Catherine and Gaby recently completed internship and fellowship programs with Mercy Global Action, the justice arm of Mercy International Association, while Isabel is heading to New York this month after being accepted as an intern for 2023-24.
Returning from Dublin, Ireland, where she graduated from the Mercy Emerging Leaders Fellowship, Gaby said the program had opened her eyes to the “vastness of the Mercy world and the connection that we share”.
The fellowship provides opportunities for 10 fellows to establish strong links and networking across the Mercy world through international encounters, webinars, online learning, mentorship and research.
Educated at St Aloysius College where she works as marketing and communications coordinator, Gaby said the connections she made were “incredibly enriching”.
“Being able to share what’s formed our unique perspectives, passions and leadership as well as experience immersions together in Cambodia, New York and Dublin has formed a very special bond,” she said.
Similarly, she was inspired by the women who were guest speakers including Winifred Doherty, a Good Shepherd Sister who has been a representative to the United Nations for more than 15 years. She presented to the fellows ahead of their immersion in New York in March where they attended the 67th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN headquarters.
“Seeing 8000 women from all over the world come together to share the realities of women’s lives, to promote women’s rights and the empowerment of all women and girls was a very powerful experience,” she said.
In July Gaby presented her research project ‘Learning Beyond Borders’ at Mercy International Centre, the first House of Mercy that was built by foundress Catherine McAuley and opened in 1827.
Her project included looking at barriers to education for displaced persons and will form the basis of a workshop for high schools that raises awareness of the issue.
Reflecting on the past 12 months, Gaby described it as a “transformative journey that has deepened my sense of what it is to lead with Mercy”.
Catherine, a Mercedes College old scholar, has spent the past 10 months on an internship with Mercy Global Action, which has an advisory role on the United Nations Environmental and Social Council. She will still be in New York when Isabel arrives this month to take up her placement and Isabel said she was looking forward to catching up with Catherine and being shown around by a “familiar face”.
The 22-year-old St Aloysius College old has been a member of Young Mercy Links since late 2018 and has been involved with refugees and asylum seekers through Circle of Friends. She also attended an overseas immersion to Cambodia which, she said, strengthened her bonds within the group and solidified its importance in her life.
After graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Arts Advanced degree at the end of 2021, she took on a part-time role of Program Support coordinator at Young Mercy Links.
Earlier, at one of her first Young Mercy Links meetings, Gaby handed her a flyer on the Mercy Global Action internship opportunities.
“I remember thinking, hold up, there are some pretty incredible opportunities within the Mercy world,” she said.
“From then on, the internship remained in the back of my mind.”
Isabel said her passion for social justice and professional aspirations had strengthened over time and led her to want to take her advocacy work “from a local to a global level and learn about the power of grassroots experiences in influencing international policy”.
“Ultimately, it was encouragement from Sr Meredith Evans and Gaby that led me to submit my application,” she said.
“For as long as I’ve been mentored by these incredible Mercy women, their advice has been ‘go for it, Salty’.”
Isabel said her education at St Aloysius had introduced her to the “compelling stories of Catherine McAuley’s life and work” and to social justice issues.