Posted on 15 April
Social worker Ann O’Brien was announced as the 2015 Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta Catherine McAuley Alumnae Award recipient at a special assembly at the College on 15 March 2016.
Currently the Director of Marriage Support and Specialist Services at CatholicCare Social Services in the Diocese of Parramatta, Ann has devoted herself to the service of others throughout her 30-year career as a social worker.
OLMC’s Principal, Stephen Walsh, said Ann embodied the College’s Mercy qualities. “In particular, she has shown great compassion and caring throughout her life and work.
“Ann has practised her Catholic faith as a disciple of Jesus, including by being very involved in her local parish community. She has served those who are marginalised, vulnerable and in need of support. Ann has followed in the footsteps of the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, by living out our Mercy values.”
Growing up in North Parramatta, Ann attended St Monica’s Primary School before coming to OLMC Parramatta. She was head girl at the college and completed her HSC in 1972. She then went on to study a Bachelor of Social Studies at the University of Sydney where she majored in Social Work.
Ann’s first job was at the Royal Children’s Hospital at Camperdown, which gave her a solid grounding in paediatric health and the vital importance of a loving and stable family for children. She then moved to Parramatta Psychiatric Centre where she provided care and assistance to patients suffering from mental illness.
Her next roles were with Centacare as a generalist social worker and counsellor and with the Department of Community Services in the areas of Adoption and Permanent Care. In 2008, she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Catholic Identity and Leadership at Australian Catholic University.
Ann recalls that during her time at OLMC, there was both a spoken and unspoken expectation that you would grasp every opportunity given to you. Education was to be cherished and, as women, we could aspire to anything that we were prepared to work towards.
“OLMC was a place to learn, to be nurtured, to know that God loved us and to understand that whatever gifts we had been given, we had the power to use these in many different ways, especially by bringing love and care to others.
“I’m a Mercy Girl and I continue to draw on what formed me through my Mercy education. This includes the importance of compassion and caring, positivity and hope, charity, responsibility, acceptance, leadership and team work skills, discipline and clear boundaries.
“I will always remember that, as a woman, I have immense possibilities to influence through everything that comes from me – my words, my actions, and my conduct.”
Introduced in 2009, the Catherine McAuley OLMC Parramatta Alumnae Award celebrates and acknowledges the great achievements of the OLMC Alumnae community.
Nominees are chosen based on a number of criteria such as commitment to social justice activities, personal, academic and professional achievement, leadership, innovation and creativity, community involvement and contribution to Mercy/Christian based activities.