News & Events

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!

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.

 

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.