Works of Mercy Commemorated in BathurstMarch 7, 2023
The Sisters of Mercy living in Bathurst had considered for some time commemorating the Works of Mercy in the Bathurst Diocese. In furthering this aim and in conjunction with her work on the Cathedral Renovation Committee, Ann-Maree O’Beirne RSM began a conversation with the Diocese and local sisters Paula Smith RSM and Patricia Powell RSM. The outcome of these negotiations and conversations was the unveiling on December 12 2022 of a beautiful sculpture of the Venerable Catherine McAuley and two large images of the former Convent, College and grounds.
The Sisters of Mercy arrived in the Bathurst Diocese in 1866, when seven sisters came from Charleville, Ireland at the request of the then Bishop Matthew Quinn to “engage in works of mercy”.
Originally a cloister joined St Mary’s Convent and College to the “nun’s chapel” at what is now known as “the cloister wall” of the Cathedral. This wall is all that remains of an impressive building, grounds and education ministry that served the Diocese for over 100 years.
The Institute commissioned Gael O’Leary to create the sculpture “Come Sit Awhile – Catherine in the Garden.” Situated by a much-walked pathway in front of the “cloister wall,” Catherine invites all who pass by to “Come sit awhile.” In the months since the sculpture was unveiled many have taken up the invitation.
Institute Leader, Eveline Crotty RSM formally gifted the sculpture and images at the unveiling and blessing presided over by Bishop Michael McKenna in the presence of a large gathering of sisters, mercy associates, past students, parishioners and members of the diocesan community.
Speaking in the Western Advocate, Bishop McKenna said that he was always keen that there would be suitable acknowledgement of the Sisters of Mercy in the recently renovated Cathedral precinct.
“The history of the Sisters of Mercy in this region is completely entwined with the history of the diocese. You can’t separate the two,” he said.