The Sisters of Charity of Australia opened their Heritage Centre, an exhibition space and archive in Potts Point, Sydney on June 6.
It was launched by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP. The Heritage Centre has been designed as a place to provide connection to the history and charism of the Sisters of Charity.
“The Heritage Centre is designed to tell the story of the Sisters and the work they have done since arriving in Australia 180 years ago. The Heritage Centre celebrates the Sisters of Charity story and that of religious women,” said Sr Clare Nolan, the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.
The Centre showcases the significant contribution and achievements of the Congregation since the arrival of the five pioneer Sisters in Sydney in 1838.
The Centre also includes a meeting room and contemplative spaces including the St Vincent’s Chapel and courtyard.
In 1836, Sydney’s Catholic Bishop, John Bede Polding, requested help from the Church to alleviate the dire circumstances of female convicts. Five Religious Sisters of Charity from Ireland responded to the call, and embarked on the journey to Sydney. Those five Sisters formed the nucleus of the Congregation now known as The Sisters of Charity of Australia.
The Sisters sailed into Sydney on New Year’s Eve in 1838 and quickly saw they were needed at the Female Factory, Parramatta, in education and health care. Since that time, the Sisters have continued to read the signs of the times, and to respond to need not only in education, health, and aged care, but also in social welfare and social justice.
Founding many schools and hospitals across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, the work of the Sisters of Charity has been nothing short of remarkable. Today, the established ministries of the Sisters of Charity continue under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries.
However, Sisters continue to be active in many fields, including for example: Sister Suzette Clark, an advocate for social justice; Sister Jacinta Fong at St Vincent’s ER who has an uncanny knack of being able to calm down the distressed and those with addictions; from a House of Hospitality on the Darlinghurst Campus of St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney Sister Clare Nolan and Sister Deirdre Hickey minister to families of patients being cared for in the hospital. Sister Cathy Meese is a pastoral carer in Prison Ministry in Melbourne; Sister Margaret Guy is with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Parramatta; Sister Jan O’Grady, through Open Support and Country Care Link at St Vincent’s Clinic, Sydney provides transport services to those in remote rural communities across NSW who need to come to Sydney for specialist treatment. Srs Anne Mayberry and Christine Henry minister in the bush with Remote and Rural, and Downs and West Community Support.
The Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre provides an exhibition space, the Congregational Archives of the Sisters of Charity of Australia and an experiential display of key elements of the life and work of the Sisters of Charity in Australia.
Read an account of the opening in the Australian Catholic Weekly HERE.
Here is the video of the Opening Liturgy: