Exploring The Mission of Mercy in Far North Queensland.
A group of 26 Sisters from across the Institute and New Zealand gathered in Far North Queensland earlier this month for what proved to be a very special week for attendees, local Sisters and partners in Mercy.
The Cairns Mission Formation gathering (October 7-15) held at Seville Mercy Conference Centre was conceived by the Institute’s Mission Animation Team and Initial Formation Team. In a break with the past, newer members joined with other members of the Institute as well as three Sisters from Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand.
Maryanne Loughry rsm from the Mission Animation Team (who organised the event along with Sisters Ros Carr and Joan Doyle) said those Sisters who attended represent the many different ministries in diverse parts of the Institute, with a view to coming to a greater understanding as to how Sisters are living mission and ministry in these times.
“We decided to come to Far North Queensland because we thought it was a part of the Institute where many of our Sisters have never been, yet it has such a rich and continuing story of Mercy.
“At the start of the week, we invited one group to go to Cooktown which is the foundation place of the Sisters who came out from Ireland. Some Sisters also visited Herberton, while other explored the Mission of Mercy in Cairns.
“Herberton is where the original Sisters went to after Cooktown. There are still Sisters living and ministering there, so it provided a chance to hear from them about what they are presently doing and also the works of the Sisters of Mercy that continue,” said Maryanne.
The Sisters that stayed in Cairns, went on a tour around the streets, where they saw local schools, as well as other ministeries in which the Sisters continue to be involved.
“It is very evident that here in Far North Queensland the Sisters have played a major role in the development of Catholic Education, as well as many other ministries that are thriving today,” she said.
All groups took time to pay homage to the Sisters’ past, through visits and prayers at the local cemeteries.
The beginning and the end of the week was dovetailed by wonderful input by Liz Dowling rsm, who led a session on ‘Good News to all Creation – Our Mission of Mercy’ at the start of the week and another at the end focussing on the 2017 Chapter Statement.
“In both of Liz’s session there was an unpacking of what this new moment is asking of us, as Sisters of Mercy in 2017 and beyond.
Another highlight of the week was the opportunity to gather with the local Sisters, including a very rich discussion on the Sunday evening with Sisters Carmel Doran, Rovena Duffy, Brigid Foley and Mary-Ann Lennon.
During other parts of the week, individual Sisters gave presentations in which they shared how they are living out their Mercy charism in Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Pacific. There was also a day set aside for visiting some of the local attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda and the Cairns Aquarium.
One of the participants, Joan Kelleher rsm said she found the spirit of Catherine through the hospitality of Mercy here in Far North Queensland in a very tangible way.
“I found a vitality in the Mercies gathered for this meeting. Maybe that comes from how we remembered our beginnings and our sharing of stories with gratitude. We can’t live in the past, but when we acknowledge the past and bring it into the future it has great strength for us,” Joan said.
Watch one of four videos from the gathering:
Our Mission of Mercy – Cooktown – Part 1
Join a group of Sisters on a journey to the place where the Sisters of Mercy began their Mission of Mercy in Far North Queensland. This video includes photos and footage of the former Cooktown Convent, which is now the Cooktown Museum and a visit to the Cooktown Cemetery where four of the five original Sisters are buried. Press the arrow to play.
Our Mission of Mercy – Cairns and Herberton – Part 2
Terry Power (Mercy Ministeries FNQ) leads a group of Sisters on a discussion and trip through Cairns in which the charism of Catherine is alive and well in the schools and other ministries that are scattered throughout the city. Sisters Joan Kelleher and Maryanne Loughry share their reflections on the trip, before there is a photo montage of the visit to Herberton. Please the arrow to play.
Discussion Following Journeys in Cooktown, Cairns and Herberton – Part 3
At the conclusion of three days of journeying, participants were joined by local Sisters Carmel Doran, Rovena Duffy, Brigid Foley and Mary-Ann Lennon rsm, as they reflected on their rich experiences and hear more about the history of Mercy in Far North Queensland. Press the arrow to play.
Good News To All Creation : Our Mission of Mercy
Dr Liz Dowling rsm breaks open the Mission of Mercy in the context of our relationship with the Earth community.
Cover artwork by Margaret Broadbent rsm. Press the arrow to play.
Opening Ritual – Mission Formation Gathering.
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