Day Four of the Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage
Although the last day of the Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage dawned with grey skies, and with the knowledge that later in the day participants, delegation leaders, musicians and volunteers will depart Catherine’s house, the day was met with the same enthusiasm and good spirits we have seen here all week!
Today marked a change in the usual schedule that we have been used to, as the participants attended their final workshops this morning. After a short break, the group then moved to the Liffey Room for Forward Planning. To begin the session, Trish Walsh rsm asked those present to take a moment, close their eyes and to reflect on the workshops they had just finished. Although the pilgrims were inevitably thinking about the end of their journey, the packing they must do, and the homes they will return to, Trish asked that they put these thoughts on hold, and concentrate for now on everything they have learned over the past four days, everything they have taken on board and been gifted with, and the commitment they will now make in carrying this knowledge into the future.
Sr Trish then turned the attention of the group to the Action Plans. Breaking into their college groups, the participants took time to meet and to formulate a set of actions, which they will implement in their own Colleges and Universities.
Key points that Sr Trish asked the participants to keep in mind when formulating their plans included Catherine McAuley’s quote – “What the poor prize most is the kind work, the compassionate look and the patient hearing of sorrows”. Trish reminded the participants that Catherine herself did not start with a great plan, but rather with what presented itself in her immediate surrounds – the needs in her own family and locality. Trish also reminded the group of the advice given by Sr Mary Reynolds during her Keynote Presentation ‘A Leader is a Dealer in Hope’. Sr Mary said that the pilgrims that they can bring about change and can make a difference. The students and delegation leaders were challenged with the task ‘What do you as a group from your University want to commit to?; ‘What action plan do you need to put in place in order to achieve this?’; and ‘How do we wish to communicate our action plan in as concrete a way as possible?’
The purpose of these Action Plans is to articulate the pilgrim’s commitment as a University or College group to Mercy Leadership, based on their experience of the Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage. After their meeting, the participants were asked to present their plan to the larger group.
The plans that emerged from the meetings were remarkable and evidence of the wisdom of this group of people and their commitment and steadfast dedication to Mercy. Some of these action points included a plan to gather interested students and organise an event that revolves around Mercy Leadership; contact Mercy Partners around the world; connect with Mercy Schools to ‘bring the pilgrimage back’ to their home places; commit to mercy centred activities; and to create a facebook group to stay in contact with each other.
After a break for lunch, the group rejoined in the Catherine McAuley Centre to begin their Pilgrimage Evaluation. Everyone present was invited to take a card and write a wish, a blessing or a prayer for another person. After this the participants were invited to write themselves a letter, which will be posted to them later in the year. The letter, though personal to each pilgrim, allowed everyone present to record their feelings, thoughts and emotions at this moment. When they receive the letter in a couple of months, the hope is that it will serve as a reminder of all they have learned, the way they felt while in Catherine’s house and the emotions they experienced while they journeyed on the Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage.
At the end of the Pilgrimage Evaluation session, the students from Salve Regina University presented Sr Trish with a beautiful plant, after which there was a short presentation to thank all involved in making the pilgrimage such a success!
The final piece of the 2014 Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage was the Closing Liturgy. The liturgy began with singing of ‘Holy is God’ by Fr Liam Lawton. A Reading from the Prophet Jeremiah was the first reading, after which those gathered sang the Responsorial Psalm ‘Sing a new song onto the Lord’. The Gospel reading was from the Gospel of St John. The celebrant, Rev Brian Shortall OFM Cap, reminded the participants to channel the spirit of the Lord, take courage and ask that He remove any distractions. Sheila Carney rsm broke open the word. Sr Sheila drew on the theme of the Pilgrimage – ‘Now is the Time’. The question Sr Sheila posed was: ‘Now is the time for what?’ She reminded the pilgrims that it is impossible to unlearn what has been learned over these past days - we cannot unread Catherine’s letters, we cannot forget what we know about those who are marginalised in the world. Therefore, Sr Sheila said, we must ask remember that this is God’s time, and God is asking us to bring light into the world.
The liturgy closed with each participant receiving a small bottle of water from the rill which flows through the Baggot Street garden, as a reminder that we are all part of the Global Mercy family. Mary Reynolds rsm then extinguished the pilgrimage candle, and the Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage drew to a close for another year!
Our thanks to all of the wonderful participants, delegation leaders, musicians and volunteers who made the 2014 pilgrimage such a wonderful success!
Messages to: Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm