawns, we’re moving on to trust and understand.
Combine our ancient history and cultures everywhere,
To bond together for all time, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair. ...

Australians let us strive as one, to work with willing hands.
Our Southern Cross will guide us on, as friends with other lands.
While we embrace tomorrow’s world with courage, truth and care,
And all our actions prove the words, advance Australia fair,
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance Australia fair. ...

And when this special land of ours is in our children’s care,
From shore to shore forever more, advance Australia fair.
With joyful hearts then let us sing, advance . . Australia . . fair.

Second World Day of the Poor

'We will open our hearts to the cries of the poor...' (Chapter Statement)

Sunday, 18 November is the second World Day of the Poor, instituted by Pope Francis during the Year of Mercy (2016).

This year's message focusses on the cries of persons who are poor.
Who are the poor? What cries must be heard? 

There are many different forms of poverty. This year the Pope highlights "those whose hearts are broken by sadness, loneliness and exclusion...those trampled in their dignity...those persecuted in the name of a false justice, oppressed by policies unworthy of the name, and terrified by violence...those poor, rejected and marginalized'.

May we each respond generously to the cries we hear.

In the Service of Peace: November Prayer Intention of Pope Francis

We are all invited to join with Pope Francis and his worldwide prayer network in praying this month's intention: In the Service of Peace.

Text of this month's video:

'It is desired above all by those who suffer its absence.
We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world.
With zero violence and 100 percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one.
Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.'
- Pope Francis, November 2018

We invite you to post a prayer or reflection in our prayer space

The Wonderful World of Trees

At the most recent gathering of the Earthkin Group in Parramatta, the focus was on Trees. Kevin Mc Donnell led us in a reflection on the Science, Evolution and Spirit of Trees, while Patrick Shirvingham demonstrated how artists had evolved in their perception and artistic presentation of trees in the Australian landscape. A lively discussion followed both presentations.

Kevin had this to say-The story of trees, from the miracle of chlorophyll in ancestral blue-green algae to the wonderful diversity of eucalypts (more than 800 species of them) that cover Australia today, is one that spans 2.7 billion years or more. It is an immensely long story that includes constantly shifting continents, major changes in climate, and millions of generations of plants in interaction with their changing environments through time.

When the southern hemisphere continents were grouped together as Gondwanaland and the climate was much cooler and wetter than it is today, it was covered with rainforest. Remnants of that rainforest with its giant figs, Antarctic tree-ferns and vines, and its wonderful array of conifers (Bunya Pine, Hoop Pine, Kauri Pine, Wollemi Pine etc.) are still present all along the east coast of Australia, much of it thankfully now given national park protection.

When Gondwanaland fragmented and Australia began to move northwards about 95 million years ago, the climate became warmer and drier and fire became more common. The myrtles of the rainforest that were better suited to the new conditions evolved slowly into the trees we now call eucalypts or gum trees. They play a big role in giving our continent its distinctive character.

On another level, as John Feehan, Irish scientist and theologian, says, “Trees are at the root of our psyche. We – we as a species – were born in and of the forest, and grew up with it, and, as literally as makes no difference, carry its echo in our genes… No day should pass, whether we walk in the forest or on the street, or carried on thought through a window from our bed – no day should pass without our reaching for that thrilling thought, that the tree my vision enfolds, and all that is growing upon it, and all the other species that people this moment of Earth’s time with us, are in a sense beyond human comprehension, each in its unique way a living ex-plication of an aspect of divinity”. (The Garden God Walked In: Meditation on the Spirit of Trees (2011).

Pat began his talk on The Lure of Trees for the Artist by reflecting on the inherent connection artists have always had for the natural world, describing an artwork discovered at an archaeological site known as Akrotiri on the Greek island of Santorini, dating back 1600 years BC.

From there he introduced us to the unusual landscape confronting the early colonial artists, as the shape and textures of the Australian eucalypt and bushland was something they had never before seen. It didn’t take artists long to realise the colony and early development was impacting on the bushland, as they were the ones out there documenting the clearing. As a result there were artists describing the impact through their paintings. Artists like Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Hans Heysen, Fred Williams were discussed as early environmentalists and this tradition continues today with not only traditional art practice but also contemporary mediums.

Pat also showed us sketches and paintings of trees from his own art work, including the Banksia-Serrata (pictured). He introduced us to the two children’s books he illustrated, introducing young ones to the flora and fauna in which they will grow up and hopefully venerate.

National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

Monday, October 22nd, 2018.

Today marks a significant moment not only for the victims and survivors of Institutional child sexual abuse in Australia, but all Australians, with Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, to deliver a national apology from Parliament in Canberra.

The apology, which follows the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is another step in acknowledging the significant pain, suffering and enduring damage of children who experienced sexual abuse whilst in Institutions charged with their care and protection.

The courage and strength shown by all those who attended and participated in the Royal Commission hearings and private sessions, at great personal costs will also be honoured.

The Sisters of Mercy Parramatta welcome this national apology and again acknowledge with deep regret, there have been times in the history of some of our institutions, that some people under our care were not treated with care and respect.

As a Congregation, and as individual members, we commit to:
• continuing our efforts to ensure the protection of children and vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse within our Institutions and ministries;
• working fully and openly in responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission;
• responding with mercy and compassion to survivors of all forms of abuse.

The Joint Statement by the leaders of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) can be read here.

Should you wish to contact the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta regarding a Professional Standards matter, please click here.