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.

Over 60,000 years of Continuous Occupation & Culture of Darug People Acknowledged & Honoured

For over 60,000 years the area comprising present day Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people of the Darug nation who first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River.

Out of their strong commitment to the recognition and acknowledgement of the continuous occupation and lived culture of the Darug people in this area, the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta commissioned a ground painting by Ngemba artist Danny Eastwood. It is situated on the site of the first Convent in Australia which was built by the Sisters of Charity in 1839 and now houses the Congregation Centre of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta and Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta.

Danny Eastwood explaining the elements in the painting

The initiative was a direct result of a request from the CLRI(NSW) Social Justice Committee that Congregations be encouraged to consider adding to original Foundation Stones at community houses and schools, a plaque with wording to acknowledge and name the first peoples and local owners of the land on which we have built.

In considering this request, the location where a memorial with several plaques acknowledging the history of Religious Women on the site was reviewed, and it was apparent that there was no available space to add a new plaque. As an alternative, Sr Maria Lawton, proposed the commissioning of an aboriginal ground painting around the base of the existing monument, symbolically reflecting our European history being built upon the extensive history of the first peoples of this land. In viewing the site, artist, Danny Eastwood, suggested the natural boomerang shape of the area, be used as the basis for the concreting for the ground painting.

On Saturday, October 13th, 2018 a launch for the ground painting was held at the site. Guest of honour, artist Danny Eastwood, spoke about the painting and the meaning of the various elements. Danny has named his painting, The Journey. He has used traditional Aboriginal designs to depict aspects of the local Parramatta area, and to reflect the various ministries of groups of Religious Women who have lived and ministered on this site and beyond, including that of the Sisters of Mercy from Callan, Ireland to Parramatta, in 1888.

The ceremony began with a welcome to country and smoking ceremony by Darug man Chris Tobin,a custodian of Darug culture and history. Chris is a descendant of Maria Lock, daughter of Yarramundi. Maria was an outstanding student of the Native Institution in Parramatta established by Governor Macquarie. Her marriage to convict John Lock in 1824 was the first officially celebrated between an Aboriginal and European in the colony. Matthew Doyle, a descendant of the Muruwari people,  played the didgeridoo.

L-R: Sr Veronica McDougall, Sr Carmel McDonough, Mary-Louise Petro rsm, Danny Eastwood, Matthew Doyle, Elizabeth Sheppard, Sr Cate O'Brien, Darug Representative Chris Tobin (kneeling)

Sr Mary-Louise Petro, Congregation Leader of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, provided an overview on how the Ground Painting came into being and welcomed the official guests including:
Elizabeth Sheppard, ATSI President, Reconciliation for Western Sydney;
Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Bishop of Parramatta;
Sr Cate O’Brien representing the Sisters of Charity, who opened the first Convent in Australia on this site;
Sr Veronica McDougall representing the Good Samaritan Sisters and
Sr Carmel McDonough representing the North Sydney Sisters of Mercy. (Both of these Congregations ministered nearby in the late 1800s);
Ms Elizabeth Scully representing Julie Owens, Federal Member for Parramatta;
Mr Geoff Lee, State Member for Parramatta
Members of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta
Representatives and students of OLMC Parramatta

Maeve Brown, Representative of Jesuit Refugee Service, who operate a service on the site.

The ceremony concluded with a blessing with water from the Parramatta River followed by a commitment statement from the assembly, and a morning tea in the Convent catered by Indigenous caterers, Kallico Caterers.

The Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, will open our hearts to the cries of the poor using our energies, gifts and resources to address violence and discrimination especially for … Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples … Chapter Statement 2016.

Mercy Futures: The Earth My Mother

The Mercy Futures Group invites you to our final session for 2018 in our Responding in Mercy to the Cry of the Earth Program.

For the last twenty years Peter Rutherford has managed the Eco House & Garden Education Centre for the four coastal Councils (Mosman,   Manly, Warringah and Pittwater) at ‘Kimbriki’ landfill site, on the northern beaches of Sydney. An inspired educator, he and his team work together to teach sustainable living skills to thousands of school children and adults every year.

Peter is also the author of numerous articles, publications, books and videos. He has been a guest and/or presenter on ABC Gardening  Australia, videos, talk-backs and both live and pre-recorded interviews.

Peter’s passion for, and knowledge of, sustainable living comes from both hands on experience and academic studies.

 Peter Rutherford’s knowledge of the soil and the magical process of composting, worms and microbes is extensive. With passion and a remarkable depth of understanding, he inspires everyone he connects with to create their own ‘Eco Houses and Gardens.’

When: Wednesday November 7, 2018: 6.30pm - 8pm (Refreshments served from 6.30pm)
Where: Catherine McAuley Rooms, 6 Victoria Road, Parramatta
Parking: There is limited parking in the Convent car park. If you require parking close to the venue let us know and we will reserve a parking spot for you. There is street parking in Ross and Villiers streets.
RSVP: By Friday November 5, 2018.
Email: or call the Congregation Office on 9683 2555.

We do hope that you will be able to join us.

Mercy Futures Team
-Carol Harding, Kerrie Walshaw, Claire Thomas, Christine Pace, Patricia Bolster RSM, Mary-Louise Petro RSM

Trees: An Invitation from Earthkin

The Tree of Life is a mystical symbol found in every culture and religion. It reminds us of our common ancestry and of our interconnection with all life forms.

Earthkin invites you to attend a morning gathering focussed on the gift of trees.

There will be two sessions.
Session 1: 'Science, Evolution & Spirit of Trees' led by Kevin McDonnell - Geologist
Kevin has a PhD in Geology and for the past five years has been sharing his knowledge of, and loves for, this ‘Wonderful World’ of which we are a part. Prior to this he spent many years teaching Biblical Studies to students in South Africa.

Session 2: 'The Lure of Trees for the Artist' led by Patrick Shirvington - Artist
Pat began painting full time in 1975. He participated in drawing classes throughout Europe and the USA. He has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize and other painting competitions. His works can be found in several Australian and overseas museums.

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2018
Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Place: Catherine McAuley Room, 6 Victoria Road, Parramatta, NSW, 2150
Parking: In grounds or parking in the church opposite

We as a species were born in and of the forest and grew up with it. Therefore we carry the echoes and specialness of trees in our genes.
– after John Feehan

Participate in the Season of Creation, 1 September - 4 October 2018

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)

In 2015 Pope Francis designated 1 September as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation in the Catholic Church, encouraging all members of the Catholic community to 'rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony [heritage] the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation'.

The Season of Creation offers us all a time for enjoyment of the beauty of our world and all its inhabitants, human and other-than-human.

Mercy International Association (MIA) of which Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation is a member, has developed a number of resources, including a calendar and posters, that can be used to mark the Season of Creation. Access these here.