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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 608  |  18 February 2015
Featured Story

'...Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God...a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference...'

-Pope Francis' Lenten Message 2015 "Make your hearts firm" (James 5:8)


Image: iStock. Used under licence

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Vision in Action
Join in the Conversations about topics of importance to the Mercy Network

Editor: There are a number of online conversations on our public site. We invite you to share your thoughts and reflections online on one or more of the following topics:

'Daring Hospitality - I was a stranger and you welcomed me'.  Respond to the reflective sharing by Elizabeth Davis rsm

Called to Action 'to Eradicate the Terrible Scourge of Modern Slavery in all its Forms' by Anne Tormey rsm. Share your response to this paper on Human Trafficking, a priority issue for Mercy International Association.

World Day of the Sick: 'Time spent with the sick is holy time'. Respond to any/the series of personal reflections on the Mercy ministry of healing.

Forthcoming: Next week (Issue 609, 25 February 2015) we are publishing the second of our Year of Consecrated Life (YCL) themes. Breege O'Neill rsm (The Congregation) will engage us in reflective sharing on the topic: Called to Compassion. Once again, you are warmly invited to share your reflections online.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA






During this Year of Consecrated Life we invite each member of the Mercy family - Associates, Partners-in-ministry, Donors, Friends - to pray our specially composed MIA prayer for the Sisters and the Sisters to pray it for each other.

Let us pray also that the God of Mercy will continue to bless the Mercy family with people prepared to witness to the mercy and tenderness of our God as Religious, Associates and Partners-in-ministry in a world so in need of God’s compassion and consolation.

We invite you to share with us all how you are using this prayer. At Mercy International Centre we are gathering each week to pray this prayer for the Sisters and for each other.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

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Volunteers need to be able to commit to 8 – 12 weeks between 17 January & 30 November, 2016

Volunteer positions are open to Sisters, Associates and Friends of Mercy.
Single person or couple.

Further details are linked to this item

Applications will be accepted up to 13 March 2015.

Please send a simple Curriculum Vitae, including your preferred dates, to:

Sylvia Williams rsm
Assistant Director-Administration & Finance

Messages to: Sylvia Williams rsm 

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MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week

'As we begin our Lenten experience, God is waiting to receive us. He already knows the wounds we will bring to the conversation. He already sees where our heart’s light has dimmed. He holds our half-heartedness next to his own heart and yearns to heal us.

Can we hear God’s unique invitation to us in this Lenten season? Can we confidently expose to his gaze the depth of our need for grace and transformation? Can we journey with Christ, though his passion and death, to the wholeness we are called to?'

Source: A Reflection on Ash Wednesday and the First Week of Lent: Renee Yann rsm for CHA USA

Messages to:
Renee Yann rsm (Americas) - Author
Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

The MGAN (Mercy Global Action Network) working group had an informative and good discussion via a Connect call on 28 January. Members logged into the meeting from Australia, Canada, Ireland and the USA, with Anne Walsh expertly facilitating the technical aspect of the meeting from Australia.  The meeting opened with an update from each participant, a valuable means of sharing, exchanging ideas and fostering a sense of working together on key justice issues. Aine O’Connor gave a clear, comprehensive update on the ongoing progress of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in the context of the UN post 2015 Development Agenda...

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

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God of love and mercy, touch with your healing power and restore to full health: Imelda Stewart, Bill Sweeten, Baby Sadhbh Browne - 6 weeks old, Rae Geaney, Mairead Granahan, Rosemary Carlson, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson 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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Forthcoming: Two New Programs at MIC in 2015

Marianne Hieb rsm (left - Americas) whom we 'met' in last week's Mercy eNews (Issue 607) and Oonagh Campbell rsm (right- The Congregation) are jointly facilitating two new programs at MIC this year:

Seeking Mercy That is Twice Blest (Thursday, 7 May – Wednesday, 13 May)
Summary: This programme will facilitate participants to explore, listen to, experience and reflect upon how this quality of mercy is present at this time in the cosmic dance of the ‘One’ who ‘Is’.

A Thomas Merton Centenary Event - Mercy within Mercy within Mercy (Saturday, 9 August -Saturday,15 August)
Summary: The prayer practice of Art- Journaling will be one of the tools we employ as a response to gazing at Merton’s black and white calligraphies. We will also encourage a personal journaling practice to accompany the movement of our days of retreat.
Visits to significant Mercy sites, and the ability to investigate in a contemplative way some of the visual and verbal treasures in our own Heritage space will enhance our coming together.

Further information on these and other programs being held at MIC in 2015 can be read here.

Messages to: Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm - Assistant Director Heritage & Spirituality

On Tuesday 10 February, nine members of the Global Action - Opposing Human Trafficking group (OHT) from Australia, Ireland, England and the United States, gathered for an hour and a half via Adobe Connect for a special session with Elizabeth (Liz) Dowling rsm (ISMAPNG), who is the Theologian working with our group.

Liz led us through a very moving and thought provoking reflection on The Beatitudes of Matthew’s Gospel, based on the work of Elaine Wainwright rsm. Prior to our meeting Liz had circulated some reading material on the theme, asking us to reflect critically on our experiences in relation to human trafficking over the past 12 months, with an invitation to be ready to share questions arising from these experiences. Our sharing proved to be a good lead in to the beautiful power point presentation that Liz walked us through during her 40 minute input...

Messages to:
Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director Mercy Global Action
Elizabeth Dowling rsm - Theologian

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MIA Members News
Mercy Produced Resources for your Lenten Journey (Americas)

There are many resources available to draw on for your Lenten journey. Here are some produced by members of the Mercy family and available to us all at no charge:

Renee Yann rsm, Chief Mission Integration Officer at Amerihealth Caritas in Philadelphia, has produced the 2015 Lenten Reflections for the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHAUSA). These beautifully worded reflections are available in mp3 format, as word documents and as PDFs for download here We are encouraged to share these widely.

Messages to: Renee Yann rsm

Ryan Murphy (Institute Justice Team) is a contributor to the Justice for Immigrants Toolkit, produced for the United States Bishops Conference (USCCB). These reflections draw on the US experience and invite us to pray, fast, learn, give and advocate for just and humane immigration reform, in solidarity with immigrants and refugees. The kit is available for download in English here (31pps; PDF) and will be available for download in Spanish here

Messages to: Institute Justice Team

Sisters in the West Midwest Community will offer guided reflections on the Stations of the Cross each Wednesday and Friday. These will be emailed to subscribers. Sign up here to receive these reflections.

Messages to: Sandy Goetzinger -WMW Director of Communications

Image: Inca trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu in Perú. licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Spain license.

Editor: Mercy International Association, the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation and Earth Link, a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation, have joined the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Leadership Team (see Mercy eNews Issue 604, 21 January) in membership of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM). Individuals can join as well as organisations/groups. Become a signatory to this Statement, and add your voice on behalf of all creation.

The GCCM has organised a global fast for climate justice, joining the year-long #FastForTheClimate (English);
# a yuno porelclima (Spanish) interfaith effort. On each of the 40 days of Lent a different country will have Catholics and other Christians fasting and praying for action to solve the climate change crisis.

45 countries have already confirmed participation in the Fast on a designated date, with more expected to sign on. Check the calendar for your country's date and consider signing up for the Lenten Fast. Note the health advice re fasting.

Messages to: the Global Catholic Climate Movement

In Australia, the CLRI (NSW) Social Justice Committee of which Margaret Hinchey rsm is a member is promoting a Lenten Carbon Fast calender. Download the calendar here (3pps, PDF)

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Editor: Ann Gilroy rsj, Editor of Tui Motu, an independent Catholic magazine, writes in the February issue, 'We’re introducing a new serial feature this year. Month by month Elaine Wainwright will engage us in an interpretation of the gospel of Mark from an ecological perspective. Usually when we read or hear scripture we concentrate on the human and divine characters in the story. Elaine will focus us on how the environment also plays a part in the meaning of the story. Coupled with Kath Rushton’s regular reflection on the Sunday readings, we hope that in this Year of Mark the gospel will unfold afresh for us.'

Elaine's first article in the series is online on the Tui Motu website under the heading 'Most recent articles'. The site is also linked to this item.
Support Tui Motu - a subscription form is linked here.

Messages to:
Elaine Wainwright rsm - Independent Scholar
Ann Gilroy rsj - Editor Tui Motu

Image: The River Jordan and surrounding wilderness. Source: Tui Motu

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Five Day Burren Outdoor Retreat (The Congregation)

Come on a guided journey through the Burren with its limestone pavements, rare flora and ancient sacred sites.  Let the silence and beauty of this unique landscape unfold its mysteries and renew you in body and soul. 
Dates: Thursday 30 April to Tuesday 5 May.
Venue: Ibricken Lodge FCJ, Spanish Point, Co Clare. 
Facilitators: Noirin Long rsm and Mary Lillis rsm.
Cost: €400.

View more photos of the extraordinary beauty of this location on our Facebook page

Messages to:
Noirin Long rsm 
Mary Lillis rsm

Editor: We welcome details of Mercy retreat opportunities, conferences and talks of interest to our global readership. Send details of your event to the Editor

Ann Lenihan rsm writes: 'As we celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life it seems very fitting that this year, 2014 – 2015, is also designated, by the Church, as the Year of Columbanus, [commemorating  the 1400th anniversary of his death]. This Irish monk, who played a major role in rekindling the Christian Faith in Europe during the “Dark Ages", is probably the most significant Irish religious figure of all time. Pope Pius X1 said that “the rebirth of Christian wisdom in Europe can be attributed to the labour and fervour of Columban”. He has been called a “messenger of blessing”  to Europe, a light in the darkness that prevailed after the fall of the Roman Empire. Even though he himself founded only five monasteries - Annegray, Luxeuil, Fontaines in France, Bregenz in Switzerland and Bobbio in Italy - hundreds of monasteries throughout Europe trace their origin to his monks and also followed the Rule of Columbanus for centuries...'

Messages to: Ann Lenihan rsm

Editor: In Issue 564, 07 May 2014, we included Sr Ann's absorbing account of walking the Via Francigena (sometimes called the Italian Camino), making known some of the discoveries to be made along the route of this less familiar pilgrimage. Read that article here on The Congregation's website.

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Mercy Sister Offers the Prayer for the Poor at National Prayer Breakfast (Americas)

Editor: The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February each year. It brings together elected officials and political leaders.This year the Prayer for the Poor was offered by Mary Scullion rsm. Sr Mary is a co-founder and Executive Director of Project Home, a Philadelphia non-profit organization empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, health care, and education.

Sr Mary shared the stage with President and Michele Obama, the Papal Nuncio and other faith leaders, including the Dalai Lama. A message was also sent from Pope Francis for the meeting. In attendance were 3,200 people from all 50 U.S. states and 140 countries.

A video of Sr Mary offering the Prayer for the Poor can be viewed here

Sr Mary's prayer calls us 'to move beyond our ideological polarizations and economic disparities' and to understand 'that [God's] ancient call for compassion and justice is in truth an invitation to all of us to a fullness of life and a richness of human community....'

The complete text of Sr Mary's prayer can be prayed here

Messages to: Mary Scullion rsm

Mercy Matters

'Our charity must be in our hearts and from our hearts, and a charity such as Jesus Christ practiced while on earth.'

Catherine McAuley, Retreat Instructions, p. 148

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1918: Opening of Villa Maria College, Christchurch

Editor: Villa Maria is this week's featured Mercy website

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

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The Gospel Reflections for the five Sundays of Lent and for Passion Sunday (22 February - 29 March) are now online and linked to this item.

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Villa Maria College is a state integrated Catholic secondary school for girls in years 7 - 13. Situated near the University of Canterbury in Upper Riccarton, Christchurch, Villa Maria College has been providing educational excellence under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy since 1918.

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Heart health

Mercy Health (formerly Catholic Health Partners), a Catholic healthcare ministry serving Ohio and Kentucky, has put together some information about heart issues and treatments. Published online on 3 February, these videos are part of their ongoing 'Helping You Be Well' video series

What are symptoms of heart attacks and strokes? (02:10)

Is there anything I can do to prevent a heart attack or stroke? (01:08)

How do you treat someone having a heart attack or stroke? (01:52)

Editor: As of 13 February, Facebook is letting users in the USA designate a 'legacy contact' who can take control of an account after their death. Other regions are expected to follow. This development is a good reminder to us all to have arrangements in place to deal with our social network accounts - be it appoint a 'digital heir', or have our presence deleted entirely. This article from the WSJ includes instructions on how to designate your wishes on your Facebook account.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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Further Resources

Worth Playing:

'Beyond the Days of Hope and Mystery/ We see a Light of Faith renewed/ And in Our Longing We Thirst for Guidance/ To Walk With You.' Lyrics from 'Beyond the Days' sung by Mary Ellen Kopp. Listen and watch it here (04:08)

Worth considering:

Pray As You Go and Sacred Space, ministries of the Jesuits, are jointly offering an online Retreat following the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus as it was experienced by women in the company of Jesus. There is no cost to participate. Instructions can be found here

Worth Reading:

'Lent is about our ability to be thankful and out of this to see the things we need to change. It invites us to find solutions by the time we get to Easter. It is not just about personal changes. It is about those several dimensions of our lives that make us fully living persons within the church, in society, and as participants in God’s wider creation. "Live simply that others may simply live."'  Read the article here

Opposing Human Trafficking

'Statelessness increases risk factors that influence the likelihood to fall victim to trafficking, such as lack of education and the ability to deal with a sudden crisis. A combination of risk factors may push stateless people to decide to migrate and take risks to be able to do so. These are conclusions from new research by Tilburg University into the relationship between statelessness and human trafficking in Thailand.' Read the article here

Cosmology and Ecojustice

'Religions and faith-based organizations are partners for sustainable development, and will be potent agents of the achievement of the post-2015 sustainable development goals, as they have been for the MDGs and, indeed, in the history of humanity...' Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, 6 February 2015. Read/Listen to the Address by Archbishop Auza here

'U.N. Climate Talks Advance Link Between Gender and Climate Change'

“Women and girls are differentially impacted by climate change. More importantly, they are agents, they have been contributing to climate solutions, especially at the community level." -- Verona Collantes, intergovernmental specialist of UN Women. Read the article here


Complementing our featured quote this week is the book  'Aspects of the Heart: The Many Paths to a Good Life' by Joan Chittister OSB, Twenty-Third Publications (2012). 'Everything we do in life, the scripture reminds us, goes into the treasury of the heart', says Sr Joan In this slim volume she reflects on 50 "aspects" of what our hearts can attain, ranging from 'an attentive heart' to 'an hospitable heart', from 'an invested heart' to 'a wise heart'. Order online from:  Benetvision Store * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Worth Watching:

Opposing Human Trafficking

The New Colossus, a Non Profit focused on education and awareness of Sex Trafficking in South Dakota and the Midwest USA has recently released a video clip "The Sky Is Falling (Patti Jo's Prayer)" - Steve Azar (04:42). Play/watch it here Second Level (Secondary) Teachers this could be a suitable resource for your classes on this subject.

Awakening the Wisdom of the Heart - The Contemplative Alliance

This film was created by the Global Peace Initiative of Women GPIW and the Contemplative Alliance at "Awakening the Wisdom of the Heart" dialogue in partnership with Naropa University in Boulder Colorado, April 2014. Watch it here (16:17).

In  Memoriam: Sieger Köder RIP

'The German priest painter Sieger Köder has died in Ellwangen, Germany, on February 9th 2015, shortly after his 90th birthday. Trained as a silversmith and painter, Köder was a prisoner of war during World War II and became an art teacher before studying theology in Tübingen and being ordained a priest. He combined his vocation as a parish priest with his work as an artist, producing numerous paintings, altarpieces and stained glass windows for churches within and outside Germany. He continued painting long into his retirement.' Read more here

Send suggestions and contributions for the 'Worth...' section 2015 to: the Editor

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Certificate Number 194263. Public Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered Office: Mercy International Association, 11 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. Registered Charity no CHY 10078
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)