End of an era at Holy Trinity Mt Hagen
January 4, 2010 was the end of an era for the Sisters of Mercy of Papua New Guinea who have been living on the campus of Holy Trinity Teachers College in Mt Hagen for 41 years.
The two sisters who have been living here most recently – Joan MacGinley RSM and Vero Lokalyo RSM – moved out of the small staff house which had been home for Mercy Sisters since the late 1980s. Joan will go back to her home community of Brisbane and Vero will move to McAuley House in Mt Hagen.
In 1968, in response to a request by Bishop Bernarding for qualified people to staff the fledgling Holy Trinity Teacher’s College at Mt Hagen, Mother Philomena, the then Congregational Leader of North Sydney, offered two sisters, Margaret Shakeshaft RSM and Cecily Geary RSM. They were joined by Marie Dagg RSM, who had been living and working in the Goroka area since 1956. These three formed the founding group of Mercy Sisters at Holy Trinity.
Their original convent was a large two-storey building, which became a house of hospitality not only for Sisters of Mercy across the Highlands area, but also for religious of other orders and students as well. Many a gathering was held in this house, one of the most significant being the Union of Women Religious Congress in 1977. The focus of this meeting was to present the findings of a national research project into the future direction of the ministry of women religious in Papua New Guinea.
Another assembly which was to have a major impact on the Sisters of Mercy in PNG took place in 1979. At this gathering, an agreement was made to amalgamate all the sisters in the Highlands area as one group. This group was to be the forerunner of the one Regional Community of Sisters of Mercy of Papua New Guinea.
In the late 1980s, with the decrease in the number of sisters working on staff, the decision was made to move out of this house into a smaller staff house also on the campus. It is this house which has been home for three, and then two sisters, until now. Since their arrival at Holy Trinity in 1968, 39 Sisters of Mercy have lived and worked here.