Irene’s Bespoke Rustic Cross.

To commemorate the anniversary of the death of Sister Irene McCormack (21 May 1991), we feature a reflection by Irene McCormack Catholic College.

Irene McCormack Catholic College is a co-educational Year 7 to 12 secondary school which was established in 2000 by the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia in response to an increased demand for Catholic education in the rapidly growing north-western corridor of Perth. The College was named in honour of Sister Irene McCormack and to continue her legacy of prayer, service and justice.

Irene’s Bespoke Cross

Irene’s Bespoke Rustic Cross was created from the Jarrah timber of the McCormack family home in Trayning, Western Australia. Irene’s Cross bares some of the markings of Irene’s story; the Western Australian origin of the wood, beautiful in colour, valuable, useful and strong, yet scared and charred by life. Irene’s Cross, like the Christian faith it is built on, is both beautiful and strong, as well as vulnerable and worldly. It is a powerful reminder of the humanity of Irene and all Christians who choose the way of our Lord, to love others and our God.

Irene McCormack Day

Each May, the College named in her honour, celebrates Sister Irene’s life, character, faith and legacy. We begin Irene McCormack Day with Mass concelebrated by Father Darek and Father Marian in the Paul Rafter Centre. Afterwards, the College Prefects discuss the importance of supporting Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s Charity, LifeLink.

After assembly, 100 representatives of our community leave the College to carry out various forms of service. Activities conducted include a clean-up of a local park near the College, gardening at St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Clarkson and a beach blitz clean up. The remainder of the day is filled with a variety of fun and food, activity stalls and music to help celebrate the day.

Irene’s Pilgrimage

Irene’s Pilgrimage is a vibrant tradition at the College involving Year 10 students journeying over five days retracing the footsteps of Sister Irene McCormack in Western Australia.

Along the journey, Pilgrims meet many close friends and family of Sister Irene, including her sister Bernadette McCormack, as well as several Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who worked with Sister Irene in Western Australia and Peru.

Sister Frances Maguire said, “She learnt to live with fear and not in fear, signifying a change in Sister Irene towards her last days, to devote the remainder of her life to people in Peru despite dangers of the terrorist organisation embedded within the community”.

The pilgrimage takes students to the South Perth Convent of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Safety Bay, Busselton, Kearnan College in Manjimup, Kellerberrin, Kununoppin and Trayning.

In Trayning, pilgrims cement their details on the labyrinth in the grounds of the Parish Church, which is modelled on the Eye that Cries Labyrinth in Lima, Peru and commemorates the lives lost in the many years of political unrest.

The final destination is New Norcia where pilgrims celebrate Mass in the Abbey Church. The pilgrimage enables students to experience the challenges and struggles of Irene’s life as well as her passion for dance, fun, sport, and commitment to helping those in need.

St Joseph’s Chapel

The College is in the process of working with the Sisters of Saint Joseph and the Perth Archdiocese to bless and dedicate the newly refurbished Saint Joseph’s Chapel. The Chapel will enable to the College to celebrate weekly Eucharistic celebrations and provide a spiritual space in the heart of the College.

Andrew Donaldson
Assistant Deputy Principal – Catholic Identity
Irene McCormack Catholic College