Happy Mercy Day – Jennifer Oaten
Today is Mercy Day, a day when we pay tribute to the hard work, commitment, and devotion of the Sisters and people of Mercy. Mercy Day is a celebration of our charism and rich heritage. It is a time to reflect on how fortunate we are to have such wonderful facilities and opportunities compared to many girls around the world.
The Mercy tradition began with the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley. She devoted her life to the poor, sick, and uneducated. On 24 September 1827, she opened the House of Mercy on Baggot Street, Dublin to provide shelter and educate disadvantaged women and children. Catherine showed great dedication to living out the Gospel values and, through her legacy, continues to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people today.
This year we also celebrate the 175th anniversary of Ursula Frayne and the Sisters’ arrival in the Swan River colony. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Fremantle on 7 January 1846 and on 2 February opened the first Mercy School in Australia in a rented cottage on St George’s Terrace.
Mercy is an expression of our love for those in our community who are marginalised. It is living out the Gospel values, which promote the dignity and worth of all human beings. To be a person of Mercy means to be ready to be kind and forgiving to everyone. It means welcoming others, looking out for others in need and, where possible, doing something about it. It can be easy to get caught up in the many demands of day-to-day living and to lose sight of the needs of others globally and locally, but as Catherine McAuley said, “The poor need our help today, not next week.”
Who are we supporting today?
We support the marginalised throughout the year by raising awareness, fundraising and advocacy, through our many service programs and social justice groups. Funds raised at Mercy Day 2021 will go to Mercy Works, a very worthy organisation that assists vulnerable Australians.
The Mercy Works programs which the College has chosen to support in 2021 are:
- The ‘Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation’, a childcare project focussing on helping young mums handle motherhood in the areas of mental health and self-confidence.
- The ‘Prospering After Prison’ project, a support network for Indigenous women to help build financial and personal resilience in life after prison.
- The ‘Mercy Connect’ program supports in-school mentoring for refugee students.
What does our Mercy Day celebration look like?
Mercy Day started with a whole school Mass focussing on 175 years of Mercy and the extraordinary courage shown by the Sisters of Mercy. Mass was celebrated by Father Dan; his message encouraged us to connect with family, show Mercy to others and deepen our connection with God. The choir led the beautiful singing, which the eleven Sisters of Mercy, who joined us for Mass, greatly appreciated.
Letters were read by Years 5 and 6 students expressing how grateful they were to the Sisters for establishing who we are today. Many of the sisters were very moved by these authentic, thoughtful letters.
It was also lovely to present our inaugural Project of Mercy Grant created to enable alumni to implement a Mercy project to a disadvantaged group within our community. Catherine Kolmyjec from the Class of 1986 received the $5000 for the Periscope Crew project.
The Sisters enjoyed morning tea and were treated to a Year 5 performance encompassing our history, songs and dances about the arrival of the early Sisters. They also loved having photos with the ‘Sisters’ from Year 5.
After Mass, in Homeroom groups, students participated in an activity that enabled them to reflect on what Mercy looks like, feels like and sounds like. They wrote these on shamrocks which were then collated for each Year group.
Mercy Day Assembly
The Mercy Day Assembly acknowledged the achievements of Year 12 students who received Colours this year. The Student Leadership Council was recognised for their energy, creativity, and compassion during their leadership journey. House Captains were invited to the stage as we shared the results of Public Speaking, and the much-anticipated winner of the McAuley Shield was announced. Kelly House took out the honour for 2021.
Head Girl, Stella Hammond delivered a powerful, final speech to the whole College where she shared her journey, acknowledging those who worked alongside her and those who supported the Year 12 cohort. An excellent message Stella shared was that we should value others for being unique and that we should not wait for the time to come but embrace all opportunities now!
Mercy Day Stalls
There were many creative fundraising stalls, lots of laughter, and happy faces. One of the afternoon’s highlights was the staff vs student soccer match: such energy, a sense of community and many funds raised to support those in need.
Happy Mercy Day!