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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 557  |  19 March 2014
Featured Story
'Water is free Beverage' Catherine McAuley (1840)

Editor: This Saturday, 22 March is World Water Day, first observed in 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly declared this date to be 'World Day for Water'. For the Global Mercy family, this day presents us with a reminder of our need to attend to the critical water issues of our era. MIA has adopted 'advocating for water justice, access to clean water and sanitation' as a key goal under the cosmology/eco-justice banner.

In this issue of Mercy E-news we hear from Mercy people in different places in our world, sharing from their experiences and their insights into Living water. In Digital Life there are links to enable us to each calculate our water footprint, helping us to think further about our water usage and our water conservation ethic. In addition, Further Resources this week provides a range of readings, viewings and animations to increase our knowledge about water, 'blue gold'.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA


Image: A woman is on her way to the water distribution site in Tora, North Darfur, Sudan
UN Photo/Olivier Chassot. Used with permission

Vision in Action

We posted greetings (in Irish and English) on the website for St. Patrick’s Day to our Irish Sisters of Mercy, Associates, Partners in Ministry and Friends of Mercy over the world and to all Sisters of Mercy and the extended Mercy Family, who can claim Celtic roots through our foundress, Catherine McAuley.

The greetings are accompanied by a video developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland and Fáilte Ireland to celebrate Ireland's national day. You might like to watch it if you didn't see it on Monday. (03:03)

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Image: Shamrock. Pixabay. Used under CCO

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MIA Intention for the Coming Week

O Triune God, we know you in many ways, each a gift as our faith seeks understanding. May we reflect carefully on the mysteries in which you manifest yourself to us, thus coming to know you in your infinite riches. May loving you lead us to a deeper appreciation of our communities and our world. We ask this in faith, knowing that you call us to love one another.


Morning Prayer for the Second, Fourth and Sixth Wednesdays in Lent from Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy.
Download: Prayerbook app for iOS  Download: Prayerbook app for Android


And what does all of this mean in terms of a more merciful and survivable world?

Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council of Canadians and renowned water and human rights activist, lays out the vision for a new approach to the future of water—and ourselves—in her seminal work, Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and Planet.

Barlow convincingly argues that, if water will in fact exist in the future, we must believe and act on the present reality that:

1.Water is a human right and must be shared more equitably.
2.Water is a common heritage of future generations and must be protected as a public trust in law and practice.
3.Water has rights too, outside of its usefulness to humans.
4. Water can teach us how to live together if we will only let it.

Messages to: Aine O'Connor rsm - MGA Co-ordinator at the UN

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Sit back for a moment and consider this:  There are approximately 7.2 billion persons on our planet.  Approximately 1.1 billion persons have no access to clean and safe water.  Think about how many times you encounter 7 people in a given day – and imagine that one of them cannot drink or use clean, safe water.  Imagine that the seventh person might be you...

Messages to: Mary Waskowiak rsm - MIA Director Development & Fundraising

Image: A young resident of Tacloban, Philippines, walks through some of the damage and debris left by Typhoon Haiyan. UN Photo/Evan Schneider. Used with permission

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The organ located in the gallery of the chapel at Mercy International Centre dates back to 1844. It was built by William Telford (1809-85), the leading Irish nineteenth century organ builder. Among the other instruments he built are the Trinity College Dublin Chapel (1838) and Dining Hall (1839) organs, and the Christ Church Cathedral organ, (1832)...

By 1994, the Convent of Mercy on Baggot Street was completely renovated and re-dedicated as Mercy International Centre. The organ was looked upon as a priceless treasure to be preserved, but the question was how to find the necessary money as the organ was the most expensive item on the wish list...

Messages to: Nancy Whitley rsm

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Editor: Music is a Mercy tradition and musical excellence is a hallmark of Mercy. This deep appreciation for music stems from Catherine herself who is said to have ‘“loved music very much” and “tried to have a piano” in every house she founded’. (1)

Not surprisingly, the Baggot Street Chapel has been the setting on very many occasions over the years for liturgical celebrations, recitals, lunch-time concerts and other musical performances; the most recent being the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music and Drama students (pictured) on 13 March and the Choir from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Nebraska singing in the Chapel on 15 March.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Generations of current and former Mercy students all over the world owe their music performance and appreciation skills to Sisters of Mercy. How did Sisters of Mercy influence you to make music a part of your life, either for pure enjoyment or as a career choice? Share your Mercy music story.

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As a Mercy community we pray with those in need of prayer. We especially pray this week with the intercession of Catherine McAuley for those whose names are newly added to our prayer list: Wal Payne, Tammy S, Dennis Hinygen, Virginia S Mejia, Pat He, Holly Conway, and all those who have asked for prayers

Messages to:
Anne Hannon rsm - Vice postulator Europe and Africa
Sheila Carney rsm - Vice postulator Americas
Caroline Ryan rsm - Vice postulator Australia & PNG, Aotearoa New Zealand, Philippines

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MIA Welcomes Ground-breaking Agreement to Eradicate Modern Slavery and End Human Trafficking

Mercy International Association welcomes the ground-breaking agreement between Catholic, Anglican and Muslim leaders announced at the Vatican on 17 March, to eradicate modern slavery and end human trafficking across the world by 2020, through the Global Freedom Network.

Eradicating human trafficking is a priority issue for Mercy International Association at both grassroots and advocacy levels. In the 40+ countries where Sisters of Mercy and our Partners in Ministry serve, we support trafficked persons, provide programmes to educate about exploitative practices and lobby for change.

The establishment of the Global Freedom Network is a sign of hope for the suffering and a source of encouragement to all people of goodwill committed  to ending modern slavery.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

On Wednesday 12 March 2014 the second Mercy International Soup and Substance Lenten Lunchtime talks was held. 'Fostering Environmental Awareness/ Action in the Community’ was the topic for this week’s talk, presented by Catherine Brennan, SSL, chairperson of Eco Congregations Ireland.

Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director MGA

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Where in the World... Progress Report

Editor: There has been a wonderful response to last week's invitation to help identify all the places in the world named for Catherine McAuley. We've well over 100 places named now and plan to publish the list in next week's Mercy E-News (Issue 558, 26 March)

If you are intending to add your place to Catherine's list but haven't had the opportunity to do so, we'd be pleased to receive your contribution this week.

Messages to: the Editor

Image: Helen Nolen rsm (ISMAPNG).
Uma Buka Matenek Caterina McAuley (Catherine McAuley's House of Learning),Timor Leste. Opened 12 December 2007
. Ongoing assistance to UBM Caterina McAuley is provided by Mercy Works

MIA Members News

Editor: We invited the Staff of Mercy Center at Madison, Connecticut, truly 'Mercy by the Sea', blessed as it is with 33 acres of breath-taking, waterfront property on Long Island Sound, to share with us a reflection on the healing, nurturing power of this place. Carol Villaggio, Mercy Associate, writes:

'Water! Living and ministering here at the edge of Long Island Sound we know the water, its moods, its rhythms, its delights, its power. We see it in the calm of dawn welcoming the sun over its rim and in the evening supporting the rising moon. The calm ripples, the surging tides, the cresting waves of storms witness to its many moods...'

Messages to: Ann McGovern rsm- Director of Mission Integration & Hospitality, Mercy Center at Madison

Editor: Mercy Center is this week's featured Mercy website

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Editor: We asked Mary Tee rsm, member of the Sandy Pond Alliance to bring readers up to date on the results of the court case which was held in Federal Court in St. John’s, Newfoundland last month, as well give some background to the case. In its efforts to protect and conserve Canadian waters and their ecosystems, the Sandy Pond Alliance launched a legal challenge against the Federal Government of Canada, to declare Schedule 2 in the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER) of the Federal Fisheries Act in violation of the federal Fisheries Act.

'...The court case ...was held in Federal Court in St. John’s, Newfoundland on February 27-28, 2013 – a delay of two years and nine months after our initial filing... In its application Sandy Pond Alliance contended that allowing metal mining corporations to use lakes and rivers as toxic dump sites, was ultra vires meaning that Schedule 2 was beyond the scope of the authority of the Governor in Council pursuant to the Fisheries Act, and that the federal regulation under the Fisheries Act allowing for the use of freshwater fish-bearing bodies like Sandy Pond to be used as containers for toxic mine waste was illegal... '

Messages to: Mary Tee rsm

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Over the past few years, Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College New South Wales (Monte) has become increasingly concerned with its impact on the environment. As a Mercy College committed to the pursuit of justice, we view social justice and eco-justice as inseparable. Ecological sustainability is not just the responsibility of a few members or students, but it requires the involvement of the whole College community.

The introduction of water stations and the banning of plastic water bottles was an initiative implemented by the 2009 Middle School Leaders, after discussions took place within the SRC body, about the possibility of replacing Monte’s old bubblers. By installing new bubblers as ‘water stations’, Monte is reducing the need to purchase plastic water bottles, an ever-increasing problem for the environment.

Messages to: Michelle Vo Environmental Captain 2013-14 c/- Carmel McDonough rsm

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Join the Call for Action to Save the Great Barrier Reef (ISMAPNG)

Editor: Australia's Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space, is under threat with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) approving a plan to dump dredge spoil from Queensland’s Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in the Marine Park area.

This year Earth Hour (29 March) will focus attention on the Reef, (It's Lights out for the Reef) a marine park stretching over 3000km (1800 miles), almost parallel to the Queensland coast, containing an abundance of marine life and comprising over 3000 individual reef systems.

This invitation (PDF) to participate with us in Earth Hour comes to you from the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea, and this initiative comes to you from the online conversation group

Messages to: Pat Linnane rsm

Image: Anthias under sunbeams © Cat Holloway - WWF-Australia. Used with permission

Thanks to the initiative of Sisters of Mercy ministering at the Manchester (New Hampshire) Immigration Project, two wells were dug in two South Sudanese villages. Mary Kuek, a student at the Immigration Project, recently visited one of those villages, Mangar Ayou – her home and that of her husband, James, who had raised the Community’s awareness of the need for a well there.  

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In Papua New Guinea only 40% of the population have sustainable access to improved drinking water sources and only 45% have access to improved sanitation. Mercy Works Kiunga PNG is helping to bring clean water and improved sanitation to remote villages along the Fly River.

Messages to:
Margaret Coulter - Mercy Works
Maureen Sexton rsm -Mercy Works Coordinator in Kiunga

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Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au
I am the river and the river is me

Water is a very topical issue in Aotearoa New Zealand. Early in February 2014 the submissions on the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management closed. Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa  Sisters of Mercy New Zealand sent to Government a letter that endorsed the submission made by the Methodist Church of New Zealand. The primary issue surrounds water quality and what level of purity is required.

Messages to: Bridget Crisp rsm - Mercy Global Action ANZ

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Aotearoa New Zealand has mined by the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for the last twenty years, primarily in the Taranaki region. 

Concerns have frequently been raised about how safe fracking is.  These concerns are related to the potential soil, water and air contamination in the regions where fracking is occurring, as well as the large volumes of water that mining companies require to carry out hydraulic fracturing.

Messages to: Bridget Crisp rsm - Mercy Global Action ANZ

Image: Water tanks preparing for a hydraulic fracturing job. Joshua Doubek. Used under CCO

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Sanitary Conditions After Typhoon Haiyan (Philippines)

Typhoon Haiyan has worsened the problem of sanitation due to unchecked waste disposal because so many people who lost their homes are still displaced. Access to fresh water seems not [to be] very much [of] a problem because we have plenty of springs and rivers with the sea surrounding our islands. However, clean drinking water has become a problem because of bad pollution around due to waste materials and chemicals either carelessly thrown away or unhealthily disposed [of]. Our schools do need to educate our youth on waste disposal and proper care of the gift of water to Mother Earth.

Messages to: M Carmela Cabactulan rsm - Sister Superior, Religious Sisters of Mercy Philippines

Image: Two girls from Tacloban stand in front of some of the damage and debris left by the storm. UN Photo/Evan Schneider. Used with Permission

Water surrounds us in so many ways -- the gurgling of streams and rivers, the magnificent healing sounds of the oceans, the thoughts generated by our meditation on its beauty, the ever changing clouds, the liquid in our eyes and our blood, the misty fog, the raging flood, the pristine snow on the mountain, the vortex swirling in our drains-the list is endless.

Water touches us many times everyday—it is the mystery on which all life depends. We humans depend on water-physically, psychologically, and spiritually...

Messages to:
Kathleen Glennon rsm
Marcella O'Connell rsm
Carmel Bracken rsm

Image: St Dympna's shrine and well, Caldavnet, Tydavnet, Co Monaghan, Ireland
Copyright balliali and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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Mercy Matters
Water is free Beverage

The booklet 'Water is free Beverage' is now out of print (sold out). We are grateful to Deirdre Mullan rsm for making available a pdf of this booklet which she produced, so our readers can download it and use it as a resource for personal reflection or with groups.

Messages to Deirdre Mullan rsm

Download : 'Water is free Beverage' (PDF)

Choose from this collection of direct (i.e from a tap) and virtual (the water it takes to grow, produce and transport all the goods and services you use and consume every day) water use calculators to understand your water use habits and learn ways to conserve and use water more efficiently.

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Of Food And Drink

'We have two great comforts here -excellent Bread in the Dublin household form and pure sparkling spring water.'

Catherine McAuley to Cecilia Marmion (1841)

Source: Mary Sullivan rsm, ed.,The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley 1818-1841, 2004, p. 347.

Growing up in a country town in south-western New South Wales, we experienced extremes of temperature; fog, heavy frosts and extremely cold winters with searing temperatures and high humidity in summer.

Anne Ferguson

Image: Bidgee. Illawarra Flame Tree. Photographed in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Used under CCO

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1873: St Joseph Hospital, Bedford, Massachusetss - M Borgia Douglas
1895: Groundbreaking ceremonies for St Joseph's Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona

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Mercy Center at Madison is a leading spirituality center offering personal, professional and spiritual growth and renewal programs for people of all ages and faiths. Come experience our programs, events, waterfront, wooded grounds, and hospitality.

We are offering an 8 week Sabbatical Program (22 September -17 November) for 8 participants with Judy Fortune rsm. Come join us.

Download the flyer (PDF)

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Further Resources

For World Water Day and Beyond

Worth Watching:

Blue Gold : World Water Wars (Official Full Length Film)
'...follow numerous worldwide examples of people fighting for their basic right to water, from court cases to violent revolutions to U.N. conventions to revised constitutions to local protests at grade schools.'
Watch it here (1:29:44) Visit the website

The aim of the Catlin Seaview Survey is to scientifically record the world’s coral reefs and reveal them to all of us in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision. The survey commenced in September 2012 on  the Great Barrier Reef and is currently charting Sydney Harbour. See images, watch videos of places of the world's reef beauty. Explore the survey vision

Trócaire, the Irish Catholic agency for world development, has produced an excellent animated resource for schools, 'Our World, Our Water', as part of its Lent 2014 campaign which focuses on the global water crisis. The animation deserves a broad audience. Watch the animation here. (3:16)

The Infographic 'Our World Our Water' is worth reading and appropriate for classroom use. Download it here (PDF)

Worth Visiting:

World Water Day website. The theme this year is 'Water and Energy'
Water.org : Safe water and the dignity of a toilet for all, in our lifetime.
Grace Communications Foundation: develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future.

Worth Reading:

Last month, in a 3-part interview in the blog Catholic Ecology, Christiana Peppard, an Assistant Professor of Theology, Science and Ethics at Fordham University, author of Just Water made the case that access to water is both a justice and a “Right-to-Life Issue.” Read the interview here

Dr Peppard has also collaborated on the production of two animations for schools which, like Trócaire's 'Our World, Our Water' can be used more broadly for information, stimulus and reflection.
Watch: Where we get our fresh water (3:47) and Fresh Water Scarcity: An Introduction to the Problem (3:39)

(Repeated) How Food, Water and Energy are Connected. Download the guide

'Johnson thinks a lot about how humans interact with ocean resources (like fish), and what drives us to exploit or conserve these resources. One question she returns to, over and over, is: How can we enable people to take a long-term view when it comes to the wealth of the oceans — 'to save some for later, to use the ocean without using it up?' Fom the newly published article How the Famous Marshmallow Study Explains Environmental Conservation: A marine biologist discovers the importance of behavioral economics. Read the article in The Atlantic

6 New Designs For Water Fountains, To Get You Off Bottled Water For Good. Do you know where the public water fountains are in your neighbourhood? Read the article

The River by Alessandro Sanna
'Illustrator Alessandro Sanna exposes with remarkable sensitivity that gossamer connection between the physicality of the land and our transcendent experience of the passage of time, the inner seasonality of being human. Through his soft watercolors shines the immutable light of existence.' Order online

Send your contributions for the "Worth..." section to: the Editor

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Directors: Sister Denise Fox (ANZ), Sister Patricia McDermott (US), Ron Ashworth (US), Peter Burnett (GB), Sister Margaret Casey (IRL), James Peppiatt-Combes (US) and Sister Denise Fox (ANZ)