January 17, 2021

Beginning This New Year: Berneice Loch rsm

As I to write to all in our Mercy World at the beginning of this New Year, I cannot help but reflect on how much our circumstances have changed since this time last year.  Yet the mission of Mercy to which we are called to contribute does not change.  The Works of Mercy, including the 8th Work of Mercy, Care of our Common Home, are as relevant today as they were when Catherine McAuley was first responding to her particular call to do the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.

2020 was for all of us, I think, a challenging year.  We have had to be flexible and creative as we sought ways to realise the vision of Mercy in these particular times in all our different situations.  Right now it seems that 2021 might not be all that different, and so we enter a second year of great uncertainty.  I am reminded of Catherine’s words about taking small steps,

"Thus we may hope to get on – taking short careful steps, not great strides."

—Catherine McAuley to Sister M de Sales White, Bermondsey.
(The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley 1818 – 1841.)

When we don’t know the path ahead, taking small steps can be very appropriate, and sometimes all we can manage. 

In this first E-News I want to assure you that we will continue to seek out ways in which MIA can be a source of unity among, and support for, the groups that make up MIA – the Institutes, Congregations and Federation, the Associates and the numerous Partners in Ministry who are part of the Mercy World.  We will continue to foster collaboration among us all, and develop ways in which we can nurture the rich heritage bequeathed to us all by Catherine and her companions.  They too had to work with a great deal of uncertainty as they led and were part of something new.  We take hope and courage to venture those small steps.  Are we too part of something new?

Back in November we shared that Elizabeth MacNeal would be taking up the position of Head of Heritage and Spirituality.  I am pleased to tell you that Elizabeth has now arrived in Dublin and is busy settling in.  She is contributing to this E-News and that will give you some further introduction to her. Of course this means a further change to our Executive team, now consisting of Angela Reed rsm, Head of Mercy Global Action, Elizabeth and myself.  We are looking forward to working together. 

Our reflections on Mercy Global Presence will be continuing as planned during the first half of 2021.  The on-line reflection sessions, together with several other initiatives, among them the Mercy Day Mass from Baggot Street, have contributed to a deepening sense of awareness of our international reality.  I hope we will continue to depth this understanding in 2021, and learn to treasure the gift of diversity among us.  As I wrote at the end of 2020, we will be working in 2021 to develop a better sense of that “us” – of the numerous women and men of Mercy who make up the Mercy world and are inspired by the vision of Catherine, woman of the Gospel.

The MIA Board meets next in February having been unable to meet in person since February of 2020.  I very much appreciate their commitment to MIA in such challenging times.  Conducting all meetings by zoom is difficult as so many of you could attest from your various situations.

There is so much more that could be written and we will continue to use the E-News to keep you informed of our thinking and what is happening.  I want to encourage you to take opportunities to make our communication a two-way street.  We need to hear from you what is happening throughout the Mercy world, and we value your assistance in knowing how we can make this Association increasingly relevant. 

Change is a sign of life, uncertainty is a stimulus to creative thought!  May they take us towards greater wisdom and deeper compassion, especially in our concern for all who are suffering as a result of this pandemic.

—Berneice Loch rsm

Messages to: Berneice Loch rsm - CEO Mercy International Association

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