Friday 8 May marked a significant day in the story of the Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation. The Mater Convent was damaged by storms in November 2014, and can no longer be a residence for Sisters. The Sisters were invited by Mater Health Services to a Ritual to acknowledge the closure of the Convent as a residence for the Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation, and many sisters were able to be present. Together with current and past staff of Mater Health Services, they gathered to remember and give thanks for ‘The Grace of this Place’, for the gift of God’s Mercy made visible through the Sisters who formed a Community of Mercy on Mater Hill across its one hundred and nine year history. The Ritual, prepared by Barbara Donoghue rsm and Maria Sullivan rsm, gathered reflection around three snap-shots of Mercy Community Life – Pioneers, Risk-takers, innovators, leaders and Compassionate presence. During the Litany of Transition, sisters who formed the most recent Community prayed “Encourage us to take risks, replacing the known with the richness of fresh and new experiences ……Guide us along paths that we never dared take, giving us courage and hope for new life”. All Sisters of Mercy present proclaimed “God of change and transformation, be the ground on which we walk. Be the heart from which we talk. Be the breath that heals, restores and blesses us as we go”. The door of the Convent was then closed and the key handed to Mr Brian Flannery, Chair of Mater Health Services Board. A candle, symbol of God’s Light, Love and Peace was then passed and carried within the assembled community.
There was much renewing of friendships and storytelling as all gathered for morning tea on the lawn in front of Augbiny Place. Mass was celebrated in the Convent Chapel at midday by the Hospital Chaplains Fr John Barlow and Fr Fadi Salame. The gathering was tinged with a sadness, especially for those for whom Mater and the presence of the Sisters has been such a part of their lives. In the words of Mr Brian Flannery when he accepted the key to the Convent building “May Mater continue creating new hope, new joy, new vision, celebrating and sharing God’s mercy and compassion, caring for others and alleviating suffering”.