EVERYONE would benefit from “an Andrea Mercier” in their corner.
She’s the kind of wife, mother, educator and friend whose selfless and God-filled ways are at the core of her being.
Not that the striking woman of faith would publicise it; in fact, she’d likely go to great lengths to change these very words in print.
That’s because Andrea’s humble about who she is and all she does, with prayer the driving force of her life and vocation.
Her daily prayer routine is to first pray for her children.
“I pray every morning and night to the guardian angel of each member of my family,” Andrea said from her Sunnybank home.
“I pray that God will watch over, protect and guide them each day.”
A love and dedication for prayer was instilled in her as a child.
“I grew up in an average suburb on the southside of Brisbane with my mum, dad, two brothers and two sisters,” Andrea said.
“We attended Mass every Sunday morning (and) also went to Reconciliation before Easter and Christmas.
“We went to Mass for all the holy days of obligation.”
Andrea’s mother was a member of a parish prayer group and their recitation of the Rosary, sometimes in the family home, had an impact.
“The Rosary group would meet up once a week at each member’s house and I participated in that on school holidays,” she said.
“I actually really enjoyed participating … it taught me the power of prayer, particularly when two or more people are involved.
“I also learnt how to be socially open about my faith with others.”
From her mother, Andrea said she learnt “the power of prayer” and “how to talk to Jesus every day”.
Her dad’s tangible faith also resonated.
“I’ve always had in-depth conversations with him about faith and spirituality and interpreting the Bible,” Andrea said.
“Both my parents taught me how to love and care for others, and the importance of helping in the community.”
After high school at Loreto College, Coorparoo, Andrea went on to study visual arts majoring in sculpture and photography.
She’d met her future husband Marc “at a high school dance” and they’ve “been together ever since”, marrying at Holy Spirit, New Farm, a church Andrea’s grandmother “helped raise the money to build”.
Next year will be the Merciers’ 20th wedding anniversary.
They have four children, Marcel, 18, Sophia, 15, Gabrielle, 13, and Amelie, 11.
Asked how faith expression shapes family life, Andrea responded with continued humility and ease.
“The first thing is to have open and honest communication (with their children),” she said.
“We talk about their day and discuss anything on their mind, any concerns or troubles they have … (and) we pray to Jesus for strength, reassurance, guidance and support.
“We also thank God for all the positive and good in our lives.”
Andrea said “as babies and toddlers, prayer was modelled both day and night”.
“Each night we pray to their guardian angel, say the Our Father and Hail Mary plus a family prayer to bless everyone,” she said.
“We pray our heart is open to our Lord and ask and thank Him for filling our hearts with love, peace, understanding, respect, forgiveness, patience, strength, courage and compassion.”
Mass attendance continues to drive their prayer lives as is a discussion, before Mass, of what collective intentions they take to God.
Collectively the Merciers pray for each other in every aspect of their day-to-day, from school camps to exams.
They often pause to pray when hearing a siren.
Catholic schooling was a priority within the sphere of faith expression.
“I wanted my children to attend Catholic school as I believe they provide an environment for reinforcing and developing faith,” Andrea said.
“I also saw the sacramental program (preparation for and reception of Penance, Confirmation and First Holy Communion) as a vital component of faith expression and development.
“My children have always been encouraged to help in their community and to show compassion and love for others.”
Andrea said she believed a healthy dose of “asking questions” and “open dialogue with Jesus” was also key.
Today, the Mercier siblings were “continually learning how to listen to and be guided by Jesus”, she said.
It was God’s guidance that led Andrea to study visual arts, and her exposure to photography also became life’s passion.
“From as early as I can remember, I’ve been interested in and obsessed with Art,” she said.
“In the first year of my Visual Arts degree I was introduced to black-and-white photography (and) fell in love instantly.
“I love capturing moments in time for families to cherish forever.”
Many Brisbane parishes benefit from Andrea’s humble presence at sacramental celebrations, as she captures precious moments on film.
The community of St Joachim’s Primary School, Holland Park, know her well.
It’s there she’s worked as a teacher aide for seven years and where a love for the arts continued to find a home.
“While working as a teacher aide it became clear to me that I wanted more of a teaching role of working with children,” Andrea said.
“I love creating art with them, helping them to know their self-worth and actively partake in their academic growth.”
So enthused as a teacher aide, Andrea began post-graduate studies in teaching and religious education last year at Australian Catholic University. She said she “looks forward to imparting knowledge and experience to the youth of today to help guide, teach, inspire and support them in achieving their own goals”.
Andrea encouraged teachers and teacher aides in Catholic schools to see their faith as impacting positively on students.
“Children and teenagers are very curious about most things and in particular, who and what God is,” she said.
“(They ask) how we can actively include our faith into our lives daily.
“I’ve been asked many times by Prep students about Jesus and Mary … (and) we also discuss how God created the earth and all the plants and animals and how we need to care for them.”
Andrea said she felt she can answer students’ questions confidently because of her faith.
She said she often had discussions with her son Marcel’s friends about faith-related topics and that this too was an opportunity to relish.
“If you show you are open to discussions, that you have a positive outlook and an understanding of what you’re talking about, then faith becomes a topic that children and young adults aren’t afraid of and love to explore,” Andrea said.
As a secondary teacher of the future Andrea looks forward to helping students “embrace faith daily” and “know Jesus loves them the way they are”.
Knowing her vocation as wife and mother is also a daily expression of faith, Andrea encouraged parents to active participation in the life of the Church.
“In my experience, parents and teachers can best motivate children by themselves becoming active members of a parish – by leading by example,” she said.
– Selina Venier