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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 599  |  26 November 2014
Featured Story

Mary de Lourdes rsm shares news of the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and writes about her work to support those newly-arrived in Lebanon to help them set up their new life.

 At first glance, Douris in northern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley is a seemingly normal rural village. Poultry farms and cowsheds dot the landscape. But hidden from obvious view is a growing problem — Syrian refugees who have fewer and fewer safe places to live. A look inside the poultry farms and the barns reveals a sad truth — refugee families are now living where chickens and cows lived just a year ago. In many cases, they are paying over $100 per month just to have a leaking roof over their heads and cow manure under their feet...

Messages to: Mary de Lourdes rsm


Image: Wikipedia. Syrian refugees in Lebanon living in cramped quarters (6 August 2012)

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Vision in Action

'... Among our learnings from the 20th anniversary celebrations is the immense possibility we have for global interconnection and the openness there is among so many to share Mercy life together – so we are availing of this particular year to offer the opportunity for ongoing interconnectedness and sharing of Mercy life. The themes and process are not confined to Religious but invite all, especially members of our Mercy Global family to participate in this process

Here is the proposed plan:

Twelve Sisters have been invited to write a paper.

Each month will have a specific emphasis, related to a Mercy theme or focus. The 12 topics being offered are: Hospitality, Compassion, Mercy through an ecological lens, Courage, Forgiveness, Trust in Providence, Right Relations, Service, Respect, Women & Children, Justice and Ordinariness.

Each theme/focus will have a 4 week cycle: Reading, Study, Sharing, Prayer...

Further details are linked to this item.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

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Important UN Dates for the Mercy Family

The UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign marks the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women (25 November) and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. The campaign aims to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. Further details can be found here

World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has announced that taking a Fast-Track approach over the next five years will allow the world to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The World AIDS Day Report 2014 can be found here

The 2014 World AIDS Day Prayer Service produced by the AIDS Committee of the IHM Sisters, Monroe, Michigan can be accessed here.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, marks the date of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others in 1949. The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labor, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. More information is available here

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Aine O’Connor rsm, Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the UN and Denise Boyle fmdm, MIA Assistant Director - Mercy Global Action, visited Mercy South Africa during the week of 2-8 November.  The purpose of the visit was threefold: to spend time with the Sisters; to see firsthand their work-for-justice; and to identify Sisters who would like to engage more with the Mercy Global Action programme.  Kathy Rule rsm very kindly facilitated our visit ensuring that we met as many Sisters as possible and saw most of the Mercy run projects in Pretoria and Johannesburg...

Messages to: Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director Mercy Global Action

Image: L-r: Denise Boyle fmdm with Mercy Sisters in Soweto

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Editor: This image now appears on the homepage of mercyworld.org to provide immediate access to the archived 20th anniversary videos which we know are still attracting new and repeat viewers. Click on this image where it appears (far right, lower down) on the homepage of mercyworld.org  and you will be taken directly to the archived videos.

To make it even easier to locate the video you want to watch— and so you don't have to scroll through the list to find it— the videos have each  been made accessible by direct link.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

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God of love and mercy, touch with your healing power and restore to full health: Sean Maguire and his family, Gina Latauro and family and all whose names are on our prayer list.

We ask this with confidence through the intercession of Venerable Catherine McAuley. Amen.

Messages to: the Vice postulators

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MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week:

From the Week of Prayer for Syria, Third day: Comfort those who mourn their loved ones. We first published this prayer on 4 September, 2013. Let us continue to pray it.

'We pray for the victims of this war. For all of them, and each one of them. They are not numbers, but names, members of a family. They are mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They are our brothers and sisters, children of God who created them in His image and likeness. We pray that the right to life of every person be respected and defended.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for Syria, pray for us.'

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

MIA Members News
Invitation to Prayer on the Eve of the Year of Consecrated Life (ISMAPNG)

The Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea invite you to join them in prayer on the eve of the commencement of the Year of Consecrated Life.

The reflection and prayer draws on material from 'Rejoice! A letter to Consecrated Men and Women' from the teachings of Pope Francis.

Download the reflection and prayer here (5pps; PDF)

Messages to: Helen Baguley rsm

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, who have been advocating for comprehensive immigration reform for years, are grateful that President Obama has taken executive action on immigration policy to protect undocumented parents from deportation. Despite the House of Representatives’ inability to address the broken immigration system, the President has ensured that five million immigrants in the United States will no longer fear separation from their families.

Messages to: Anne Curtis rsm - Institute Leadership Team

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A Novus Habitus Mentis: Canon Law as Empowerment of Communio (The Congregation)

Editor: In Mercy E-news Issue 552  (12 February 2014) we alerted readers to an article on The Congregation's website wherein Bonaventure Higgins rsm provided an overview of her doctoral study, the inspiration for which arose from the Gospel call to community, the teaching of Vatican II and the study of Canon Law. At the end of the article Sr. Bonaventure wrote ‘I am currently engaged in getting the thesis published.’

Well the thesis has now been published by the Edwin Mellen Press. An outline, Reviews and Table of Contents is provided with the listing. This information, as well as details of how to purchase this book from the publisher, can be found here.

Congratulations Sr Bonaventure!

Messages to: Bonaventure Higgins rsm

Image: L-r: Dr Elizabeth Cotter IBVM (supervisor) with Sr Bonaventure

Three building names on Mater Hill Brisbane, Australia will change at the end of November, reflecting on Mater’s rich heritage and also focusing on plans for the organisation’s future.

From 29 November, Mater Adult Hospital, the Mater Children’s Hospital building and Mater Corporate Services Building will be renamed—the latter two after former Sisters of Mercy, Mother Alban Salmon, (1880 – 1951) and Mother Damian Duncombe OBE, (1899 – 1980)...

Messages to: Media Officer Mater Health Services

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Last month, the new state of the art O’Regan Arts and Cultural Common at Sant' Angelo Mercy College North Sydnewas officially opened by Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and blessed by Bishop Terence Brady DD VG.

Over 500 Monte friends and community joined with Mrs Nicole Christensen, our College Principal, the Sisters of Mercy North Sydney, Mr Steven Rubic, College Chair and members of the College Board, students and staff to celebrate this historic day.

An excerpt from the speech given by Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO can be read here (PDF)

Messages to: Loreto Conroy rsm - Congregational Leader

Image: L-r: Loreto Conroy rsm, Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO, Monte student

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Sister Carmel Blackburn R.I.P. (Federation - Guernsey)

Editor: Sister Mary Carmel Blackburn died peacefully at the Convent of Mercy, Cordier Hill, on Friday, 7 November, 2014 in the presence of her Community and her sister, Sister Mary Dolores.

SIster Carmel was known to many Sisters through her attendance at leadership meetings and so Sr Ita Keane, Director of St. Mary’s Convent Handsworth, Birmingham, has written the attached tribute for circulation through Mercy Enews so that those who knew Sr Mary Carmel will receive the news.

Download the attached tribute (PDF)

Messages to: Sr Ita Keane rsm

Mercy Matters
PERFECT CHARITY: Women Religious Living the Spirit of Vatican II (New resource)

This newly published book is based on a series of interviews that tells the personal stories of dramatic changes that fourteen religious women— including Veronica Lawson rsm (ISMAPNG) and Patricia Powell rsm (ISMAPNG)— experienced as the result of the Second Vatican Council’s Instruction on the Renewal of Religious Life.

Further information and details of how to order the book can be downloaded here (PDF)

Orders can be mailed (address on order form) or emailed to: Sales@morningstarpublishing.net.au

Know of another new resource concerning religious life, featuring or of interest to our Mercy readership? Please contact the Editor

1860: Foundation to Gravesend, Kent from Bermondsey.
Editor: Sisters of Mercy Gravesend Kent is this week's featured Mercy website

1862: Sisters take charge of Stanton Military Hospital during Civil War

Editor. Interesting and accessible articles on the role played by Sisters of Mercy during the Civil War include:
'Hospital Nuns: From the Civil War to Today' by Mary Pat Kelly in Irish America (2013)

'Union's top military nurses were nuns' by Ann Rodgers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2013)

1878: Foundation to Cappoquin from Wexford - M Catherine Devereaux
1985: Establishment of Mercy Associates, Auckland

Submit a fact about the Story of the Sisters of Mercy for our online archive

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We are a group of religious women who live in community and dedicate our lives to God by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and the service of the poor.

In keeping with the Gospel teaching, we try to promote human dignity and social justice, especially with the poor, the needy and the marginalized.

Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel joyfully in diverse ministries - teaching, nursing, care of the elderly, care of the homeless and working in parishes to help people develop their spiritual lives.

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' ...If we understand Catherine McAuley's integrated spirituality - her 'ardent desire to be united with God and to serve the poor...' we see that there was no dichotomy between her life of prayer and her life of service. Prayer and ministry were both contemplative experiences, one invigorating the other in a harmonious cyclical movement. For Catherine, love of God and love of neighbour are cause and effect.

- Bonnie Brennan rsm (The Congregation), Forward, 'The Mystical Heart of Catherine McAuley'

'What is happiness? Watch this video to learn about happiness, how you can be happier yourself, and how you can spread that happiness to others. (03:31)...'

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'Be slow to censure, and slower still to condemn.'

-Catherine McAuley

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Further Resources

Worth Reading:
Opposing Human Trafficking

The second edition of the Global Slavery Index which estimates the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries is now available. Readers can View the Findings; Download the Report, Download the Data and View the Methodology used in the report at the Global Slavery Index website

Cosmology & Eco-justice
'The sustainability challenge is huge, and will require wholesale changes to the world’s economies. Because of its potentially devastating impact on the poor on all continents, the church has a strong interest in mounting a robust response this century to the challenge of sustainable development...' The article 'Renew This World: A churchwide strategy for a sustainable planet', published in 'America' magazine can be read here

Religious Life

Helen Maher Garvey, BVM who wrote the Introduction to 'Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times: Presidential Addresses from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (2014)' and who was president of LCWR from 1986-1989, has written 'I Want to Be a Sister', published last week in 'Commonweal'. Read the article here

The Renewal of Religious Life Is Ongoing, by Gaétanne Guillemette, NDPS
This article was first published in the CRC Bulletin, Volume 11, issue 2. The theme of the Bulletin was 'Who Are We Post-Vatican II Religious Now and Where Are We Headed?'  The Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) has drawn the attention of its website visitors to this article, as a 'timely article' in this Year of Consecrated Life. Download the article here (4 pps; PDF). CRC Bulletins Fall - Winter 2006 (vol 3; issue 2) - Fall 2014 (vol 11; issue 3) can all be downloaded here


The December issue of Update, newsletter of LCWR is now online. Read it here (12 pps; PDF)

Worth Watching:

Opposing Human Trafficking: The Garment Industry

'Planet Money makes a T-Shirt'. The world behind a simple shirt, in five chapters: 'Cotton', 'Machines', 'People', 'Boxes', 'You'. The chapter 'People' is concerned with the lives of the workers in Bangladesh and Colombia who make our shirts, women like Jasmine and Doris working long hours in difficult conditions, dreaming of better lives for their families. (06:21)

Worth Playing:

'Happy' by Pharrell Williams. Syrian refugees at Darasakran refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq who have had everything taken from them – their homes, education, security, innocence, and often their families, too – still find joy in dancing. Watch it here


Send suggestions and 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 Colette Cronin (GB), Mary Moorhead (IRL), Kevin Hoy (IRL), Sister Margaret Casey (IRL), Sister Scholasticah Nganda (IRL)