The Mercy Tree is a social justice initiative of OLMC Parramatta where a symbolic tree was planted and blessed in early 2012. It symbolises the growth of the commitment to Mercy Values in the students at OLMC and our broader community. Part of the donations to the Mercy Tree Gift Fund are given to charitable causes nominated by the fund’s trustee. The remainder is invested to provide a secure and ongoing revenue stream to support social justice programs.
In 2016, the Year of Mercy, as proclaimed by Pope Francis, you have the chance to make a difference to vulnerable people by supporting services that foster positive mental health and wellbeing. The 2016 Mercy Tree cause, nominated by Mercy Girls, is Jesuit Social Services - a social change organisation with a vision of building a just society by working with those most in need to make a real, sustainable difference. The organisation was chosen by Year 10 Mercy Girls Andrea Fok, Olivia Murillo and Jasmine Bautista.
As a part of the Year 10 Religious Education Program, students completed the Living Simply Unit Assessment Task, which required them to research and develop a presentation based on the Christian Scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching about a charitable organisation that meets the requirements of the Mercy Tree Gift Fund and who could be the 2015/16 recipient.
Through a range of programs, Jesuit Social Services
helps people through difficult periods of their life and focuses on engaging them to reach their potential. Their hands-on work in this space includes counselling, outreach support, assistance with education and training and therapeutic outdoor activities. In the past year, Jesuit Social Services have provided intensive support to 730 people affected by complex mental health problems and offered information, referrals and general support to more than 60,000 others seeking help.
OLMC Parramatta Principal Stephen Walsh says the Mercy Tree takes on particularly special meaning in the Year of Mercy; “The Mercy Tree is a practical way that we can heed Pope Francis’ call to open the Doors of Mercy. Through past Mercy Tree appeals, doors have been opened to people with disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers as well as young Aboriginal mums and this year we have the chance to help vulnerable people achieve positive mental health. The Sisters of Mercy and the OLMC community are passionate about doing what we can to assist organisations who work with the most vulnerable.”
Last year, the Jesuit Refugee Service's Arrupe Place in Parramatta received $7000 from the Mercy Tree . Arrupe Place provides a range of services to refugees and asylum seekers living in Western Sydney, including food vouchers, computer use, casework services, general information and referrals, financial assistance and social support activities. It is located in Coolock Cottage (donated by the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta to JRS for the their use), next to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy and opened in early 2015. Arrupe Place is part of a broader JRS Shelter Project which responds to the needs of the growing number of asylum seekers facing financial destitution and homelessness by providing temporary accommodation, financial support, and casework services.
Another cause that has been assisted through the Mercy Tree is Strong Young Mums, a program of Catholic Mission aimed at helping young Aboriginal mums develop skills to lead strong, independent lives. The women and children who are assisted by the program often face multiple disadvantages including unemployment, geographic and social isolation, low family income, drug and alcohol abuse and domestic violence. The program provides education opportunities and employment readiness skills, helping to improve their self-confidence and break the cycle of disadvantage. It includes art, creativity and self-empowerment workshops, parent education and TAFE classes and regular work readiness training. Catholic Mission was put forward by Year 10 student Jasmine Yiamkiati, to be considered as a beneficiary of Mercy Tree fundraising
Mercy Tree Donors also helped bring some magic to people with disabilities. $3,500.00 was donated to the Mamre Magic program. Mamre Magic activity days, held at Mamre House, give people with disabilities the chance to experience new things, make choices, explore and identify interests while building confidence. Activities include scone making, pot painting, circus skills, Zumba, Segway rides and lots more. Students from local high schools join up to 50 people with disabilities for these days of shared learning and lots of fun. The funds will be used to purchase a new marquee to allow programs to continue irrespective of weather conditions.
Mercy Tree Donors have helped give independence and dignity to women in need. $3,500.00 was donated to St Michael's Family Centre's Supported Accommodation Program. The Supported Accommodation Program at St Michael's Family Centre Baulkham Hills is a short to medium term accommodation service for women and children who are homeless and/or at risk, most often due to domestic and family violence. The program offers accommodation for a period of three to six months. When they move out of St Michael's into independent living, they need basic whitegoods and these funds will be used to purchase these.
To see a list of donors to the Mercy Tree for the Year ending 30 June 2014, please click here
To see a list of donors to the Mercy Tree for the Year ended 30 June 2013, please click here
To see a list of donors to the Mercy Tree for the year ended 30 June 2012 please click here
To see the financial statements for the Mercy Tree for the Year ended 30 June 2014, please click here
To see the financial statements for the Mercy Tree for the Year ended 30 June 2013, please click here
Thank you for your support,
Sister Catherine Ryan RSM
Congregation Leader and Patron of the Mercy Tree Gift Fund
Principal, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta