Staff Conference


Australasian Mercy Secondary School Association (AMSSA) Staff Conference at All Hallows’ School Brisbane

Catherine McAuley had a dream. We have the privilege of knowing it. We have the responsibility to understand it. We have the duty to protect it. We have the honour to live it.
Moira McGuiness rsm   |   2010

‘Mercy in Liminal Times’ was the theme for the 2023 AMSSA staff conference which was attend by Ms Siobhan Bloomfield, Mr Michael Chesser and Ms Theresa Daunt. This three-day conference offered moments of reflection and contemplation exploring the concept of Mercy during transitional times. The word liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means ‘limit’ or ‘threshold’. The conference focused on what anthropologist Victor Turner describes as a time where we are “Betwixt and Between” – a time that is categorised as being between a space of comfort and a time of unknowing. Inspired by the story of Catherine McAuley, who brough her vision of Mercy to life during a time of profound liminality in Ireland, Catherine Okane, Principal, All Hallows’ School encouraged all attendees to “draw inspiration from our Mercy charism and open ourselves to new ways of living with ambiguity… embracing this opportunity for transformation and growth as a community of Mercy educators”.

Workshops provided attendees with the opportunities to discuss and explore a range of topics such as enriching Mercy charism, embedding Service Learning to bring about a transformational culture and the virtue of hospitality: an attitude of heart. Keynote speaker award winning journalist and author, Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri man, Stan Grant asked attendees to visualise liminality as being the space between the outreached hand of God and the tip of Adams’s finger as depicted in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. Attendees were challenged to reflect on this space between the outreached hand of God and humanity as a metaphor for the liminality that surrounds our schools and communities as we navigate global crises and complex social issues.

Conference attendees have returned to their respective Mercy school challenged with the task of initiating discussions about the liminal times that emerge ahead of us in and how we ensure that we continue to embed Catherine’s legacy in our school. We are forever inspired by Catherine’s story, how in a period of profound liminality she was able to seize an opportunity to foster change and offer support to a vulnerable community, may we be encouraged and guided by her spirit to continue to do the same.