Goulburn Congregation Celebrates
In late October and early November the sisters of the Goulburn Congregation celebrated the life of the congregation and the commitment of its sisters over the last 152 years. The celebrations occurred in Goulburn on October 29th, which is the actual celebration day for the arrival of the first sisters to Goulburn, and in Young on November 11th, the day we celebrate the life of Catherine McAuley.
Eucharist was celebrated in the chapel of the founding house in Goulburn by Archbishops Mark Coleridge and Francis Carroll, Bishop Pat Power, Fathers Michael Lim and Laurie Bent. The life and work of the sisters within, particularly, the dioceses of Canberra-Goulburn and Wagga Wagga, and beyond to other areas in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and, of recent years, parts of Africa was remembered with gratitude by Archbishop Mark.
In Young the Eucharist was led by Fr Richard Thompson and the sisters were later joined by Fr Joseph Punnakunnel MSL in the celebrations at dinner under the marquee in Mount St Joseph’s grounds.
Marie Duffy rsm, Congregation leader, reminded us of the wonderful contribution sisters had made in the areas of education, health, disability, social and parish work over the years and thanked the present sisters for their commitment to “mercy” throughout their lives. She also encouraged us to continue faithfully into the challenges offered as we embrace the new Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Anne’s House – Mercy Centre Lavington NSW
Perhaps in a move typical of the daughters of the resilient Catherine McAuley, simultaneously as we bring to a close the formal structures of the Goulburn Congregation, an extension of one of our ministries is being opened up.
Anne’s House is the name being given to the newly renovated administration facilities of Mercy Centre, Lavington. This is an organisation, sponsored by the Goulburn Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, which specialises in providing services to those who are in greatest need and who often exist on the fringes of society. In reality this translates to people who exhibit challenging behaviour, people from an Aboriginal background, people with a psychiatric illness, homeless people and people with other high support needs.
In some ways this new venture mirrors the evolving life of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Anne’s House, when known as St John’s, started out in 1882 as a centre in which the sisters could provide care for poor and destitute children, which functioned as a school, boarding school and orphanage. In 1978 when the sisters moved their ministry into smaller cottages St John’s was given over to the Mother of God Brothers as a home for men with a disability, and under the sponsorship of the Bishop of Wagga Wagga. Now the buildings have gone full cycle and Mercy Centre has reopened its doors in Anne’s House for the administration of its services.
The name Anne’s House commemorates the founding Sisters of Mercy to Albury, in the person of the “Lady Superior”, Mother Mary Ignatius Murphy whose baptismal name was Frances Anne and who had liked to be called Anne. She had been a driving force in establishing the home for poor and destitute children of the time.
It was fitting that Fr John Frauenfelder presided over the Eucharist at the opening, since it was his great grandfather, John Peter Frauenfelder, who gave the land on which the house was established all those years ago. We are also grateful to Frs Paul Hart and John Fowles CSS for their assistance at the Eucharist.
In the first reading we were reminded of the words of the Prophet Jeremiah in his story of the potter. Just as spoiled and unspoiled clay are placed into the hands of the potter to mould a new vessel, we asked at this Eucharist that the potter might rework and refashion the deeds both good and bad which are part of the story at this house, and cause them to be transformed and to transform into a new vessel – for the kingdom.
Congratulations to the Board of Mercy Centre and to Patricia Weekes rsm and the staff and clients on this wonderful achievement.