MERCY FOR WALL OF MEMORIES

When the Organising Committee for the Centenary of Our Lady of the Rosary (Hornsby Cathedral) Catholic Parish came to deciding on a cover photo for a special memento book, it seemed obvious that this photo should relate to the heritage of this faith community.

With 2016 named the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy by His Holiness Pope Francis; it was felt that Mercy should be a theme running through the book’s pages and that the photograph should relate to this theme.

While the separation of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish (Hornsby) from the Parish of Pymble did not occur until 1916, there had been a strong Catholic presence in the area from the early 1890’s with Masses celebrated in the homes of Catholic laity. However it was the establishment in 1898 of the Waitara Foundling Home for unmarried mothers and their babies by the Sisters of Mercy that spearheaded the development and growth of, at first, a humble church – school and later a more substantial Church building on Peats Ferry Road,( now Pacific Highway ), at Waitara.

Both Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the wider Hornsby community have recollections of the Waitara orphanage and of, in particular, the annual Foundling Home Fete, the biggest yearly social event on the local calendar for many years.

When, back in March, it was discovered that a section of the wall that enclosed the Foundling Home was still standing on land at the McQuoin Park Aged Care Facility, Waitara, it was evident that the committee had its “money shot” for the book’s cover. The photo was taken and the committee began to relax.

On her return from an overseas trip, the book’s designer, Cyrilla Almeida decided to seek some further shots of the wall. Imagine the consternation when she discovered that the site was under development and the wall with its plaintive bas-relief images of children gone!

After enquiries to the Sisters of Mercy at North Sydney it was revealed that the wall had been carefully removed brick-by- brick and placed in storage. It is intended that it will be reinstated in front of one of the new buildings being constructed on the site.

The Light of Christ Centre, Waitara will be the venue for a special Mass at 11am on Sunday, 28 August to recognise the Centenary of the parish and this will be followed by lunch, games ( think egg and spoon and sack races) and entertainment.

The book 100 Years of Faith in the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy can be obtained on the day or from the Our Lady of the Rosary Parish Office on 9483 2300 rrp $10.00.

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