This traditional Aboriginal artwork aptly name, The Journey, marked the beginning of the transfer ceremony. The procession continued carrying Parramatta River water and candles to the ‘Come, Sit Awhile’ Sculpture of Catherine McAuley. Here the story of Catherine McAuley was retold, a candle gifted to the Parramatta Sisters by the Callan Community was lit and small rocks painted by OLMC students were distributed to the Sisters of Mercy in attendance.
After adding water from the ‘Rill’ (a small watercourse in the back garden of Mercy International Centre) to the Parramatta River water, it was carried with the Callan candle to the Mother Mary Clare Dunphy Memorial Chapel. Here the founding st, ory of the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy was shared. Mary Louise Petro also shared the journey to the transfer of ownership to Mercy Partners, “We have come to this wonderful place, this new life for OLMC with Mercy Partners and we are delighted! We can sing that our souls in fact are joyful. Even though we know we have tears of sadness, and we all recognise those, it is a wonderful space to be, to be so sure that OLMC has found the best home. A home that is welcoming of us as well and a realisation we are giving over nothing except having to do the work and we are now the grandmothers who enjoy OLMC as it journeys into the future.”
The final element of the ritual was a procession to the Mercy Tree where water from the Brisbane River joined the blended waters from the Parramatta River and ‘The Rill’, Mercy International, Dublin and the formal transfer proceedings began.
In her address, Kerrie Walshaw, OLMC Board Chair said, “Today, we are sharing in a part of OLMC’s rich journey.
“Our short walk through the college and convent grounds have told the stories of the paths we have travelled.
“As you have heard already, in 1889 OLMC was founded by our brave sisters who travelled from Callan Ireland. Since that time for 133 years OLMC has been on its own journey.
“Now in 2022 we are reaching another major milestone with the canonical sponsorship of OLMC transferring from our beloved Sisters to Mercy Partners.”
In her address, Ricki Jeffery, Chairperson, Mercy Partners Council, noted, “It has been a privilege to hear the story of this sacred place, of this school and of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy here in Parramatta, enacted through the words, prayers, song and actions of this ritual.”
“It is humbling in so many ways to be stepping onto such a well-worn path of mercy, to be receiving in trust this college which has been such an important ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, to be part of the ‘Muru Ba’ – the future pathway.”
The final ritual included the pouring of the onto the Mercy Tree by Lucie Farrugia (Principal OLMC), Maria Lawton rsm (Congregation Vicar, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta), and Kieran McCarthy (Deputy Chair and Company Secretary, Mercy Partners).
Congregation Leader, Mary Louise Petro rsm, concluded the official proceedings with the presentation of hand carved walnut bowls to the College, the congregation and Mercy partners. The walnut tree is a rich symbol from the life of Catherine McAuley and the bowls are a wonderful link between all stages of the journey.
As Mary Louise Petro rsm said, “We decided what would be a nice thing to do was to have something that came from the OLMC walnut tree and the thread that went all the way back to Catherine McAuley sitting beneath the walnut tree and discerning her future and for the future of those who were poor and vulnerable.”