February 07, 2021

Embraced by the Circle of Mercy

Cecilia Maher, founder of the Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand, wrote longingly to her community in Ireland, “Perhaps someday we’ll all be together – from Carlow and Pittsburgh and Aukland.” It was this same sense of care and connection that inspired the sisters in New Zealand to reach across the globe to offer support to the Mercy retirement communities in the United States.

This generous gesture began with an exchange between leaders. Sister Sue France in New Zealand wrote to Sister Pat McDermott in the United States expressing the concern for her leadership team for the sisters in the Americas, especially those in retirement communities, as the pandemic spread across the country. They had an idea, she wrote, for a sister-to-sister connections with members of the New Zealand community writing personal notes to retired sisters living on the other side of the world. They hoped that the notes would be received by December 12 in time to be part of the celebration of Foundation Day.

Sister Pat McDermott responded that, in the Americas, there are hundreds of retired sisters in thirty-three different centers – a very big project for the much smaller New Zealand Institute. Undaunted, Sister Sue responded that “The action would do as much if not more for our sisters here who have felt immobilised and disconnected for much of the year. For us as Mercy, action is so much part of who we are no matter what stage of life.”

Addresses were sent and soon personal notes were making their way across the miles  - care and generosity on the New Zealand side, delight and gratitude on the American side –the Circle of Mercy embracing us once again. One place where the messages brought delight was the motherhouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Among the exchanges expressing wonder and gratitude for these messages was this between two sisters in the infirmary.

Sister Joan Laboon – “I didn’t know we had sisters in New Zealand. They should come and visit us”

Sister Fidelis McDonough – “Yes. We’ll show them a good time!”

Messages to: Sheila Carney rsm

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