A Busy Year at the Mercy Hub
To search for yourself a while, then, with a gesture,
Step across your heart
And set off inland….
Les Murray, Another Continent
The Blessings of Mercy – Veronica Lawson.
2019 has been another busy year of connection, reflection and activity at the Mercy Hub in Carlton North.
Mercy Hub Coordinator, Margaret Moore RSM said the Mercy Hub has continued to become an integral part of the fabric of Carlton North and surrounding areas.
Very much living up to its name, this is a place of Mercy. It is a place of both welcome and outreach.
One of the many wonderful aspects of the Hub is its location; it is in a busy area, very near a city tram stop, a place where people may not expect to see a Mercy Cross on a building like this.
Following Catherine’s example in founding the House of Mercy in a busy inner-city area in Dublin in 1827, the Mercy Hub is a place ‘where the people are!’.
It is amazing how many people who walk by, stop and read what is in the window and then contact us, sometimes quite surprised that the person at the door greeting them is a religious sister! The Mercy Cross on the doors of the Hub is a recognisable link too with the first Mercy Convent in Nicholson Street Fitzroy, two tram stops from here.
For many people the fact the Mercy Hub does not look like a traditional church or convent, seems to get them wondering; indeed it is becoming a place where people often pop in to share something of their own story as it relates to Mercy, or indeed share about a particular work of Mercy they themselves have been involved in; they often have new insights to share with us and it seems they feel quite comfortable coming through the doors.
Through the many activities we have here, wonderful connections are formed between those who might not have ever been to a Catholic Church and those who are still deeply involved in the church and its mission.
We greet and work with people from many diverse backgrounds, yet we all find a commonality in the respect, love and kindness both offered and received here.
The program of events at the Mercy Hub includes a combination of both regular, seasonal and one-off events.
Our regular events include our ‘Comfortable Cuppa Prayer’ each Wednesday where we invite anyone who would like to join us to gather with us to reflect, pray and then join us for a ‘comfortable cuppa’.
One of our Sisters, Ursula Gilbert RSM hosts regular ‘Poetry Afternoons.’ This month quite a large group gathered here to enjoy the well-known writer and journalist, Martin Flanagan unpack and enrich our appreciation of the poetry and letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins. It was a lovely gathering and attracted interested people from the surrounding parishes and Universities as well as sisters and friends of Mercy.
We also have a monthly evening ‘Learning Circle’ at the Hub which is hosted by the Indigenous Hospitality House.
Topics have included, ‘Stolen Wages’, Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu book and the film ‘Prison Songs. We joined them for a special afternoon of learning and sharing during Reconciliation week – they joined us for our Mercy week celebrations too.
The many seasonal events have included reflections, prayers, talks and discussions for Lent, Winter, the Season of Creation and now our main focus is drawing on the wonderful resources available to us for the Mercy Global Presence Program that is being unfolded across the Mercy world.
We continue to be very grateful to our sisters for leading and facilitating some of these sessions. This year Elizabeth Dowling RSM helped us explore the topic of ‘Searching for Home’ and Veronica Lawson RSM led the ‘Season of Creation’ reflections.
In May, we showcased the amazing artistic talents of Margaret Broadbent RSM and others with the Vision of Beauty exhibition, a captivating exhibition of religious icons and a wonderful afternoon of music and song to help us appreciate the beauty of this exhibition.
In addition to events held, the Hub is also an important place for ministry outreach locally and for strengthening our commitment to the global Mercy mission.
Margaret Ryan RSM and the team of largely local people from the Carlton North area have the Hub as a base to enable cookhouses to be designed and built in Papua New Guinea, providing a place of better sanitation in which to prepare food.
Rosemary Patterson RSM and others including Anne Pate continue to grow the critical Mercy commitment and vital work with refugee and asylum seekers and the many ways we can offer them a place for gathering and support, for English language conversation and handcraft works.
As well, Adele Howard RSM through her ecological ministry and as National Coordinator of the Mercy Global Presence Program continues to invite us to draw on the rich resources available for this Program. Adele encourages, supports, and helps develop this ministry in our local communities and across the Institute.
One of the most visible Mercy Hub collaborations is the ‘Sibling Cafe’ which is run by a social enterprise organisation called ‘Kinfolk’.
We are very pleased to support the Sibling Cafe and were delighted that it was possible for us to provide them with a home here in Carlton North. The staff includes a number of volunteers who receive good professional training and experience before seeking employment opportunities: among the volunteers are refugees, those who may have experienced social isolation, and those who enjoy volunteering. For many, it provides them with a way of gaining valuable work experience in hospitality as well as instilling within them confidence as they seek to further develop relationships with the public. There is a notable respectful, hospitable and friendly spirit among the staff at Sibling Café. We are proud to have them as our ‘neighbourhood cafe’ and are very pleased to support them.
Our planning for 2020 is well underway. The Mercy Hub is becoming well known locally and within the Melbourne Church and across the Institute. We are grateful that we can give priority and offer a place of welcome and hospitality to many from our institutional Mercy ministries as well as some groups that are working specifically with the marginalised in the community.
We encourage anyone who would like to know more about the Mercy Hub to visit our website or get in touch with us via Facebook, or better still call in for a cuppa, we would love to hear from you.
Staff planning days, leadership workshops, reflections days, reviews, and a wide variety of activities take place here and bookings are already in place for 2020. We value the presence, vitality and inspiration that comes to us as we continue to welcome a range of Mercy and affiliated groups: Mercy schools, Mercy Health, McAuley Community Services for Women, Mercy Ministries Ltd, Mercy Associates, Young Mercy Links, Mercy Works and other groups within the ISMAPNG services and communities.
Margaret Moore RSM
Some photographs of some of the activities in 2019 at the Mercy Hub:
The Mercy Hub Welcomes Felicity Udovicic
Hello, my name is Felicity and I am very happy and excited to be in my new role as Administration Assistant at Mercy Hub.
I have taken over from Liam Gubbins and I am keen to help out in whatever way I can and create a welcoming environment at the Hub.
I am a recent graduate from a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) at RMIT.
Throughout my studies I had the opportunity to partake in a number of enlightening experiences including community development voluntary work in Mexico, women’s rights and empowerment studies in Myanmar, Indigenous fieldwork in Broome, as well as volunteering with a number of groups and organisations in Melbourne.
As a recent graduate with a passion for community development and social justice, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn and support the fantastic work of Mercy Hub in the Carlton community.
Thank you for the warm welcome from those of you I have already had the pleasure to meet.
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Messages for Felicity to: firstname.lastname@example.org