Vic Mercy College wins residence for Ethiopian student

After raising $5000 to fund lifesaving medical treatment in Australia for an Ethiopian student, a Melbourne Mercy college has succeeded in persuading the Federal Government to grant residence to the student who requires ongoing treatment.

The Moreland Leader reports that the Ethiopian girl, Hanna Mamo, 18, can now stay and pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

Hanna was granted permanent residency after her Mercy College classmates wrote 250 letters to Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone and a local lawyer took up her cause.

"I don't have one word how to thank you all for your co-operation to have me here," Hanna said.

"I love you all."

Students at the Coburg North school raise $5000 every year to help fund the trip of two disadvantaged children to receive medical treatment through the Moira Kelly Foundation.

In 2004, Hanna received one of those grants. She was rushed to Australia suffering migraines and had lost her eyesight because of a brain tumour. She was gravely ill.

After intricate surgery, which removed most of the tumour, Hanna was placed on medication for the rest of her life.

When her visa expired earlier this year, the Mercy College community and the Mamo family feared Hanna would have to return to Ethiopia, jeopardising her health because of its poor medical system.

Fellow Year 11 student Effie Katsaounis begged her lawyer mother, Mary McLeod, to help.

"In my mother's typical fashion, she went into action mode. She was going to help this girl and use every resource she had to stop her from being deported," Effie said.

Ms McLeod described the legal challenge as difficult, enlisting the help of volunteer barristers.

After months of campaigning, Hanna was granted permanent residency in September.

She lives with her aunt and uncle in Melbourne and says she plans to study at university to become a nurse.

"When Maureen (Dillon, Year 11 co-ordinator) phoned me with the news that the Minister had granted Hanna a permanent visa, I felt euphoric," Ms McLeod said.

"It was the greatest reward for me as a lawyer. I saw first-hand what the Christian faith and spirit could achieve.

"I am proud that my daughter is a part of such a truly wonderful and inspirational school."

Effie said she was also proud of her mother's hard work and the situation had made her realise life was a "precious gift that many of us take for granted too often."

Mercy Sisters prepare for anniversary celebration

Meanwhile, in other Mercy news, the sisters are preparing to celebrate 150 years since the congregation first arrived in Melbourne, Kairos reports.

On 6 March 2007, it will be 150 years since the first Sisters of Mercy, led by Mother Ursula Frayne, arrived in Melbourne.

The Sisters of Mercy, who came at the invitation of Archbishop Goold, was the first religious community of women to come to Melbourne, and they took up residence in a house arranged by Archbishop Goold in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy.

Today, the site is still home to a community of Sisters of Mercy, and to the first Catholic College for girls in Victoria, the Academy of Mary Immaculate.

Founded by the Venerable Catherine McAuley in Dublin in 1831, the Mercy sisters were established initially for "the visitation of the sick poor and charitable instruction of poor females".

Catherine McAuley is reputed to have said: "the poor need help today, not next week!"

Among the first celebrations planned will be a guided tour of the Ursula Frayne Chapel on 19 November this year.

A school of Mercy (Moreland Leader, 23/10/06)
Congregations celebrate (Kairos, 29/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Mercy College, Coburg
Mercy Sisters Australia
Mercy Sisters News

Mercy's justice tree spreads branches, deepens roots (CathNews 22/8/06)
Brisbane Mercies establish ACU scholarship fund (CathNews 18/11/05)
Mercy nun sounds alarm on deportation of Christian Iranian (CathNews 18/10/04)
Mercies report on ethnic clashes in PNG (CathNews 30/7/04)

30 Oct 2006