Opening and Blessing of Mercy Heritage Centre 'Works of Mercy' Exhibition - 16 August 2012
Good evening and welcome.
A very special welcome to you Archbishop Mark to your first official gathering with the Brisbane Sisters of Mercy and our lay colleagues and Partners in ministry.
Welcome to Brisbane – welcome to All Hallows’
It is most fitting that you join with us in the blessing and opening of Stage 3 of our Mercy Heritage Centre exhibition “Works of Mercy “ for it was the invitation of the first Bishop of Queensland, Bishop James Quinn that brought the Sisters of Mercy to Brisbane and where they first established works of Mercy.
We know the story -told so many times in our 150 year celebrations of 2011 - of how Mother Vincent Whitty longed to serve God as a missionary. Within a month of their landing in the colony, the sisters were visiting the poor and sick in their homes, had opened a school and had permission to visit the government hospital.
The purpose of Mercy Heritage Centre and in particular this exhibition is to inspire all of us to continue the works of Mercy. As you walk around and see and read accounts of mercy ministry ponder for a moment the faith, the courage, the creativity of our sisters and lay colleagues from 1861 - to this present day.
A centre such as this allows us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Sisters of Mercy’s heritage and to reflect on how the spirit of Catherine and Vincent Whitty is being and can be reinterpreted in our day. What are the cries of the “suffering world” that Catherine McAuley and Vincent Whitty would hear today? When have the spiritual and corporal works of mercy been more needed?
Congratulations to Mr. Peter Connell Director of Mercy Heritage Centre and his staff, to the former management committee and Ms Lisa Eastment Chair and members of the Governing Board. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sr Catherine Reuter and Ms Liz Orupold Executive officer of Mercy Ministries, for leading the preparation of tonight’s celebration.
To you our partners in ministry I want to say a few words: We have let go and surrendered much of our “hands on” ministry in our institutional ministries to you through - our Executive Officers and their staff, our Boards of Governance and soon to Mercy Partners.
We ask you to remain grounded in God’s mission of mercy expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus.
We know you are committed to the integrity of these works of mercy as they change and respond to the needs of today. We encourage you to continue to develop an integrated spirituality and a passionate concern for the poor and marginalized.
To the Sisters of Mercy : we have had the challenge and the pain of letting go cherished works or roles but we can be confident that our openness to change, our trust in God and our lay partners allows us the freedom to do mercy in new ways.
Like Catherine McAuley who established her house of Mercy in Baggot Street among the wealthy we can take the opportunity through our Mercy Advocacy project to bring the human face of suffering into the vision and consciousness of our society. We can in a myriad of ways challenge ourselves and others to share resources, to open our country and our hearts to the “suffering poor” of today’s world.
Catherine’s words of encouragement are true for all of us as they were for her early followers: “We ought to have great confidence in God in the discharge of all these works of Mercy spiritual and corporal which constitute the business of our lives”.