Mementos keeping the story alive!

Representatives from Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney, the Heritage Centre, Melbourne,  Mary MacKillop Centre, South Perth, Mary MacKillop Centre Penola, and Mary MacKillop Centre Adelaide met last week for the biennial Merchandise Conference.  This year the host Centre was Penola.

On behalf of the Mary MacKillop Centre Penola Committee, Co-ordinator Claire Larkin welcomed the guests for what proved to be a most productive two days.  Built into the programme were opportunities to pray together, to imbibe the spirit of this sacred town and its key landmarks, to strengthen relationships amongst the group, to sample the fruits of the work of the catering committee and even to taste the famous refreshments from the Coonawarra region!

Under the chairmanship of Sister Colleen Keeble, members from each Centre reported on activities which had happened since the last Merchandise gathering and anticipated the sesquicentenary events scheduled for their region.  These reports generated evaluations of current and former products which enable visitors to the Centres to recall their experiences and memories.  Mementos are often gifted to family and friends, thus keeping the story alive and often providing strength, hope and courage in a variety of life situations.  There was discussion, too, on products which might capture the interest and attention of visitors to the Centre during the sesquicentenary year.

Guest Speaker for the Conference was Biddy Shearing, Tourism Development Officer for Regional Development Australia, Limestone Coast Area.  Biddy stirred our imaginations with her energetic, enthusiastic and passionate sharing about her work at both National and International level.  She assured us that she seizes every opportunity available to promote the Mary MacKillop story, with which she was very familiar.  She offered ideas for promotion of our Centres and for new products which would be relevant to pilgrims and tourists at this time.

The representatives agreed that the networking that has been established over time is an invaluable aspect of their ministry as is the opportunity to conference together.  The next Merchandise Conference will be held in Adelaide.

Sue McGuinness rsj

Photo (l-r): Garry McLean (member of Merchandise Committee), Colleen Keeble rsj (Chair of Merchandise Committee), Sue McGuinness rsj, Anne-Marie Matuschka, Judith Georgenson, Patricia Keane rsj, Trish Downey (member of Merchandise Committee), Loreto O’Connor rsj, Maree Riddler rsj, Xenia Federico & Claire Larkin