Home' The Southern Cross : July 2015 Contents Throughout history the spirit of God has
inspired men, women and children to open
their hearts to respond to the plight of the
poor and neglected in God’s creation in
the here and now. The Sisters of Mercy,
founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831,
have a unique story to share.
Beginnings and turning points
Catherine’s heart was moved to relieve
the suffering poor after the religious
persecution in 19th Century Ireland. She
urged her Sisters to tread ‘the path of
Mercy – the principal path marked out by
Jesus for those who desire to follow him’.
Her ‘walking nuns’ soon spread in mission
throughout the world, including the cities
and major country towns of Australia.
In South Australia Mercy Sisters came from
Buenos Aires in 1880 and from Broken Hill
in 1902. Their main work was to provide
Catholic education and assist struggling
families. A small Adelaide community went
on mission to the goldfields of Western
Australia. Our pioneers were women
of social awareness, hope, daring and
When women religious met the Vatican II
challenge to embrace the ‘joys and hopes,
the grief and anguish’ of the modern world,
lay people – following their baptismal call
to mission – increasingly took responsibility
for Catholic education, including our Mercy
boarding and parish schools, by then
assisted by government grants.
As individuals, pairs or in small clusters,
our Sisters ventured into migrant and
rural parishes, child care in suburban
homes, social work, nursing, chaplaincy in
prisons and hospitals, university teaching
and administration, religious media and
archives management. Catherine House
and Coolock House were established.
Some felt strongly called in mission to
Aboriginal communities in Port Augusta,
Alice Springs and the Kimberley as well as
the refugee crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.
Others strengthened the 1956 Papua New
Guinea mission, established Christian
teacher education in Pakistan and one
Sister even initiated the national campaign
More recently, in 2011, our two South
Australian Mercy groups joined the newly
formed Sisters of Mercy of Australia and
Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). Belonging
to a national and international community
has brought exciting openings and a
growing cohort of enthusiastic co-workers
Our nation’s hidden poor
Today’s ministries reflect the energetic
Mercy mission response at home and with
our Asia-Pacific neighbours which began
to flower nearly 50 years ago.
Working in partnership with midwives
and Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Care
workers, one Sister travels from Port
Augusta to Whyalla, Ceduna and beyond
to assist Aboriginal women throughout
pregnancy and birth. This birthing program
aims to 'close-the-gap' on Aboriginal life
expectancy through respect and cultural
We offer language lessons, family support
and legal and financial advice for asylum
seekers at the Mercy House of Welcome,
Kilburn. We have ministered at Baxter,
Curtin, Darwin and Inverbrackie detention
centres and we assist families now in
local communities living with an unknown
future. One Sister visits detention centres
for the Australian Government to advise on
improving living conditions.
Our hearts are saddened by the
inequalities and human tragedies in the
Asia Pacific region. One of our Sisters
lives in community in the PNG Highlands,
supporting our indigenous Mercies. Some
are active members of the Australian
Catholic Religious Against the Trafficking
of Humans (ACRATH). A few take
leading roles in Mercy Works, a voluntary
organisation which guides and supports
sustainable Australian and overseas
Contributing to the diocesan vision
Some Sisters, specialising in theology,
liturgy, retreat ministry, multicultural
communities, faith formation and youth
ministry, contribute in guiding roles in our
dioceses, parishes and schools. Others
minister in pastoral and spiritual care.
One Sister heads the team of the
Diocesan Multicultural Office, supporting
migrant chaplains, overseas priests and
30 Catholic multicultural communities
and groups within the Archdiocese. Her
team also assists newly arrived migrants,
refugees and asylum seekers regardless of
their religious and cultural backgrounds.
Another Sister supports the Archbishop in
his care for all consecrated people.
A strong emphasis is placed on social
justice initiatives for senior students,
young adults and rural youth. Sisters
at St Aloysius offer learning support for
Aboriginal and refugee students. A few
of us are spiritual companions to staff of
Care of the poor in city and suburbs
The Romero Community and Carrington
Cottages offer services for Adelaide’s
destitute and homeless. In the western
suburbs Sisters offer a caring and
active presence on behalf of struggling
families and engage in rehabilitation of
former women prisoners. One of our
Vietnamese Sisters works in a government
appointment in domiciliary care as well as
spiritual parish ministry at Pooraka.
We live in a bond of communion together.
Some Sisters tend to the needs of our
elderly in care, who offer a graciousness
that comes from making ‘Mercy the
business of their lives’. Our Papua New
Guinean Sisters strengthen our inter-
cultural identity: we are ‘Sisters across
generations and geographical and cultural
We give thanks for all our Sisters and
partners in Mercy and also for the men,
women and young people in all walks of
life who give witness in our time to the
call of Mercy. Together we joyfully share
in making our world blessed by God’s
love and tender care, a place of mercy,
forgiveness, justice and peace.
Giving witness to the call of Mercy
To celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, The Southern Cross is looking at the contribution of Religious orders to South Australian life.
This month SISTER TERESA FLAHERTY rsm outlines the history of the Sisters of Mercy in the Adelaide and Port Pirie dioceses
as well as their continuing presence in our communities.
Sister Janet Lowe, Aboriginal and refugee support teacher, with students at
St Aloysius College.
Sisters of Mercy (L-R) Elizabeth Young, youth ministry coordinator in Port Pirie, Ali
Roach, social worker, Adelaide and Duyen Nguyen, teacher, religious education
coordinator at Mercedes College.
(L-R) Sister Mary Symonds, lawyer and migration agent, and Emma Yengi, assistant
coordinator, with students at the Mercy House of Welcome, Kilburn.
St Aloysius College
St Mary Magdalene’s
St Thomas More
Mt Gambier East
Adelaide Language Centre
Schools established by the Sisters of Mercy in SA
The Sisters of Adelaide also established schools in Western Australia:
Billiluna, Mulan and Balgo.
Celebrating consecrated life
Page 18 July 2015
Links Archive June 2015 August 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page