From Cobble Stones to Inner City Streets of Today- By Eveline Crotty RSM

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As I reflect on my time in Ireland and the work I have been involved in the inner city of Sydney what kept coming to mind as I walked the streets of Dublin was the similarities between the back streets of Dublin and the inner city streets of Sydney. I pondered upon the effects of urbanization on people and communities back then and now. People can become lost, forgotten, hidden and ignored and even a smile or a chat can mean so much. One woman holding out a hat sitting on a step just around the corner from where I live said to me one day “You are the only person who has spoken to me to-day.” I wondered how many times Catherine and the women heard those same words as they walked the streets of Dublin.

After Catherine’s death sisters were sent from Dublin to the city of Liverpool in England, and from there to Sydney. The main areas in which the sisters lived and worked in those early years were at the Rocks in Sydney and the inner city ministries that spread from there to Redfern, Waterloo, Tempe, Erskineville, and Rosebery and places on the northside of the Harbour. Sisters of Mercy have a rich and long history in walking and working in urban, suburban, rural and cross cultural settings, each with its uniqueness. The rich charism of Mercy that the sisters and their colleagues have imbibed has enabled them to bring the best in people so that, no matter who they are or where they are from, or what their background has been, the seed to become their best selves has always been watered and nurtured. Discrimination of who a person is, is not in the vocabulary of Mercy.

For myself I have walked the streets of Redfern and the inner city for over 30 years and the local people never cease to amaze me. Only today as I walked back from the local shops a group of men and women drinking in the park smiled, waved and said “You are looking good to-day darl.” These people I see often and ministry is just being amongst and with, nothing out of the ordinary but full of amazing surprises at the oddest of times.

Catherine and the women she nurtured to give of their best knew those streets and back alleys of Dublin so well, never knowing who or what they would encounter. Life in the inner city of Sydney is no different. The presence of God is evident in the people, whether it be with a smile or an angry eye, it says it all.

By Eveline Crotty RSM – Attended the Mercy Leadership Program and Dublin Pilgrimage 2016 – Group 1