The 2016 beneficiary of OLMC Parramatta’s Mercy Tree social justice initiative 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.
Planted and blessed in early 2012, the Mercy Tree is a focus for social justice activity at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta.
Standing more than 2m tall in the Brigid Shelley courtyard, its continued growth symbolises an ever-increasing commitment to the eight Mercy Values in the OLMC Parramatta community.
These values are Mercy, Compassion, Justice, Stewardship, Service, Hospitality, Excellence and Dignity.
The Principal of OLMC, Stephen Walsh, said that 2016 was especially important in the life of the Mercy Tree. “This coming year has been proclaimed by Pope Francis as the Year of Mercy: through our tree, we can help open the ‘Doors of Mercy’ to help empower vulnerable people by supporting services that foster positive mental health and wellbeing,” he said.
“Past Mercy Tree appeals have helped to open doors to people with disabilities, refugees and asylum seekers as well as young Aboriginal mums.
“The Sisters of Mercy and the OLMC community are passionate about doing what we can to assist organisations who work with the most vulnerable.”
Jesuit Social Services was chosen by Year 10 Mercy Girls Andrea Fok, Olivia Murillo and Jasmine Bautista as a part of a Year 10 Religious Education Assessment.
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 has 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.
Arrupe Place Parramatta received a $7000 cheque from students on behalf of the OLMC Mercy Tree Charity.
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 Jesuit Refugee Services for their use), next to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy.
Arrupe Place is part of a broader 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.