Day Two of the Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage
Day two of the Young Mercy Leaders’ Pilgrimage began with Morning Prayer in the Chapel of Mercy International Centre, Baggot Street. The prayer time emphasised the theme of ‘celebrating the gift that you are!’ and opened with the young representatives from each country lighting a candle, and from these, the pilgrimage candle was lit and placed in the centre of the chapel.
After the opening hymn, the prayer leader, Kathy Higgins rsm, explored the concept of gift, giving time for the young people to reflect on their own gifts and on the gifts that God has granted to them. She encouraged the pilgrims to use their gifts and talents to witness to their faith.
In the centre space of the chapel, a small individually created gift box for each pilgrim lay on the centrepiece around the candles and everyone was invited to come forward and choose a box. As each one opened their box, they received a word inside, which was their gift for the day. Marie Cox rsm sang the song ‘The Gift You Are’ as the young people and their teachers pondered on the gift of the word. The prayer ended with the singing of the hymn ‘The Circle of Mercy’, accompanied by simple movement.
Different types of prayer will be arranged during the pilgrimage so that the young Mercy Leaders will experience the variety of ways in which God can be present to them and in which they can become present to God.
Before the keynote address of the morning, the facilitator, Dee McKenna rsm, gave an opportunity to the Young Mercy Leaders to reflect on the time they have been on the pilgrimage so far and to surface what stayed with them from Tuesday’s experience. The responses were positive and enthusiastic.
Some quiet time was then given so that, if anyone wished, they could make entries in their pilgrimage journals.
Karen Schneider rsm gave the keynote speech for Wednesday. Karen teaches and practices paediatric emergency medicine at the John Hopkins Children’s Centre in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She specialises in tropical paediatric medicine and travels to countries such as Haiti, Guyana, Peru and Kenya, caring for and curing those children who would not otherwise have the chance to avail of medical expertise, due to poverty. The silence was palpable in the conference room as pilgrims were held spellbound by Karen’s recounting of the stories of some of the children she has worked with and healed. She spent some time exploring the idea of ‘Mercy’ and especially of ‘Mercy’ as compassion. Mercy requires one to see that there is an injustice and to have pity. Mercy is a choice, a decision that is made which makes a difference to someone else’s life.
Karen came to the attention of the international media in the immediate aftermath of the devastating earthquake of January 2010. Within 3 days of the earthquake, she was in Haiti with her team, organising emergency medical aid for the thousands of people injured by falling cement and metal when their houses collapsed. During her address this morning, she spoke movingly of the plight of the people of Haiti and of the efforts of so many to come to their assistance. Her challenge to the young people was this - “There is a story with MERCY waiting for you …How are you going to make it happen!!!”
After a short break for refreshments and time to chat with one another, Karen gave 30 minutes for questions . The young people questioned her profoundly and she answered with great truthfulness. On being asked why she decided to become a Sister of Mercy, Karen shared the story of her vocation, which was received with rapt attention by the pilgrims and culminated in a round of applause.
An interesting selection of workshops are on offer and after the keynote speech, the young people participated in the workshops to which they were assigned. The workshops have stimulating titles such as ‘Are We Human or Are We Dancer?’, ‘Growing in Mercy’, ‘Mercy at the United Nations’, ‘The Passion Connection’, ‘Praying with your Mind, Body and Spirit’, ‘Sacred Dance’, ‘The Vision and Mission of Mercy’, ‘The World Needs Mercy….Can You Respond?’.
As the first full day came to a close, there was an opportunity for the young Mercy Leaders to process what they had experienced during the day and to record their thoughts and feelings in their journals.
The weather is beautiful in Ireland this week and during the break after lunch, the young Mercy Leaders had time to sit in the garden, enjoy the warmth and sunshine and get to know one another.
After a light meal, the talent show began. This was held in the garden as the warmth of the day continued and conditions were just perfect for a social gathering. The young people displayed exceptional talent in music, singing, dancing and poetry recitation and entertained one another utterly. Catherine McAuley said ‘Dance Every Evening’ and we did that in style this evening.
Pilgrimage Communications Group