Sisters of Mercy Take A ChanceSix years ago the Sisters of Mercy took a risk. It was considered and planned, but a risk nonetheless. They decided to bring together Regina Coeli and Mercy Care to establish McAuley Community Services for Women. Regina Coeli became McAuley House and Mercy Care became McAuley Care.
The restructure wasn’t a shake up for the sake of change. It was a matter of survival and expansion into a specialist service that would continue the work first begun by the Sisters of Mercy in Australia more than 170 years ago. The current Board Treasurer, Sr Kath Tierney, was Congregational Leader at the time and said: “The two services were stand alone and we looked at how to strengthen them and allow for stronger governance and diversification. The best outcome was to make it the one strong organisation that could begin something new and I believe that has happened.”
“Before the amalgamation the two services were conducted using many volunteers. We sometimes had to close Mercy Care at the weekend because we couldn’t staff it. That would never happen now because we have wonderful paid staff, supported by amazing volunteers.”
McAuley House recently celebrated its sixth year of operation and it gave women, directly affected by homelessness, a chance to reflect on their association with McAuley Community Services for Women now and through the years. This is an extract from Gail’s story…..
“I first moved into Regina Coeli in 1990, which was the former name of McAuley House and was run by the Sisters of Mercy, who lived on site with us. A lot has changed since then, including renovations from dormitory style bedrooms to becoming the single bedrooms they are now…. I have seen many changes and improvements over the years to the building and the program.
I lived at Regina Coeli for 9 months, in that time my social worker found me housing which I moved into and have lived there for 18 years.
When I first moved here (McAuley House) I moved from difficult circumstances so I was very stressed and withdrawn and I was very grateful to be able to come and live here and get myself back together again. I felt very safe and secure here and the staff and the Sisters of Mercy and the residents all made an impact to help me heal and get well again.
I have also come for respite numerous times over the years when I have needed some extra support, this has been invaluable to help me stay healthy, and out of hospital.
Before Regina Coeli I had to go to hospital every year for ten years, but since being supported by Regina Coeli I have only been to hospital once in 23 years. I can honestly say that I don’t think I would have made it, if it wasn’t for Regina Coeli and the Sisters of Mercy and the support I received.
I have experienced a deeper sense of inner peace and freedom that I did not know I was going to have in my life before coming to McAuley House.
I feel truly blessed and forever grateful for all the support I have received. There is no place like McAuley House, who helps women needing a place to live and also supports them in such a caring and safe environment.
I think Catherine McAuley would be very proud of the work McAuley House has done for women over the years, and will continue to do so in the future.
Happy 6th anniversary to McAuley Community Services for Women.