Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, officially named and blessed McGilvray House and The Dougherty Centre in Canberra today, 15 November 2016.
The former St Patrick’s Convent was renovated over the past 18 months. It is located beside the Bishops Conference Secretariat. This home of the Mercy Sisters was officially named and blessed as McGilvray House after Mother Mary McGilvray.
Glenn Mowbray, Business Manager, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said, “Marie McGilvray grew up in a faith-filled family and entered the Sisters of Mercy on 25 March 1928. Mother McGilvray received her Habit later that year on 22 December. Her date of Profession was 27 December 1930 and Final Profession was 22 December 1936, taking on the name Sister Mary Ignatius.
The Goulburn Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy established the new foundation in Braddon, Australian Capital Territory, in January 1955, with Mother McGilvray its first Superior.
Archbishop O’Brien officially welcomed the Sisters to St Patrick’s School on 30 January 1955. Mother McGilvray welcomed challenges and faced them intrepidly. Faced with the need to travel daily across Canberra before the Sister built the Braddon Convent, she quickly learned to drive and was often to be seen at the wheel of a blue Holden, the first sister to drive round Canberra.
The Sisters moved into the new convent on 29 January 1956 and Archbishop O’Brien officially opened and solemnly blessed the convent on 11 March 1956 and gave it the name St Patrick’s Convent.”
McGilvray House is now home to a range of Church agencies including the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, Caritas Australia, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, among others.
Archbishop Denis Hart also named the General Secretariat building ‘The Dougherty Centre’ after Bishop Patrick Dougherty who was appointed to the newly established Secretariat of the Australian Episcopal Conference in Canberra in August 1970.
On 1 September 1983, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Dougherty the seventh Bishop of Bathurst, which concluded his appointment as Secretary.
Fr Stephen Hackett MSC, current General Secretary, welcomed staff, builders, Mercy Sisters and Bishop of Bathurst, Michael McKenna, to the official naming and blessing ceremony.
The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, “In his own life Jesus Christ showed us the importance and dignity of work. By his own hands, he transformed toil from being an inherited curse for sin into a source of life and blessing.
“Today we gather here to name two buildings which house offices and agencies of the Bishops Conference and to bless this building before which we stand. At the same time, we pray God’s blessing upon all who serve the Bishops Conference and especially those who work in these buildings.
May the work done here serve the mission of the Church, establishing the reign of God through service and witnessing to God’s merciful love for all his sons and daughters. Let us bless the Lord, then, and pray his blessings upon all who will work in this place.”