December 02, 2019

A Personal Reflection on Mercy-ing: 'Emerging Cosmic Dawn'

Image credit: Kelly Williams rsm

A year ago young Mercies walked into the auditorium at Mercy Center St. Louis with open hearts. Days later, we walked out with the seeds of a new dream and a new vision. That gathering began something new for the Sisters of Mercy of America. 

By gathering the new members and sisters under the age of fifty the ILT created a space for discernment and shared dreaming.  With this goal in mind the conference was titled “Mercy-ing: One World, One Dream” which was appropriate because the verb mercy-ing, coined by Pope Francis, encapsulated the hope and desire we all carry to make mercy real in our world.

This year the ILT called us together again, this time in Lima, Peru, and asked us to name the vision after a year of core conversation groups which were formed during our previous gathering.  In these groups we began to address our desire to engage certain issues more fully: human trafficking, interculturality in community, mobility in community, community living (USA, Philippines, and CCASA), and risk taking.  Those conversations helped prepare us for this year’s meeting titled “Emerging Cosmic Dawn.” Using the imagery of night slowly becoming day helped provide the setting for this four day adventure.

As we gathered for prayer on the first night we recalled our roots and the sisters who, grounded in God’s call and a vision of mercy, courageously set out for the sake of the mission.  The sun set while we stood in the garden encircling a lit paschal candle.  With the familiar sights and sounds of an Easter vigil we proclaimed our history in our own exsultet, and as our countries were proclaimed we lit the small candles in our hands.  The first day drew to a close at sunset as we prayerfully sang our hope to be “disciples of joy[1]” in this new dawning brought about by the emerging vision.

Sister Pat McDermott, followed by a panel of participants, set the context for the vision we hoped to name.  Pat called to mind the current Journey to Oneness saying, “Only love makes a difference… only love leads to oneness, inner freedom, and who we are meant to be.”  The call to love continued as the panel held up issues of violence in the areas where we live and serve, as well as in our own community and homes.  These calls, to non-violence and to community, emerged as the most pressing themes of our shared vision for Mercy.

We took time to share with each other around these two concerns and connected both issues to our Chapter Recommitment Statement, and our Critical Concerns.  Then question we needed to ask, as we held our concerns with our dreams, was, “How can we internalize our critical concerns in our own community?”[2]  Engaging in artistic expression to contemplate these concerns helped us to name the path of non-violence rooted in all we hold dear as sisters: heritage, our faith in God, vows, and charism to name just a few.

We deepened this contemplation in a free flowing process by breaking out into small groups and gathering the seeds of last year’s ongoing conversations.  Through sharing what was learned from the core conversation groups the call emerged for workshops, facilitation, and to practice models in community which address the issues facing communal living and a vision of non-violence.  This call to our community will hopefully bring our vision to reality.  A commitment statement outlining all of our suggestions has been drafted and will be released soon.

All of the suggestions named in our commitment statement affirm each sister’s voice, wholeness, and healing.  Healing is the key to the vision we have named, and without it any practice of non-violence will only be skin deep.  If we cannot heal our personal and communal wounds[3], and embody non-violence for each other, then we will have no hope of calling forth non-violence in our world.  By embodying peace and sororal love our lives become a ministry to a suffering world in dire need of an example justice lived in unity.  Naming this is the first step towards building the bridges that will deepen our vowed commitment to one another.

Naming our woundedness and our need for healing gives us the strength to move forward. Pat McDermott, in the ILT’s closing reflection, honored the vision ability to name our reality as one of our strengths, and highlighted the necessity of this gift for our journey as we find ourselves in suspense between what was and what is coming.  This business of naming is a risky one, reminded Judith Fricker.  Naming the truth of our reality sheds light on God’s call to be whole, healed, and free women of Mercy, and is bound up with the ever evolving call to serve.  At the meeting in Peru we have begun this naming.  Now we must continue the journey, rooted in authenticity, as we seek to see each other and God more clearly in our Emerging Cosmic Dawn.


We named ourselves as Sisters. 

We named our roots in community

around the world. 

We named ourselves as wounded

and violent. 

We ask for healing. 


let us encounter one another

in love and in peace. 

Messages to: Amanda Carrier rsm

[1]Velma Frye. Lyrics to “Expecting Miracles.” Take Heart. Velma Frye, 2010.

[2] Maria Teresa Muhuhu.  Table Discussion. 22 November, 2019.

[3] The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.  Chapter 2017 Recommitment: Called to New Consciousness. 2017

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