Archived News Item


170 Years in Australia

On Friday, January 9, 1846, the first Sisters of Mercy to come to Australia, Ursula Frayne and her six companions, sailed up the Swan River from Fremantle to the young, struggling township which, in time, would become the modern, vibrant, multi-cultural city of Perth.

Recounting this day in her letter to the sisters back in Dublin, Ursula wrote “We had a most delightful sail …. The weather was glorious; a strong breeze tempered the heat of the burning sun, and filling our sails, propelled us along so smoothly that we hardly felt the motion. ……The scenery was charming, the river broad and winding. Nature here had an undivided empire; human industry had literally done nothing”.

On Saturday, January 9, 2016, exactly 170 years later, a large number of Sisters of Mercy, ‘descendants’ of the pioneer group, along with ‘mercy’ colleagues and friends, remembered that significant event by retracing the river journey. And as with Ursula’s historic trip, theirs too was delightful: glorious weather, a strong breeze tempering the heat, smooth sailing all the way.  And while the river banks declared that the days of nature’s ‘undivided empire’ are long past and that ‘human industry’ has indeed prevailed, the river itself remains as beautiful and dynamic as ever. 

The commemoration was really a celebration of all that the arrival of Ursula and the other six has come to mean, not only for the Sisters of Mercy, but for everyone associated with them and their various gospel Works of Mercy which have flourished throughout Australia since 1846. In telling again the story of the pioneer sisters, we who participated in the celebration on January 9 thanked God for their faith, vision, courage and generosity. We also so prayed with heartfelt gratitude for the generations of sisters and lay women and men who have followed them. Like Ursula, such people have been fired by the enduring inspiration of Catherine McAuley who founded the Order of Mercy in Dublin in 1831.They know both the call and the privilege of being agents of God’s mercy as they serve others, preferentially the most vulnerable, through education, health and aged care, pastoral support of diverse groups, prayer and worship, scholarship, and so on.

Sixty Years in Papua New Guinea

Many readers would know that one of the richest chapters in the Australian ‘Mercy’ story concerns the foundation of the Sisters of Mercy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1956. It could be said that, in its own way, the first mission of Australian Sisters of Mercy to PNG (Goroka) was as brave and risky an adventure of faith as was the first mission of the Irish sisters to Australia (Perth). Yet it too has grown and continues to mature through the grace of our God and the collaboration of many ‘mercy-minded’ women and men.

Sharing in the Jubilee Year of Mercy

These two anniversaries of mercy life and service, 170 years for Australia and 60 years for PNG resonate easily with the Jubilee year of Mercy initiated by Pope Francis. As Francis tells us about the Year of Mercy in Misericordiae Vultus, ‘Mercy is the force that awakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope’ (para 10).  And elsewhere he says ‘In mercy, we find proof of how God loves us’ (para 14).

Throughout this year, as Sisters of Mercy and their colleagues and friends continue to celebrate two important milestones in the mission with which our God of Mercy has entrusted them, may they be awakened to new life and instilled with courage and hope. And may they experience Gods merciful love deep in their hearts.

Photos: Travellers with retired Archbishop Barry Hickey (left)  On the way! (right)

Messages to Beverley Stott rsm and Caroline Ryan rsm.

Read more on the 170 years of Mercy presence HERE.



Archived News Item

Reason to Celebrate


In 2015, this Year of Consecrated Life proclaimed by Pope Francis,  there are a particularly large number of Sisters of Mercy, members of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, celebrating their Jubilee of Religious Profession.

There are 79 Jubilarians, 11% of the total membership of the Institute known as ISMAPNG – three Sisters celebrate 25 years (Silver Jubilee), three 40 years (Ruby Jubilee), twenty 50 years (Golden Jubilee), thirty seven  60 years (Diamond Jubilee) and fifteen 70 years (Platinum Jubilee). Together they have accumulated 4,485 years of dedicated love and service.

 In knowing God’s loving kindness, their gift has been to share it with others .The diversity of ministry and the breadth of involvement of these women in Church, State, community and society is breath taking.  A wide range of involvement has been provided in education, health care and social welfare in cities, country towns and rural communities; for others remote communities have called for a Mercy Presence and a number have responded to needs beyond Australia and Papua New Guinea to shores as diverse as Pakistan, Guyana, Vietnam, Christmas Island, Kenya and the Mercy International Centre in Dublin.

The levels of contributions have ranged from classroom teaching, parish pastoral associates, specialist nurses, welfare workers and pastoral carers in a variety of settings, to senior administrative positions in the Church, society and ministries, formation and internal leadership within the Sisters of Mercy, specialist consultants, to the invaluable role of homemakers, providing support for the Sisters who are out and about in their wide variety of ministries.

 The individual gifts and talents of these Sisters are extensive and they continue to respond generously, creatively and in multitudinous ways to the joys and the hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the People of God in the daily living of their own lives.
Congratulations and thanks to each one and praying special blessings on you in 2015!

Messages to: Julie O’Brien rsm