News & Events

Join in a Discussion about Mercy Global Presence Theme 'Cosmos'

Valda Dickinson is holding an online meeting using Zoom to discuss the resources made available to us on the September theme: 'Cosmos/Cosmology'.

The meeting will take place at 5pm on Wednesday December 4.

All are welcome!

To join:
Go to: and follow the prompts

Topic: Mercy Global Presence 'Cosmos/Cosmology' Resources (September 2019)

After reflecting on the various resources...

  • What affirms your point of view?
  • What is moving or challenging you ? 
  • What do you disagree with?
  • Anything else you wish to raise.

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.

Chancellor's role a ministry of encouragement and support

Just when retirement was beckoning for Sister Catherine Ryan rsm, she was instead asked to take on the role of Chancellor for Ministries in the Parramatta Diocese – a position she sees primarily as a ministry of encouragement and support, the Women Matter E-news reports.

"I see myself as a conduit between the leaders of our ministries and the Curia,” she says. “I’m the Bishop’s representative, out there encouraging the ministries and the people in the ministries. I'm constantly amazed at how committed, dedicated, creative and innovative our people are in the work they do.”

The role as Chancellor is the latest chapter in a life filled with twists and turns for Catherine.

Born in Liverpool, England, where her father, an Australian serviceman, married her mother during World War II, Catherine returned with her family to Sydney as a youngster, where she grew up the oldest of five daughters. Her father died from Tuberculosis, which he contracted during the War, when she was 13. Her youngest sister was just over one year old.

"My mother had already become a very good manager with our reduced finances because of Dad’s illness and inability to work and that of course continued when he died,” Catherine says. She was a wonderful, courageous woman, leading a little band of women in our household. We learnt to be very independent and to rely on our own resources.”

Catherine was educated by the Josephite Sisters at St  Felix’s Bankstown up to Intermediate Certificate level and then in 1958 went to Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta, a Sisters of Mercy school, to complete the Leaving Certificate.

She had already encountered the Sisters of Mercy in Orange in Central Western NSW and they had made an impact on her, through their warm care for the elderly housebound people they visited, including her aunt. They had a warm, human connection which drew me in a bit and when I came to considering a vocation, I thought of them. I also liked the women who taught me and I wanted to be one of them,” she said.

Catherine joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1960 and over her 58 years of religious life, has enjoyed a variety of ministries beginning with teaching in western Sydney primary schools.

After some years, she gained credentials in Educational Administration and joined the Sydney Archdiocese Catholic Education Office as part of a small team developing leadership programs for primary school principals.

She went on to work as a consultant to primary schools in western Sydney for a period and then served as Principal at St Patrick’s Blacktown, Our Lady of Fatima, Caringbah, and St Michael’s Baulkham Hills, a role she loved.

At the end of 1990, Catherine felt it was time to move on from St Michael’s and her life took yet another a significant turn. It was at the time of the big HIV/AIDS crisis,” she says. “And I felt called to be there in some capacity.”

After completing her Clinical Pastoral Education at Royal North Shore Hospital, Catherine was approached by Parramatta Bishop Bede Heather to take on the role of Chaplain to people and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

"The six years I spent in HIV/AIDS ministry were so enriching,” she says. “It was an altogether different scene from running a primary school, that’s for sure.
I met some wonderful characters and it was such a privilege to walk with people and families in the pain and mystery of it all.”

After six years, Catherine says the “accumulated grief of it all” prompted her to take a year of renewal, which she spent in Jerusalem, Ireland and other parts of Europe.

"At the end of 1997 I came back quite refreshed and joined the parish team at Holy Family Parish, Mount Druitt, which was another turn in my ministry,” she says.

"It was such a wonderful ministry to be involved with. We had a great parish team. It was what they called a community-based church, rather than a church-based community and the people themselves were encouraged to be involved in finding solutions to some of the quite serious social problems in this largely housing commission community with a big indigenous population. I learnt a lot about homelessness. I learnt a lot from the indigenous community. I was so enriched by walking with these people, by their dignity and resilience.”

Catherine was part of the leadership team for Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, and at the end of that period was elected Congregational Leader for another six years, a period she describes as “a vocation within a vocation”. Finally, Catherine passed those leadership roles on to others, as she approached 75, and was looking towards a more relaxed pace.

"I thought, now it’s time for the tasks of the autumn years,” she says. “But then arrived a new Bishop and Bishop Vincent Long invited me to take up this role in the Curia and become Chancellor of Ministries. He was anxious to have a woman on his team and I had felt that one of the tasks I would attend to in my autumn years was to try and advance the role of women in the Church. So, this seemed an invitation to do something in some way towards that.”

Catherine’s role involves overseeing and spending time with all the heads of ministries in the Diocese, including Social Justice, Youth Ministry, Marriage Education, Natural Fertility Services, Liturgy Education and Pastoral Planning.

"I think my greatest joy is in the commitment and energy of the leaders who work in our ministries. It doesn’t matter whether it’s organising sacramental programs or educating people to carry on the faith, just the energy they have creates such joy and I Iove sharing in that joy,” she says.

Catherine says she is pleased to work in a Diocese which takes seriously the need to have women in leadership roles such as hers, but says there is still much work to be done across the broader Church.

"There is always a great ambiguity between the Church affirming the dignity and worth of women and the reality of where women are in the Church,” she says. "Different women take different approaches to this dilemma, but I’m choosing to stay at the table, so to speak. That’s where I hope we can make a difference, by remaining in respectful dialogue and continuing to work towards the reality of women having a real voice in the Church and being recognised as having been created truly equal.”

This article was first published in ‘Women Matter’, the E-News publication of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office for the Participation of Women.

OLMC Marks 130 Years of Mercy Education in the Year of Service

The 2019 Opening College Mass on Friday 8 February 2019 was an historic occasion for Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta, marking the official launch of the College’s 130th anniversary year.

Over 100 Mercy Girls participated as servers, musicians or readers at this special Mass celebrated by Father Walter Fogarty, College Chaplain, in the Ailsa Mackinnon Community Centre. The community was invited to reflect on the nominated Mercy Value for the year, Service, and to consider how this relates to the Year 12 theme of ‘be the unseen hero in 1-3-0.’

The College community was privileged to be joined by special guests including former College Principals Sister Janet Woods (1978-1989), Sister Ailsa Mackinnon (1990-2004) and Mrs Kitty Guerin (2004-2013),  as well as many other Sisters of Mercy. Federal Member for Parramatta Julie Owens and State MP Geoff Lee were also in attendance as well as members of the College Board and Parents and Friends Association.

In his Principal’s Address, Stephen Walsh spoke about the tremendous growth of OLMC over the past 130 years: “In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks to us saying that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. How we have grown in 130 years to be a blossoming tree - a Mercy Tree - with our branches outstretched, touching the lives of so many as we educate young women of greater western Sydney.”

“It is fitting for us, in 2019, to acknowledge the dedication and service of the Pioneering Sisters, the many women who joined the Sisters of Mercy and, over more recent years, the many lay teachers and support staff, who have contributed to the growth and development of this wonderful school now known as Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta. It's a community that we can all be justly proud of and one we are all committed to serving on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta,”
said Principal Stephen Walsh.

Sister Mary-Louise Petro RSM, Congregation Leader of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, presented the College with a gift for our anniversary - a plaque displaying individual images of the founding Sisters. In her address, Sister Mary-Louise encouraged each community member to choose their 'Spirit Sister,' the founding Sister who particularly resonates with them and inspires them in their own way.

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.

The College Open Day for 2019 is taking place on Sunday 10 March from 10am-2pm.

8 February 2019 - World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking

Pope Francis has declared the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, which is celebrated each year on 8th February to be the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking. St Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of victims of slavery and of Sudan. Australians are being urged to work together, through grass roots action and corporate governance, to end slavery around the world.

Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Catholic Religious Australia (CRA—) of which the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation is a member— and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) join the call for a fourfold commitment to: slavery prevention, victim protection, legal prosecution of perpetrators, and partnerships for change. This commitment begins with awareness raising and action to eliminate slavery in all its forms at a diocesan, parish, school, family and personal level.

“This special day gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we do and what we buy and if necessary, to commit to act differently in order to work towards the elimination of slavery,”

Read the News release and consider what steps you can take to contribute to slavery prevention.