Day Four of the Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage
Today is Friday morning, 19th July and the last day of the Young Mercy Leader’s Pilgrimage has arrived. Once again, the sun is shining and it’s going to be a hot day.
Morning Prayer was held in the garden. Prayer opened with a gathering mantra which was sung softly for a few minutes until everyone was present in body, mind and spirit. This garden has played a central role during the pilgrimage and has been a place of reflection, fun, socialising, dancing and now, prayer.
To honour the sacredness of the week’s pilgrimage and in memory of all who came here this week, a shrub was planted in the garden. One pilgrim prepared the ground, others planted the shrub and Mary Kay Dubrovonly rsm, Assistant Director of Heritage and Spirituality, watered the earth. Catherine McAuley said that “Prayer is a plant, the seed of which must be nourished or it will die”. The pilgrims were reminded that their prayer will also come to bear much fruit. Prayers of gratitude to God were offered by the pilgrims and this special time of prayer came to an end.
The first session of the day took place in the main conference room. Dee McKenna rsm, facilitator for the pilgrimage, reflected with the pilgrims on the Gospel passage of the Transfiguration Mt. 17: 1-9. After the Transfiguration, the disciples Peter, James and John wanted to build 3 tents and stay on the mountain. Dee commented that she had heard from some of the Young Mercy Leaders that they would like to stay here; but unfortunately, it would soon be time to leave here and return home.
The pilgrims were given time to sit quietly with the feelings that were coming up for them and Dee invited them to write in their journals and record how they are. She suggested that there might be a mixture of feelings – sadness at leaving here and also looking forward to returning home. After the pilgrims had recorded their feelings in their journals, there was time for feedback and an opportunity to surface any concerns that the young people might have.
The keynote speaker today was Mary Reynolds rsm, Executive Director of Mercy International Association. The title of her address was ‘A Leader is a Dealer in Hope’. Mary observed that our world today needs hope and that we long for leaders to inspire and animate us.
She went on to outline some situations of despair which Catherine McAuley encountered in her work in Dublin in the 1800s and showed how Catherine and her sisters brought hope to the people. These stories were illustrated by PowerPoint screens featuring the sketches of Sr. Clare Agnew, a companion of Catherine McAuley’s and a talented artist.
Catherine didn’t try to do the work of bringing hope in despair to people, alone. Others joined her and shared in this mission. She also counted among her colleagues, those who ran the political system and encouraged them to think about things differently, so that poor people’s lives could be changed for the better.
Mary Reynolds rsm emphasised that leaders who bring hope must know why they do it. Catherine McAuley saw Jesus in every person who was in need. She responded to Him, and in this way, set about healing the world and bringing hope. That was her WHY. Mary commented that leaders must also know the WHO and the WHAT of bringing hope. The challenge is to be people of true compassion and to look for Jesus in others. Catherine’s life experiences helped her to understand others when they had difficulties in their lives.
Mary encouraged the Young Mercy Leaders to be leaders – to take up their leadership, even if it is in very small ways. She spoke of the ways in which compassion can be shown to others, and finished with a prayer for leaders by John O’Donoghue – an Irish philosopher, now deceased.
The full text of Mary’s keynote address is available here.
After a short break there was time for discussion and questions and each pilgrim received a card into which they wrote a message to themselves about the experience of the pilgrimage. These cards will be mailed to each person in a few months to remind them of the time here. Immediately after this session, there was time set aside for forward planning. Dee McKenna rsm, facilitator, asked the question “When we leave this place what are we going to do about the experience?” The delegation leaders and teachers went to assigned rooms with their Young Mercy Leaders to consider the question above. After 35 minutes’ discussion, they returned to the conference room and gave feedback on their plans to promote Catherine McAuley and the charism of Mercy in their schools.
The video above is a recitation of Slam poetry written by Mary - one of the Young Mercy Leaders
Lunch was eaten in the garden as the weather remains glorious. After lunch, there was an evaluation session and the pilgrims were invited to state some highlights of their time at the pilgrimage. Immediately after this session, the Closing Mass of the Pilgrimage began.
Fr. Liam Lawton was the celebrant at the Mass. Fr. Liam is a world famous composer of liturgical music and his compositions are well known and loved in Ireland and abroad. It was a delight for one and all to sing and play music that was composed by the celebrant, at this liturgy. The congregational singing was exuberant, vivacious and lively and was wonderful worship of God. Towards the end of the Mass, a short commissioning ceremony sent the Young Mercy Leaders on their way home with blessings and good wishes for their futures.
Pilgrimage Communications Team