The Mercy Tree is a social justice initiative of OLMC Parramatta based on a symbolic tree which 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 donated to support Mercy Works programs and the remainder is invested to provide a secure and ongoing revenue stream to support social justice programs.
This year, the OLMC community is invited to help make works of Mercy possible by supporting a new Mercy Works Project through the Mercy Tree.
is a new project of Mercy Works which aims to enable Indigenous primary school students living in rural Australia reach their potential. It will launch at the end of 2016 in the Sandhurst Diocese in Victoria and will see trained volunteers (mostly retired teachers) enter Catholic School classrooms to work with specifically selected students three hours per week for the entire school year.
OLMC Parramatta Principal Stephen Walsh says passionate educators know the value of education:
“At OLMC, we firmly believe education has the power to transform lives and destinies. Together as a nation, we need to do more to close the gap between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians, particularly in the areas of education and health. By supporting this new targeted education program, our community has the chance to live out our Mercy commitment to social justice by making a difference in the lives of many Indigenous children.”
This new project is based on the model used by the Mercy Connect program which see students of a refugee and asylum seeker background receive mentoring support by trained volunteers to help improve literacy and numeracy skills. The model has been adapted to the needs of Indigenous students.
Sister Ailsa Mackinnon, Executive Director of Mercy Works, says the new Mercy Access Program aims to help “Close the Gap” and increase school completion rates for Indigenous students: “It will provide the support that will help improve literacy and numeracy levels which can lead to better employment prospects and in turn stable families with fewer problems and an enhanced ability to sustain the Indigenous culture.”
The 2016 Mercy Tree cause, nominated by Mercy Girls, was 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. 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.
In 2015, 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.
In the past, other programs have been beneficiaries of Mercy Tree fundraising including Strong Young Mums, Mamre House Programs and St Michael’s Family Centre. Strong Young Mums was a program of Catholic Mission aimed at helping young Aboriginal mums develop skills to lead strong, independent lives. A donation of $3,500 was made to the Mamre Magic Program which aimed to bring some magic to people with disabilities through the Mamre Magic activity days. $5,000 has was also donated to Mamre House to purchase two tanks for rainwater harvesting to assist in farming operations. St Michael’s Family Centre at Baulkham Hills received a donation of $3,500 toward their Supported Accommodation Program which was 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.
Thank you for your support,
Donate to the Mercy Tree Gift Fund (via credit card)
Sister Catherine Ryan RSM
Congregation Leader and Patron of the Mercy Tree Gift Fund
Principal, Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta