Celebrating Our Mercy Heritage – Jennifer Oaten

As the Principal of Santa Maria College, I am delighted to share with you the joy our annual Mercy Day celebrations bring to our community. This much-anticipated event brings our community together to celebrate Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy and the story of how Mercy impacts the world today through schools, hospitals, aged care and community service organisations.

What does it mean to be a person of Mercy?

Being a person of Mercy means showing kindness and forgiveness towards all. It involves warmly welcoming and offering assistance to those in need and taking action where possible. Whether it is a helping hand, a listening ear, or a compassionate heart, individuals with a spirit of Mercy strive to make a positive impact in the lives of others. As Catherine McAuley said, “The poor require our help today, not next week.” Let us remember that each act of kindness, no matter how small, has the power to create a ripple effect of compassion and bring joy to others.

Reflecting on our heritage

Mercy Day is not only a day for celebration but also a moment for deep reflection on our heritage. The Mercy tradition traces back to the remarkable Catherine McAuley, a visionary who, in 1827, established the House of Mercy in Dublin. This noble establishment aimed to provide shelter, education, and hope to countless disadvantaged women and children who had been overlooked by society.

It is a time to pay tribute and express our deepest gratitude to the remarkable Sisters of Mercy, whose selfless dedication and unwavering commitment has impacted countless lives. Their unwavering spirit continues to resonate and guide us as we strive to create a more compassionate and just world for all.

We also pay tribute to the hard work, commitment and devotion of the Sisters and people of Mercy for what has been achieved over the past 85 years here at Santa Maria College. It is a day to recognise our rich heritage and to reflect on how fortunate we are to have so many opportunities compared to many girls around the world.

Who was Catherine McAuley?


  • was our foundress who established the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin.
  • showed great courage and was brave, such as when she established the House of Mercy for the poor and homeless in a wealthy area of Dublin.
  • went out into the community with her fellow sisters and cared for others, so they became known as “The Walking Nuns”.
  • identified talented young women as future leaders and showed great trust in them, enabling young sisters to set up new foundations of Mercy across Ireland and the world.
  • always showed kindness and compassion to all she met each day, particularly the sick and vulnerable.
  • listened to others when they were troubled or needed advice.

Who are we supporting?

This year, we are proud to support three charities: local, national, and international organisations that make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.

  1. In Perth, we are supporting Mercy Connect. This initiative trains and supports volunteers to assist individuals seeking asylum and students and adults from humanitarian backgrounds during crucial times.
  2. Our national project is Nunga Babies Watch, a grassroots movement that advocates for First Nations communities. This project provides practical support to vulnerable Aboriginal families facing the possibility of having their children removed.
  3. We selected the Teresa Orsini Maternity Clinic in Timor-Leste for our international project. By raising funds as a community, we aim to improve the lives of women and babies in Maucatar, a remote and impoverished area in the mountains of Timor-Leste.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

More details on these organisations can be found HERE.

Mercy Day began with Mass with Sisters for Mercy joining us for the celebration of the Eucharist. The Mass serves as an opportunity for us to come together in prayer and reflect and remember the merciful spirit of Sister Catherine McAuley.

Our Assembly honoured our Year 12 students, the Student Leadership Council, for their remarkable contributions to our community and those students receiving colours. This was the College’s final whole school opportunity to recognise the vibrant spirit of the graduating cohort and wish them well on their journey. Our Head Girl, Nishi, delivered an inspiring speech and all Year 12 were recognised as they exited as House Groups.


The grand finale of the assembly was the highly anticipated announcement of the winner of the esteemed McAuley Shield. Heartfelt congratulations to Kelly House for emerging triumphantly as the recipients of the 2023 McAuley Shield.

Following Mass and our Assembly, students organised and participated in stalls and activities, all designed to raise funds for our chosen Mercy organisations.

As we eagerly anticipate the announcement of the funds raised, I express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to making this Mercy Day a success. It was truly an extraordinary community event that showcased our legacy, values and unwavering commitment to making a positive impact.

Happy Mercy Day to all!

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