About Mary Wickham

Mary Wickham is a Sister of Mercy from Melbourne, Australia. She grew up by the sea in the west of Melbourne. She has degrees in Arts and Theology. Her Masters Thesis from Melbourne University was about the poetry of Elizabeth Jennings.

Mary’s ministries as a Sister of Mercy include work as a secondary teacher and tertiary lecturer in the fields of Literature and Education. She has worked extensively with chronic homeless alcoholics and disabled adults. She has also had considerable experience working with people with dementia. All of these experiences feature in her poetry and have shaped her sense of the human spirit and God’s grace at work in the world.

Celtic Spirituality and the history and landscape of Ireland have enriched and informed Mary’s writing over the years and she has run many Retreats and workshops related to Celtic Spirituality. Her father was born in Rosslare, County Wexford, and her mother’s grandparents were from the area around Ballymacward Co.Galway, and the Scottish island of Islay.

Her poetry and reflective articles have been published in numerous magazines including Cyphers, Creation Spirituality, Poetry Ireland Review, Review For Religious, Aisling and Madonna. Chief amongst a number of prizes and commendations, her poem ‘Four Hundred’ won the Max Harris Poetry Award.

She has written two collections of poetry: In The Water Was the Fire and Souvenirs of Spirit, both published by Spectrum Publications of Melbourne. She also edited the book Music on the Hill, a celebration of the Centenary of the Sisters of Mercy in Casterton, Victoria, Australia.

As well as being used for prayer and reflection her work has appeared in diverse contexts such as:

  • A Cancer Council Daffodil Day banner in St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne
  • The Irish Catholic Catechism for Adults 2014 (Veritas Publications)
  • As the 2014 theme for Mercy Volunteer Corps USA
  • As a water feature in the Weinberg Center, Baltimore Mercy Medical Center
  • As part of a walkway aesthetic at Catholic College Bendigo,Victoria, Australia

Mary currently devotes her time to writing and conducting Retreats and Workshops. She is completing a book about Celtic Spirituality and working on two novels. She loves reading and music, and tending a small garden. Stray and homeless cats and the occasional homeless dog find their way to her door. Her favourite poets are W.B.Yeats, Patrick Kavanagh, Jessica Powers, Elizabeth Jennings and Tagore. She has a keen interest in contemporary Irish poetry and admires the work of Brendan Kennelly, Padraig Daly, Moya Cannon, Francis Harvey and Vona Groarke.

Read more about her poetry in the Introduction to her first collection by Michael Leunig.