Archived News Item

Exploring Mercy Charism

Sr Chris Watt with St Joseph’s School staf

On the 25th March, new teachers and support staff from St Joseph’s Primary School Kangaroo Point Brisbane gathered together at the Mercy Heritage Centre to explore and to enliven the energy of the Mercy Charism as it relates to our St Joseph’s School Community.

Staff were welcomed to the Heritage Centre by Peter Connell Director of the Mercy Heritage Centre who explained the origins of the Chapel where the group had gathered for prayer.  The day was led by School Principal Micheal O’Sullivan who is a member of the Canonisation of Catherine McAuley Committee and a Brisbane Mercy Associate.  Micheal said the aims of the day were to inspire our staff to understand the life of Catherine McAuley, the Charism of the Sisters of Mercy and how this relates to our St Joseph’s community while being part of a wider framework Global Mercy Story.

“It is our hope that staff would be ignited by the transforming reality of the Mercy Charism and Catherine McAuley’s vision, to be able to understand and live this out in our School community while encouraging our students to embrace the same Charism and Vision,” he said. 

In 2011 the school is journeying with the Sisters of Mercy who are celebrating the sesquicentenary of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland and their ‘Living Mercy’ theme, a theme which encompasses the school’s past, present and future. 

Sr Maureen Keenan and Sr Margaret Cheers with St Joseph’s School staff

St Joseph’s has a rich Mercy Heritage beginning in 1880, when the Sisters of Mercy began teaching at St Joseph’s Kangaroo Point following the withdrawal of the Sisters of St Joseph.  At that time, the weatherboard Church served as both Church and School and the Sisters walked daily from All Hallows’ to Kangaroo Point. However it was not until 1889 at the Bishop’s insistence that the people preference for having their own nuns, on the spot, rather than daily visitors became a reality and a Convent was built.  Among the early Superiors at St Joseph’s were Sr Mary Borgia Byrne later to be Reverend Mother and Mother Mary Regis Quirke. 

A highlight for the day was the presence of a number of Sisters of Mercy, for whom St Joseph’s holds special memories.  During the day the Staff reminisced with stories from Sister Margaret Cheers rsm who was Principal of St Joseph’s in the 1970’s along with Sr Joan Lynch rsm who was music teacher for a number of years.  Sr Chris Watt rsm fascinated staff with stories about her Missionary Days in Papua New Guinea, and Sr Maureen Keenan rsm gave valuable input into the Brisbane Mercy Story. 

It was encouraging to see the enthusiasm and commitment that staff embraced in understanding the Charism of Catherine McAuley and her Sisters of Mercy, and how her vision was still a touchstone for us today.  Following the day, a number of staff who had been former students of Mercy Schools, commented that after a number of years things now all made sense. 

In the afternoon staff reflected on the work currently being done by the Sisters of Mercy globally, and were able to place the School’s current social justice project H2O Packs (Help to Others) in context.  These packs generously donated by the St Joseph’s School community will be donated to Murri Ministry and Mercy Family Services in time for Easter thereby strengthening our identity as Mercy people.

As a conclusion to the day, staff were treated to a tour of the Heritage Centre encompassing aspects of religious life and Catholicism.  In addition staff discovered the different layers of the building’s history, the magnificent Chapel and the extensive collection of religious relics.

Messages to: Andrew Beiers (Project Manager 150 Living Mercy)