November 29, 2009

How the Catherine McAuley Rose Came to Baggot Street

In September 2004 John Amery, CEO of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Townsville, Queensland was part of a pilgrimage of leaders from Mercy Institutions across Australia and New Zealand. Here is John's Story...

“I had eagerly anticipated the week in Mercy International Centre. I was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed the time for its insights, collegiality, and for me a lay person, its education, enlightenment and formation in the spirit of Mercy. It was a time of spiritual awakening in what "Mercy" means, its history and more importantly, its future. When walking in the sacred garden I felt the need to record a tribute to Catherine McAuley, the woman whose love and commitment to the sick poor led to our hospital providing care to the sick on the opposite side of the world.

The garden was a place of peace and serenity. There were magnificent roses of various colours, shapes and fragrance but no Catherine McAuley Rose. I decided to explore the possibility of bringing a rose bush from Australia. It would be a “thank you” to the Sisters for their hospitality and kindness. I was very familiar with the rose. We have them growing at home and in the hospital garden. Every year on Mercy Day 24th September as part of our liturgical celebration staff are given a miniature crepe paper Catherine McAuley Rose in recognition of each person’s inherent dignity, and in appreciation for the gifts each brings to the workplace e.g. kindness, hospitality, mercy and the spirit of generosity. The rose is a beautiful symbol for the quality of Mercy, God’s loving kindness which is the spirit of our health care services.

Mater Medical Centre, Townsville, North Queensland, AustraliaCrepe paper rose with Catherine McAuley Rose, Baggot Street

 There are a number of issues in transporting plants across the globe, namely quarantine, customs and shipping schedules. After phone calls and emails back to the hospital Supply Manager there seemed a possibility. When things were looking grim a phone call to the Department of Foreign Affairs was the last resort. The Australian Ambassador in Ireland was contacted. He agreed to facilitate the import and in exchange was offered a rose for his beautiful rose garden at his residence in the south of Dublin. So in time the Catherine McAuley roses were shipped, delivered and planted. The rose bushes arrived at Mercy International Centre on the afternoon of the 7th of September 2005 just in time for a ritual in George’s Hill the following day. The MIC Team had decided to offer a Catherine McAuley Rose to the Presentation Sisters as a token of gratitude on the occasion of 175 years after Catherine’s arrival in George’s Hill.

 The Catherine McAuley Rose Bush at MIC Rose bud
These roses now thrive in the garden close to Catherine's grave.


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