The Southern Cross The Southern Cross

Read the latest edition. Latest edition

International roles for young Mercy women


Two young Adelaide women are pursuing their passion for social justice at a global level through their association with the Sisters of Mercy and Young Mercy Links.

Comments Print article

Catherine Edwards, 24, recently graduated with a Bachelor of International Relations and Law from the University of Adelaide. This month she heads to New York for a 10-month internship with Mercy Global Action, which has an advisory role on the United Nations Environmental and Social Council.

Gaby Kinsman, 28, left last month for a 10-day immersion trip to Cambodia as part of a year-long fellowship program funded by Mercy Global Action. She will also spend 10 days in New York in March before presenting her research project at the Mercy International Centre in Dublin, Ireland in August 2023.

Catherine is a Mercedes old scholar and Gaby was educated at St Aloysius College where she now works four days a week as marketing and communications coordinator.

Both women also work one day a week for Young Mercy Links, a network of young people aged
18 to 30 committed to social justice, advocacy and education.

Catherine and Gaby have been involved in the group since its inception in 2016/17 and have spent time volunteering in Cambodia where Mercy Sister Denise Coghlan has been working with survivors of landmines since the 1980s.

The pair are adamant that the exciting experiences ahead of them would not be happening without the support of Adelaide Mercy Sister and refugee advocate Meredith Evans.

“We can definitely say that none of this would have happened without the mentorship, guidance and wisdom of Sr Meredith who really has such a passion for working alongside young people and helping us to know what’s within ourselves,” said Gaby, who is the coordinator of Young Mercy Links.

“One hundred per cent,” added Catherine.

“She has pretty much supported us in every way possible.”

Gaby said 21/2 years ago she and Catherine would “never have imagined we’d be about to embark on these ventures”.

“It’s so exciting, and she (Sr Meredith) is coming along with us on the journey, not literally…but in spirit,” she said.

Catherine is the first Australian to be chosen for the annual internship with Mercy Global Action which has ‘Special Consultative Status’ with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It participates in a wide variety of United Nations sponsored events, meetings and activities as well as having an advisory role.

Based across the street from the United Nations headquarters in ‘The Church Centre of the United Nations’, Catherine will work alongside people from other faiths and denominations.

Degradation of the earth and displacement of persons are the two focus areas of the internship.

Having just completed her degree, Catherine said the timing was right for her to participate in the program.

“Ever since I heard about it, I wanted to do it,” she said.

“I’m really excited to see everyone that’s over there and hear the experiences of those people who have been working in this space for so many years.

“I never realised how far the Sisters of Mercy are spread around the world – one of the roles of the internship is to bring all the different projects from the different institutes to the world stage.

“There are so many grassroots projects – it’s massive.”

Catherine gained an understanding of the extent of the Mercy Sisters’ impact through her work for the Migration Task Force which involved mapping all their different projects related to migration.

Currently employed as a researcher at Flinders University, she has been working on a project with Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) related to forced marriage.

She hopes to develop her leadership skills and learn as much as possible “to bring back to Young Mercy Links, to the Sisters and the Australian community”.

For Gaby, Young Mercy Links is about “fostering the next generation and how Mercy will live out into the future”.

“It’s such a critical moment in time to have this exchange of knowledge and passion from the Sisters with young people who share this desire to create a better world,” she said.

“When you think of all the young people coming out of Mercy schools who have been touched by the Mercy story and the works of the Sisters, our role in Young Mercy Links is to continue to provide an avenue for people to explore that beyond their school life.

“It’s really embedding values in young people that the Sisters want to continue to grow.”

As one of 10 participants in the Mercy Emerging Leadership Fellowship program, Gaby will undertake a year-long research project on an issue related to degradation of the earth or displacement of persons.

She will meet with other participants in Cambodia this month and come up with a proposal, most likely related to asylum seekers.

“With the work I’m involved in locally supporting refugee and asylum seeker families in Adelaide, I’m particularly passionate about young people who graduate from school but because of their visa situation can’t access tertiary education,” she said.

“Being a young person myself, I know how transformative an education is and knowing these young people who are so hungry to have that education but are not able to is something that fires my soul.

“I’d love to explore that more.”

With a degree in Media Studies, Gaby is keen to be as creative as possible: “The idea of being able to produce something audio visual would be super exciting.”

She is looking forward to the immersion experiences in New York and Mercy International Association headquarters in Dublin, where Catherine McAuley started the Sisters of Mercy.

“It’s pretty special to be able to present our research projects in the place where it all began,” she said.

In Cambodia, Gaby will renew her acquaintance with Sr Denise Coghlan who has had a major influence in banning landmines and has also been involved at an international level in justice and advocacy roles, particularly with the  Jesuit Refugee Service.

“There will be a lot of time talking about the fellowship program, what it entails, but also more about this region and the migration issues there,” Gaby said.

“Being able to apply any of the knowledge that I learn from this program is going to be so important to bring back to Young Mercy Links and our local community.”

Gaby and Catherine don’t shy away from their roles as young women in the Catholic Church, with all its imperfections.

“We know that the times are changing and the institutional Church has to move with the times,” said Gaby, whose mother is principal at Immaculate Heart of Mary,  Brompton.

“My faith has always been a part of my life, I grew up being involved in parish family groups and that sense of hospitality and welcome was really fostered in me through those kinds of things.

“My mum has always encouraged a depth of connection and relationship with God that is separate to the institutional Church, which has really helped me, especially in recent years, not to lose faith.”

She described her work with Young Mercy Links as a vocation rather than a job: “It’s something that I feel is an obligation to do, I’m so passionate about it that I can’t see myself not doing it.”

Catherine’s mother teaches at St Thomas Catholic School, Goodwood, and her grandmother was a “proud foundation scholar” of Mercedes College.

“Growing up my family were reasonably religious, and I went to a lot of protests when I was younger,” she said.

“It was always based on what Jesus would be doing; he would be helping the poor and saving the trees, in my mind it was always what Jesus would want. Now it’s a bit more of a formal process.”

The pair also pointed to the Mercy Sisters’ willingness to adapt to the times. “They never let people pigeonhole them, they’ve been a bit radical, that’s what I love about them,” said Catherine.

Gaby agreed, saying that Catherine McAuley “did things differently” and never intended to establish a religious order but simply responded to the needs of the day in Dublin.

“We are always walking in the footsteps of pretty incredible women who have made such a significant impact on the lives of people in this world,” she said.

To find out more about Young Mercy Links visit or email


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

More People stories

Loading next article