June 04, 2010

Eastertide at Mercy International Centre

Eleven Sisters of Mercy gathered in an upper room in Mercy International Centre during Holy Week. During that time we were accompanied by women from the Christian and Mercy traditions. We explored the significance of women like the woman who anointed the head of Jesus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdala and our beloved Catherine McAuley. We wondered what it means to be women of the Passion and to be ourselves passionate women as we seek to be ever faithful to the unfolding call to discipleship in our world today. The week was brought to a fitting conclusion on Easter morning as we greeted the rising sun in the sacred garden, gathered around Catherine’s grave.

About midway through the Easter season another gathering took place in Mercy International when some twenty five Sisters of Mercy came together to get training and insight into the new Mercy World communications facility to be launched in the near future. It was a wonderful opportunity to get a preview of what will be a great resource for promoting the message, presence and face of Mercy on the worldwide web. The fact that eight of the nine international Mercy families were represented made the experience very special – the possibilities for new ways of networking with other people across the world in the service of Mercy are just about endless! I couldn’t help but think that Catherine must be very happy with this development, she who worked so hard to maintain contact with the Sisters as the Congregation began to expand.

As Eastertide came to an end another group of eleven Sisters gathered in the upper room on Pentecost Sunday. This was an international gathering which comprised Sisters from the four Irish Provinces, England, New Zealand, America, a Sister of Saint Louis and facilitator Sr. Jan Barnett, a Josephite Sister from Australia. Our topic was an exploration of the re-founding and re-forming of Religious Life in the 21st century. Jan provided us with some excellent input, creative rituals and above all the opportunity to reflect, ask the searching questions, share together and give expression to the call to Religious Life in our time.

For me it has been a rich time. The journey of Holy Week invited us into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection through the eyes of the women who travelled with him. The eleven of us who made that journey could say on Easter morning that our hearts burned within us…

The training weekend for the new Mercy World website was something akin to an explosion of the Spirit at Pentecost. The human intelligence that conceived this amazing facility has to be of the Spirit of God. Post-resurrection experience requires a new language – yet that language is capable of being understood by each in a personal way. The language of interconnectedness that connects us at the touch of a button is one that all of us can understand – as if we’ve known it all our lives and yet it is something new that we have never heard before.

As we focused on the core of what Religious Life is about in the context of the Larger God we sensed that the desire to live vows in a radical way, to be in communio with the other and the Other, to walk compassionately on the earth is exactly what our hearts desire. An image for Religious Life that emerged towards the end of our time together was that of a swallow: this tiny bird has within itself the wisdom and the strength to find its way across thousands of miles back to the same nesting place to bring forth new life year after year. We too need to trust that we have within us the wisdom and the strength to find our way as we seek to re-appropriate the charism of Mercy anew every passing year. This is the work of the Spirit who makes it possible for us to respond in fidelity to the Call that is ever-ancient ever-new. Pentecost continues.

By Aine Barrins rsm

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