The Year of All Hallows’ (May 2005 – May 2006)
The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Brisbane, Queensland on May 10, 1861 and have lived in and ministered from the current site of All Hallows’ Convent since November 1863. The original cottage, Adderton, has been extended over the years to the stage where it could and did accommodate approximately 140 Sisters.
However, times have changed and the All Hallows’ site – which also includes a school for 1300 girls – has become part of an increasingly busy city precinct and consequently less suitable for the small number of Sisters who form the current community. Hence the decision was taken that the Sisters should move from All Hallows’ Convent during 2006 into other more suitable accommodation, leaving the gracious old building for use by the school.
Since it was envisaged that the year 2005 would be the last full year we would have Sisters living at the Convent, the Congregation team proclaimed 2005 The Year of All Hallows’, setting aside time in which “to celebrate our history; to tell our stories; to remember the people, events and places of significance and to ritualize our letting go.”
Since it is customary for us to celebrate the Jubilees of our Sisters each year on the Second Sunday of Easter, this was the first event to take place, soon to be followed by other events to mark the Year which in effect grew to become The Year of All Hallows’ May 2005 – May 2006.
Ascension Day, May 8, 2005 saw us gather in the beautiful Chapel that holds so many memories for us in order to remember our beginnings. This celebration took the form of a Missa Cantata, incorporating also some of the beautiful Latin motets composed by Sisters of the Congregation in earlier days and sung by a choir of some 40 Sisters. The usual “cup of tea” followed.
September 23 saw us gather in the Chapel once more to celebrate our musical heritage in a Sacred Concert entitled Hymns of Our Heritage. We invited past members of the Congregation to join with current members to form a choir of approximately 50 “mature voices” which along with The Sister Mary CÃ©line Chorale, formed by students of All Hallows’ School, performed the hymns of yesteryear, some Latin, some English. This concert was recorded live and a CD entitled Voices of Mercy singing Hymns of Our Heritage was produced, featuring some 30 titles on 13 tracks.
All Hallows Convent
Meanwhile, Mercy Heritage Centre, which occupies the former refectory of the convent, featured the history of the All Hallows’ site in an exhibition. entitled By the Bend of the River: Scenes from All Hallows’ 1858-2005. The All Hallows’ local community invited every Sister of the Congregation to come in small groups to share afternoon/morning tea and their memories of All Hallows’ Convent. Each of these gatherings has been recorded and the memories of many committed to writing. These gatherings took place throughout the entire year.
Having celebrated our annual Advent ritual in December 2005 in All Hallows’ Chapel and then our annual Jubilee celebrations in April 2006, we prepared to celebrate the end of the official Year of All Hallows’ on May 7, 2006. Again we gathered to share Eucharist and to remember our heritage and those who have gone before us and to look forward in faith and hope to our future. As a memento of the Year, Sister Sandra Lupi, Congregation Leader formally presented to Sister Rita Huxley, local leader of All Hallows’ community, and to Sister Catherine Cavanagh, who has been resident at the Convent for over fifty-nine years, the first two specially struck medal/keyrings featuring Adderton, the original Convent building.
These mementoes were given to all the Sisters of the Congregation as a souvenir of The Year of All Hallows’. As has been customary over many many years, we then gathered in the Convent dining room, community room and surrounds to enjoy the hospitality of the Sisters of All Hallows’, a cup of tea and much talk and laughter.
Messages to: Elizabeth O’Keeffe RSM, Congregation Secretary Email: firstname.lastname@example.org