A New Way of Providing Mercy Service

I realise that Mercy Service is carried out in a variety of ways, across all levels in secondary education in Mercy schools and colleges. What I have seen and been part of at times in Mercy Service at Santa Maria College, has been quite outstanding and inspirational. However, my biggest surprise was this year, with some of the Year 12 students and a new approach to Mercy Service.

Throughout 2021, Home Economics Teacher, Joanne McBride, has asked me to speak to a small group of Year 12s as part of the Children, Family, and the Community class on such topics as Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and Advocacy. Imagine my surprise when one of the girls from this group sent me an email and asked me if there was anything the girls could do to support me when I teach refugees and asylum seekers at Mirrabooka on Fridays.

What a wonderful surprise this was for me, but I was very conscious of the fact that these girls were just about to complete Year 12!  I thought the girls might have at least one story to share about their experiences at Santa Maria. I suggested choosing a short story and writing a few comprehension questions; choose some sentences from the story and ask that these sentences be turned into negative and positive sentences. Then asked the girls to choose some sentences so that the Mirrabooka students can change the sentences into Yes/No questions, WH questions (who, what, where) and TAG questions (a statement followed by a mini question, eg it’s warm today, isn’t it?).   

A couple of weeks later I received 18 copies of this most beautiful booklet for my intermediate class (there could be eight or nine different cultures in this class) at Mirrabooka. The booklet is beautifully presented, and I look forward to using it in my intermediate class in the new year! Congratulations and thank you to these girls. What a wonderful creative way to give Mercy Service.  I have also received five wonderful stories through Dean of Year 8 students, Tania Hicks, and the Year 8 Students.

I have been going to the Edmund Rice Centre in Mirrabooka as a volunteer for the past 10 years to teach English to refugees and asylum seekers. I teach two classes: an intermediate class and a conversation class.  The experience is at times hard work, draining, exciting and very rewarding. Why do I do this Mercy Service? I do it because I want these refugees and asylum seekers to be able to speak for themselves in many different situations in life in a new country.

Some of the countries represented in my classes over the years have been: Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Eritrea (South Africa), Iran, Iraq, Macedonia, Myanmar, Peru, Somalia, South Sudan, Thailand, Vietnam and a number of African countries. What a great privilege it has been for me to experience people from all these countries.

My challenge for the readers of this article is to find all these countries on a world map!

Sister Breda O’Reilly

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