Archived News Item

Goulburn sisters farewell Griffith, NSW

After an 85-year presence in the NSW town of Griffith, the ministry of the Goulburn Sisters of Mercy will draw to a close at the end of 2006. To acknowledge this significant milestone, 26 sisters gathered on the weekend of November 25-26 to farewell the Griffith community.


Mercy Sisters arrived in Griffith from Albury in 1921. We have always treasured our time in this thriving town in the west of New South Wales. Griffith developed through many stages: as farming land in its early period; then as a soldier settlement; and later as part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. In this latter stage, it has been home to many families from other parts of the world, particularly from Italy.


From the 1950s we worked along side the Marist Brothers of the Southern Province until their withdrawal at the end of 1992. We maintained our separate schools up until the late 1960s, when, in stages, we were to establish co-educational primary and secondary schools with the Marist Brothers.


Bishop Gerard Hanna of the Wagga Wagga Diocese, Father Michael Mikulek and Father Raphael Beltrame presided at the Eucharist of Thanksgiving, celebrated on the Saturday evening. Bishop Hanna expressed his thanks and appreciation to the sisters for their 85 years of service to the Wagga Wagga Diocese in the Parish of Griffith.


Among those who were at the farewell events were nine sisters who had entered the Goulburn Congregation from Griffith. They were: Sisters Eileen Savage, Gabrielle Maree Owen, Kathleen Keenan, Tricia Johnson, Theresa Foley, Kathleen Cudmore, Barbara Murray, John Keenan and Rita Savage. Unfortunately, two of the sisters from this group, Sister Ellen Higgins and Jean Murray, were unable to be present.


The Sisters of Mercy, through Sister Marie Duffy (Congregation Leader), presented the parish with a plaque commemorating the women from Griffith who had become Sisters of Mercy, and those sisters who had lived and worked in Griffith. In return, the parish gave the sisters a commemorative crystal vase.


The celebrations ended with morning tea on the Sunday in the “˜old’ convent, now part of the primary school administration buildings. Most of this time was spent in telling stories and getting photos taken in “˜old’ bedrooms. A highlight, however, was the singing of the “Suscipe”. From all corners of the house – upstairs and downstairs – the sisters joined in the singing, joyfully celebrating the past and praying for the future, all with a touch of sadness.


From: Sister Shirley Garland RSM (Local Communications Facilitator)