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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 602  |  17 December 2014
Featured Story
175 Years of Mercy in Bermondsey 'Keeping the Flame of Faith Alive' (GB Institute)

The first convent of Mercy in England was founded in Bermondsey in 1839 by Catherine McAuley. This first foundation outside Ireland was the beginning of the global spread of Mercy.

Sisters of Mercy from across the world joined the Sisters of Mercy of the Institute at the celebrations held last month at St George's Cathedral Southwark to celebrate 175 years of continuous Mercy presence and response to need in Bermondsey.

We honour the past, celebrate the present and move with hope into the future.

Messages to: Colette Cronin rsm - Congregational Leader


Image: Sisters of Mercy present at the Eucharistic Celebration gathered on the sanctuary at St George's Cathedral Southwark

Vision in Action
Catholic Bishops’ Statement in Lima on the Road to Paris

MIA welcomes the announcement of the Catholic Bishops' statement in Lima on the road to Paris of 10 December 2014 in which Catholic Bishops from all continents in a joint statement highlighted their first-hand experience of working alongside vulnerable communities and described how people were suffering as a result of climate change.

Inspired by Gospel values and in the tradition of Catherine McAuley, MIA is committed consciously to raising awareness and to working with others, to restore our relationship with Earth and to redress injustice affecting those most impoverished in Earth’s community.

Suggesting responsibility for the current global warming system lies mainly with the dominant global economic system and 'convinced that everyone has a capacity to contribute to overcome climate change and to choose sustainable lifestyles', the Bishops called on 'all Catholics and people of good will to engage on the road to Paris as a starting point for a new life in harmony with Creation respecting planetary boundaries'. Paris in December 2015 is the venue for COP 21.

The Bishops' Statement can be downloaded in English and in Spanish here

The Pope's message to the organisers and participants at COP20 can be read here

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Image: Courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This year we have been blessed with a number of volunteers (listed in accompanying article)

Volunteers are in place for 2015 and are coming from Australia, New Zealand and United States of America. 

An advertisement for volunteers for 2016 will be published in E-News in February 2015 and volunteers will be organised in the following few months.

Thank you also to our regular volunteers (listed in accompanying article), to the presenters, facilitators and musicians (listed in accompanying article) who willingly donated their expertise, knowledge, understanding and talents to present outstanding programmes and those involved in the Young Mercy Leaders Programme, the 20th Anniversary Celebrations, 11th November and 12th December celebrations.

Mercy International Centre could not offer programmes, tours, celebrations, bed & breakfast or run efficiently each day without volunteers to support the staff.  Their contribution is highly valued and each person contributes in his/her own unique way.

Messages to: Sylvia Williams rsm – Assistant Director, Administration & Finance

Image: L-R: Anne Hetherington rsm (ISMAPNG) and Nuala O'Gorman rsm (The Congregation) making preparations for the 20th Anniversary celebrations

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A Mercy Global Action critical analysis of the proposed UN Sustainable Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which essentially guided global development since 2000, expire in 2015. The post-2015 development agenda is a United Nations process to set the international community’s development priorities for the next 15 years, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets (objectives) will be central to this agenda. In the current session of the General Assembly governments will enter a phase of negotiations on the proposed SDGs. World leaders are expected to adopt the finalized agenda at a Post-2015 Development Summit in New York in September 2015 and should then implement them with modifications suited to their respective domestic and international policies.

Since the beginning of the process, Mercy Global Action at the UN has been involved in advocacy work regarding the post-2015 agenda on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy worldwide....

Messages to:
Avery Kelly - MGA Intern
Áine O’Connor rsm - MGA Co-ordinator at the UN

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Editor: In this second article analysing the proposed UN Sustainable Development Goals, Avery Kelly and Aine O'Connor address the following:

-What are our main concerns with proposed SDG 1 (on ending poverty), and SDG10 (on reducing inequality)?

- What areas for advocacy is Mercy Global Action focusing on to address these concerns with proposed SDGs 1 and 10?

-As the Sustainable Development Goals take shape at the UN, what opportunities can you seize in the national arena to advocate for the ultimate eradication of poverty and global inequality?

Messages to:
Avery Kelly - MGA intern
Áine O'Connor rsm - MGA Co-ordinator at the UN

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MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week:

MIA joins with the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea in prayer with those suffering from Ebola and those caring for them.

We are invited by the Institute to use the reflection sheet they have prepared for use during the rest of December.

Download the prayer sheet here (PDF)

Post your own Prayer or Reflection in our online Chapel

Messages to:
Patricia McDermott rsm for ISMAPNG Prayer Focus Group
Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

As we bring this year of sharing our global Mercy story to its conclusion, a year in which we have experienced new ways of being connected, we invite all members of our Mercy family and network to tell us all how it has been for you in your ministry this year - through an anecdote, a greeting, a prayer, a wish, a dream you have or a plan for 2015.

Post your Christmas greeting online on the mercyworld.org site. Send these in by Friday, 19 December.

Messages to: the Editor

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God of love and mercy, touch with your healing power and restore to full health: Aileen O'Doherty, Emer Clancy, Shirley Magnusson 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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Mercy Enews

This bumper Christmas holiday issue is the second last issue of Mercy Enews for 2014.

The final issue for this year— which will include links to the items included in the Further Resources sections of each issue— will be published on Monday, 22 December in time for reading before Christmas!

Messages to: the Editor

MIA Members News

Deirdre Mullan rsm, the executive director of Mercy Reaches Mercy and consultant director of UNICEF, shared two short stories during her keynote address at Misericordia University’s 4th annual winter commencement ceremony on Sunday, 14 December that addressed the importance of leadership, Mercy and providing a voice for those who have been silenced...

During the commencement ceremony, Misericordia University presented Sister Deirdre with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree...

A Report of the Commencement Ceremony is linked to this item.

Sr Deirdre's Keynote Address can be read here (PDF)

Messages to: Deirdre Mullan rsm

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In an address to the recent November Meeting of Bishops and the Leaders of Religious Congregations in Sydney, Annette Schneider rsm shared her hopes regarding the Year of Consecrated Life in each of four areas:

-Our global context – the invitation issued by Pope Francis for religious to ‘wake up the world.’
-Our Australian and Asia Pacific context
-Each Congregation or Institute
-Each consecrated woman and man

Sr Annette's article is linked to this item.

Messages to: Annette Schneider rsm - ISMAPNG Vicar

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'Walking with people and sharing in their lives, their family’s lives, their joys and sorrows makes me so aware of God’s presence today. I’d like to think that most religious in New Zealand, no matter what their ministry, also see their vocation as privilege and they also experience God’s presence in the people they serve...'

From the presentation given by Mary Neven rsm to the Council of Priests for the Auckland Diocese at their recent meeting discussing the Year for Consecrated Life.

Sr Mary's presention, since published in NZ Catholic, is linked to this item.

Messages to Mary Neven rsm - Pastoral Assistant St Patricks Cathedral Auckland

Image: NZ Catholic

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Editor: In the Further Resources section of Mercy Enews Issue 598 (19 November), we published links to the 2 part presentation given by Rev Ruth Patterson, Presbyterian minister and Director of Restoration Ministries, at the CORI Annual Conference in Northern Ireland in late October.

This week we bring you the newly published reflection by Chris Hegarty rsm on Rev Ruth's 'vibrant and hope-filled message to men and women religious'. Sr Chris' reflection is linked to this item.

For those who missed out on reading the text of Rev Ruth's presentation, they can be accessed below:

- Session One: The Faithfulness of God (11pps; PDF)

- Session Two: Holders of the Promise (9pps; PDF)

Messages to: Chris Hegarty rsm

Image: Wikipedia

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Small Miracles Happen Every Day: The Mercy Education Project (Americas)

Since 1992, the Mercy Education Project (MEP) has been helping disadvantaged women and girls in Detroit achieve educational success through a range of programs.

As a sponsored ministry, Mercy Education Project receives support from the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community. Individuals, corporations, foundations, and other private and public entities also provide necessary financial and in-kind support to the agency.

A new 6-minute film produced by the Madonna University Field Production and Editing class that offers a vivid view into the world of MEP was posted on YouTube last week. Watch this inspiring video here 'You will see the dynamism of our women’s GED [high school diploma] program; the joyful character of our girls’ after-school tutoring program; and insightful interviews with our leaders.'

Messages to: Amy Amador - Executive Director


Stories of Change (Australia and PNG)

Mercy Works supports the local and overseas relief and development activities that are part of the vision and mission of the Sisters of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Twice yearly Mercy Works publishes its magazineThe Bilum, named after the handwoven string bags crafted and used by people in PNG for hundreds of years to carry their most precious and essential belongings. The December 2014  issue of The Bilum carries and communicates wonderful stories of the people involved in the many projects supported by Mercy Works.

Download the latest issue of The Bilum here (20pps; PDF)

Messages to: Ailsa MacKinnon rsm AM - Executive Director

The recent presentation and blessing of a korowai [ Maori feather] cloak, commissioned by Marian College’s whanau committee, has reaffirmed the central role that tikanga Maori [ Maori customs and traditions] plays at the school.

As a taonga [prized object or resource], the korowai recognises Maori achievement, said principal Anna Heffernan.

'It is designed to be worn by Maori students or people receiving awards for significant achievement in te reo Maori, tikanga Maori or bicultural involvement,” she said. Made by Jared and Melanie Riwai-Couch, the cloak incorporates Mercy (Catherine McAuley) and Josephite (Mary MacKillop) crosses embroidered by Barbara Te Miha to reflect the central role of those two charisms in the spiritual life of Marian College...'

Messages to: Anna Heffernan - Principal

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OLMC Parramatta's Mercy Tree Branches Out (Parramatta Congregation)

Editor: Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) in Australia is opening a new drop-in centre for asylum seekers in Western Sydney in January 2015: Arrupe Place, in Parramatta, the region that is home to New South Wales’ second-largest group of asylum seekers arriving by boat and living on bridging visas. Arrupe Place will be located in Coolock Cottage next to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Parramatta.

Fundraising efforts under the umbrella of Our Lady of Mercy College's (OLMC) Mercy Tree Social Justice Initiative will be used to provide food vouchers to the families and individuals who use this new service.

OLMC's Media Release (PDF)

Messages to: Christine Pace - Communications Officer OLMC Parramatta

History Continues: The Opening of Mary Place and Kirinari (Brisbane Congregation)

Editor: All Hallows' School, the first secondary school for girls in Queensland, Australia, was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1861. Since that time— as the All Hallows Story recounts and the photo gallery of buildings illustrates— the ongoing development of the educational environment has seen the building and naming of learning spaces that reflect the values, beliefs and traditions that characterise this Mercy school.

In the account linked to this item, Angela O'Malley explains the context for the newly opened five storey building (Mary Place) and of Kirinari, a newly created recreational space adjacent to it.

Download the article (PDF)

Messages to: Angela O'Malley - Director of Mission All Hallows' School

A special installation ‘Recognition Place’ in the grounds of St Vincent’s Convent, Nudgee which acknowledges and honours the First Peoples of Southern Queensland was opened on Wednesday ,10 December 2014.

The ceremony to officially ‘open’ Recognition Place at Nudgee marked the end of a long journey. In the second half of 2006, a group of Brisbane Sisters participated in a process organised and led by Aboriginal woman, Kerry Charlton, titled ‘Finding Ways Forward with Aboriginal Reconciliation and Healing Pathways’.  During the final session on 18 November 2006, one of the follow-up actions that surfaced was:

'on the Mercy land at Nudgee currently being developed, to install a permanent symbol of recognition of the original custodians, which would serve as a focus for reflection and prayer for the process of national reconciliation'...

Messages to: Wendy Flannery rsm

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Mercy Matters

Marian College is a Catholic integrated school for girls that combines high academic standards and a progressive approach to modern education with a genuine commitment to the values inherent in the traditions of two orders of religious, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Mercy

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Practical suggestions on better managing email.

Source: Linked in

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On This Day

1939: Opening of convent at Sans Souci, New South Wales from Broken Hill

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

Reflection: How Do the Sisters Bless You?

'...The places and spaces of Mercy sisters' ministry are at the intersection/crossroads of pain and promise, anguish and hope, need and new opportunity, and lost and found...'

-  John Collins C.Ss.R in Priesthood, ministry are about more than a role or status, Redemptorist says

Simple Ideas for the Journey: Self, Community and Ministry in an A4 page, professionally produced PDF.
A project of the Institute of the Americas Anti-racism Transformation Team.

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Submission to the inevitable is requisite for all who are willing to live in peace with mystery.

-Joanna Reagan

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Further Resources

Worth Reading:

Apostolic Visitation of US Women Religious

The long awaited final report on the Vatican's Apostolic Visitation of US women religious was released in Rome yesterday, 16 December, at a press conference. Watch the presentation of the report here (01:34:35)

A PDF copy of the final report on the Apostolic Visitation of US women religious, as well as the text of the remarks made during the press conference, have all been posted on the LCWR website. Read the Final Report and related materials here LCWR's response can be read here

Apostolic visitation report: Reactions and an interview with Sr. Sharon Holland can be found in the Global Sisters Report - A Project of NCR. Read it here

Year of Consecrated Life

Sr. Rita Larivée, SSA, President of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), speaks of the importance of the Year of Consecrated Life and presents the activities planned by the Canadian Religious Conference to celebrate this Year. 'The year is significant because it is forcing us to do an interior search...' Watch the video here (15:50)

Religious Life

'Religious Life in the U.S.: A Vocation of Border Crossing' byJung Eun Sophia Park, S.N.J.M appears in the latest issue of New Theology Review (NTR), Vol 27, No 1 (2014), published by Catholic Theological Union (CTU) Chicago. Online and available without charge, the article can be read here (7pps; PDF)

'Sisters' History is Women's History' This essay by Syracuse University professor Margaret Susan Thompson considers the approach taken by 4 authors on writing the history of women religious. Published in the Journal of Women's History, Volume 26, Number 4, Winter 2014, pp.182-190. Read the article here (10 pps; PDF)

Opposing Human Trafficking

The statement for the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2015, 'No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters', was released 10 December at a Vatican news conference led by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The statement which stresses individual responsibility can be read here

'...we must never for a moment forget that we are each our brother’s keepers, and that a part of ourselves is trafficked every time a brother or sister of ours is...' Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) from the newly released Pastoral Letter on Human Trafficking. Read the Letter here

The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Human Trafficking Initiative and the Massachusetts Medical Society Committee on Violence Intervention and Prevention have worked in partnership to create the first edition of Human Trafficking: Guidebook on Identification, Assessment, and Response in the Health Care Setting to educate and resource health care providers. The Guidebook can be downloaded here (56 pps; PDF)

Cosmology and Ecojustice

'More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.' Read the article in theguardian online

Worth Playing:

Calm me Lord by Margaret Rizza. As its name suggests, this track slows one down with a mantra style chant that is at once soothing and meditative. Listen/watch it here (04:55). Margaret's interview with Sally Harper 'A Music Birthed Through Silence' gives insight into the process by which Margaret came to write such music and how prayer underpins all her compositions. Read it here

Worth Watching:

Pope Francis

'Politics and the Pope', topic of the Kennedy Library Forum held last week. Boston Globe writers James Carroll and Neil Swidey, author Mary Gordon, and Sister Simone Campbell, organizer of “Nuns on the Bus,” discussed Pope Francis and what the shifts initiated by his papacy might mean for both domestic and world politics. Margery Eagan, columnist for The Boston Globe's Catholicism-news website, Crux, moderated. Watch it here (01:31:42)

Send suggestions and contributions for the 'Worth...' section 2015 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)