St Mary of the Angels Basilica, a beautiful church situated in the heart of Geelong, holds the history of the city deep within its walls. The stories of Geelongï¿½s people, from its pioneering squatters to its early Irish immigrants exist in the basilicaï¿½s foundations and are carried by the parish that attends the church today.
These stories were celebrated in a unique event presented by Mercy Place Rice Village as part of the Victorian Seniors Festival. ï¿½Come, Share Our Story in Songï¿½ was a community event led by renowned Celtic singer-songwriter, Maria Forde. As over 350 people from across the Barwon region gathered in the basilica on 19 October, Maria took the audience on a musical journey through the stories of Irish immigrants who made their way to Australia to establish new lives.
The Mercy story was also shared: from the founding of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland in 1831 to the first arrival of the Sisters in Geelong in 1860 to the residential aged and home care services now provided to the community by Mercy Health.
Many in the audience shared a tear as Maria sang of their struggles, their joys and their dreams of creating a new life in what was once a fairly rugged land. Reliving the inclement journey from Ireland to Australia, remembering the Great Depression and the determination to build a new community was a profound experience for many in the audience. Such is the power of sharing stories.
Sister Helen Monkivitch RSM AO, Mercy Healthï¿½s Executive Director Leadership and Mission, said of the experience, ï¿½It was wonderful to meet families and trace so many diverse histories. It makes it a richer experience for us to know someoneï¿½s life story and understand the moments, big and small, that make them who they are today. Itï¿½s a privilege for us to serve this community and make so many new friends.ï¿½
"Every person matters, every story counts".
Date Published: 18 December 2013
Our Voice, Summer 2013