August 06, 2014

Day One of Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage 2014

 Now is the Time!

The third Young Mercy Leaders Pilgrimage got off to a wonderful start on Tuesday, 5 August, 2014, when Baggot Street, Dublin came alive to the sound of young, excited and energetic voices!


The participants, who have been arriving in Dublin over the weekend, all gathered in the Dining Room for registration and to meet and greet each other. Although there were worries that the good weather might not last the day, the afternoon stayed dry for the Opening Ritual of the Pilgrimage, which has been in preparation for many months!

'There are so many people involved with organising this event, with so much dedication and commitment! All of the organisers hope that the participants who have travelled from near and far, enjoy their experience and feel a true sense of renewal in the charism of Mercy,' said Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm, Director of Heritage and Spirituality at Mercy International Association

The Opening Ritual of the Young Mercy Leaders 2014 began with the beautiful song ‘Now is the Time’ composed by Fr Liam Lawton, and sung by Marie Cox rsm, accompanied on violin by Ailish O’Brien rsm, on accordion by Patricia Donovan rsm, on tin whistle by Una Purcell rsm, and on drum by Trish Walsh rsm.

Mary Reynolds rsm, Executive Director, Mercy International Association opened the Pilgrimage by drawing on this year’s theme – ‘Now is the Time’. Sr Mary said that now was the time to welcome and be welcomed. She then lit the Pilgrimage candle, using the flame from the candle that burns at Catherine’s grave.  

Sr Mary welcomed everyone to Baggot Street, and said that now was the time to remember the story of the water rill, which flows through the Baggot Street garden. The rill holds a special significance for those at Mercy International Association. At the Opening Ceremony of Mercy International Association in 1994, Sisters of Mercy from around the world all poured water, which they had brought from their home places, from their special vessel into the rill. The pouring of this water symbolised Mercy being united at Baggot Street and the streams of Mercy from around the world, returning to their source and enriching one another. 

Now was the time to refresh those waters, and so a participant from each delegation was invited to pour water from their college and home places to the rill, so that the waters of mercy would be refreshed and renewed with new life, enthusiasm and excitement!

The participants were then lead from the garden to the chapel, stopping on the way to fill their own small bottle of water from the rill. Arriving in the chapel to the sounds of the song ‘Come to the Water’ Sr Mary told those gathered that now was their time to commit to Mercy. The participants were then invited to pour their water into the water feature as an expression of this commitment.

Micheál O’Sullivan, an Australian Mercy Associate who is presenting the workshop ‘Catherine & Her Spirituality’ then recited the reading ‘Take Time’ – which says that now is a “time to seize, because it will not come again”. Pilgrims from each delegation were then invited to recite the prayers they had composed for the Opening Ritual, after which those gathered sang a mantra ‘Let Us Pray Well’ written by Teresa Martin rsm based on words of Catherine McAuley. After ‘An Irish Blessing’ was read by Patricia Donovan rsm, which reminded the participants that they are ‘an important part of God’s plan.’ The opening ritual concluded with a rousing rendition of the Circle of Mercy!


The pilgrims and delegation leaders then moved to the Liffey Room in the Catherine McAuley Centre, where the facilitator for the week, Trish Walsh rsm, welcomed them all. To begin, Sr Trish asked everyone to join with another person and share some information about one another. After this Sr Trish asked all those in the same group, to introduce themselves and to establish some ‘ground rules’ for their time in Baggot Street.

After a short break, the group reconvened for the first Keynote Presentation – ‘Catherine’s Story: Gift and Challenge for Us Today’, which was delivered by Áine Barrins rsm. Sr Áine, who is a Sister of Mercy from the Western Province of the Irish Congregation, has devoted her time and energy to making Catherine McAuley known and loved and it is always a joy for her to share that love of Catherine with others. Sharing her knowledge and understanding of Catherine, Áine brought her to life for the pilgrims and showed them how this woman, who died over 150 years ago, endured many of the issues that those living today also experience. Concluding the session Sr Trish posed two questions to the participants and asked them to reflect on them overnight and throughout the week:

  • What characteristics of Catherine’s do I feel I have been gifted with?
  • How do I use them?

After a break for refreshments, the pilgrims then broke into their separate groups to attend their first workshop of the pilgrimage. The day concluded with new friendships in the making, and much about Mercy and Catherine McAuley to think about!

The full text of Sr Áine's presentation can be downloaded here.

Read Molly Onufer's experience as a Young Mercy Leader

Messages to: Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm

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