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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 609  |  25 February 2015
Featured Story

In Manila some weeks ago a profound encounter was witnessed by thousands of people. Pope Francis was being welcomed by a young girl, Glyzelle Palomar, when she broke down and through her tears she asked the question: "Why do children suffer”?

Pope Francis did not respond with a theological lecture on the mystery of evil. Instead, visibly moved, he reached out and hugged Glyzelle, affirmed her tears, and then diverging from his prepared speech he responded from the heart saying, "Only when we are able to weep about the things that you lived can we understand something and answer something.….. Today's world needs to weep," he said. "The marginalized weep, those left aside weep, the scorned weep ... but those of us who lead a life more or less without needs, don't know how to weep….. Certain realities of life are only seen with eyes cleansed by tears”.

This encounter between Glyzelle Palomar and Pope Francis personifies the essence of compassion – an ability to enter into the suffering of another and feel it as one’s own...

Messages to: Breege O'Neill rsm


Image: 'Compassion' by Mary Southard, CSJ www.MarySouthardArt.Org Licence: Non- Commercial Usage. Used with permission. Congregation of St. Joseph of LaGrange retains the rights, specifically including the ownership of original art/words and copyright.

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Vision in Action
'Come Home to Catherine' Program

Áine Barrins rsm (left - The Congregation) and Anne Reid (right - Mercy Associate) co-facilitate the Come Home to Catherine program.

Recalling the origins and appeal of the Come Home to Catherine program last year, now in its 17th year and over one hundred programs later, Anne Reid wrote, 'Mercy people both men and women still desire to come to her places and spaces, even from countries that Catherine never heard of in her day. They want to get to know her and know about her. They want to be inspired by her continued presence in our midst and by her influence in our world.' That article, including participant reflections over the years, can be read here

There are two opportunities this year for Mercy people to 'get to know' Catherine in her 'places and spaces':

  • Sunday, 26 April - Saturday, 2 May
  • Sunday, 14 June - Saturday 20 June

Further details of the program and costs can be found here (PDF)

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

MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week

'Loving God

We seek you with our whole heart and soul. May our Lenten pilgrimage bring us to Easter joy, along the path of prayer and good works.

We make our request in the name of Jesus who has gone before us in the way of salvation.


from Morning Prayer for Lent, Wednesday First, Third and Fifth Weeks, in Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy

Messages to: Mary Reynolds - Executive Director MIA

Editor: A reminder that Mercy Produced Resources for your Lenten Journey can be found here

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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God of love and mercy, touch with your healing power and restore to full health: John Schlegel SJ  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 Members News

'Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community traveled to Acora, Peru, this past December to celebrate a vital Mercy link established in 1964. Sister Biviana Chique Espezua made final vows and Sister Carmen Rosa Ccallomamani celebrated her 25th jubilee in the Church of San Juan Evangelista in Acora on Dec 13. Thirty-nine sisters of Mercy came from areas of Peru and the U.S. to recognize the 50th anniversary of a community begun in hope as a mission from Burlingame...

“An image of the days of celebration that stays with me is that of a huge tapestry," said Sister Deborah Watson, who is now in Argentina. “Past, present and future were beautifully woven together in Aymara, Spanish and English. History was so well remembered and represented, especially in the person of Regina Bailey, who served in Peru from 1965-1975, one of the first ‘Peru missionaries.’ Then for me Carmen Rosa symbolized the present, the community in Peru expanding the Circle of Mercy and reaching out in compassion to those most in need. And in Biviana, fully beginning her life in Mercy, we live our hope for the future and our commitment to search for ever more creative and effective ways to minister...”'

Source: Catholic San Francisco

Messages to: Liz Dossa- Communications Manager for the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community

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In 2011, a year commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first members of the congregation in Queensland, the Brisbane Sisters of Mercy determined that we would pursue advocacy for justice in three areas - one of which was the relationship between those whose history in this land dates back 60,000+ years and those of us who have arrived here so recently. The non-recognition of this reality in the founding document of our nation is a grave omission which we believe all Australians are now being called to address.  Our political leaders are broadly supportive of such a referendum but historically success in such a vote is not easy to achieve. As the 1967 referendum proved the wider community must be engaged.  We Sisters felt the need to hear the perspectives of those most directly involved – the Indigenous members of our nation. We believed that others would also be keen to join such a conversation. 

On 17 February, the Brisbane Sisters of Mercy brought together an expert panel to discuss the proposed referendum on recognition in our Federal Constitution of the prior and continuing presence in this land of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples...

Messages to: Genevieve Caffery rsm

Images: Members of the Expert Panel

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The Sisters of Mercy Parramatta welcomed the opportunity in August 2014, to make a written submission to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The full text of the written submission from the Parramatta Mercy Congregation can be accessed here.

Following this written submission, the Sisters were invited to speak to the Committee, and Sr Margaret Hinchey, a passionate social justice advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, represented the Parramatta Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy at a session in Sydney on 19 February...

The full text of Sr Margaret's presentation to the Committee can be accessed here

Messages to: Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation

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Nga mihi atawhai - greetings to all in Mercy! The theme proposed for our reflection this month by Mercy International is compassion or aroha, as we know it from our list of Mercy core values. Described within our healthcare facilities as the ability to act with understanding and sensitivity, compassion derives from a combination of two Latin words meaning ‘to suffer with’. It’s a word that is never far from the life and witness of Catherine McAuley, whose gaze was always drawn to those who suffered any kind of need...

from Imaging Mercy Today, produced for He Waka Tiaki, the mission team of Tiaki Manatu, Sisters of Mercy NZ Ministries Trust, February 2015

Messages to: Katrina Fabish - Congregation Leader

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Mercy Founder of ARISE Honoured by Local Community (Americas)

24 years ago Gerrie Naughton rsm founded ARISE, a grassroots organisation of women for women, in  Las Milpas, a poor colonia along the south Texas border with Mexico. Today 30 women on ARISE’s staff provide direct services through four Arise centers to over 1000 families in the colonias.

As the members of ARISE see it, the key to empowerment is for women to help other women see that they have talents and gifts that they can use to improve themselves, their families, and their community.

Sr Gerrie has now been publicly honoured for her work with women by the creation of a trading card, part of the building community heroes project (card no. 21). These cards recognize the people working tirelessly, but often without acknowledgement, to make Dallas, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley better and more just places for all. The series ties together present-day community leaders and past figures, including leaders across Arts, Education, Environment, Neighborhood Activism, Civil Rights, Civil Service, and other categories. Sr Gerrie's award is in the category Women.

View the trading card (PDF)

Messages to: Gerrie Naughton rsm c/- Rose Weidenbenner rsm

'Over her 50 years in religious life, Sister Mary Ann Walsh's job titles have varied—teacher, reporter for a diocesan newspaper, Vatican correspondent and media editor at Catholic News Service, and spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops—but through it all the Sister of Mercy has been, down to her very core, a writer.

From scribbling away after bedtime as a child—light from a gooseneck lamp under the sheets betraying her to her parents—writing has been Sister Mary Ann's passion. As an eighth-grader, she had so many writing projects for the class that her teacher let her use a vacant nurse's office as her work space...'

Source: Catholic News Service

Messages to: Mary Ann Walsh rsm c/- Lauren Tyrrell Institute - Communications Office

Editor: Sr Mary Ann currently features on the Institute of the Americas website. Her profile is the second in a series of profiles of Sisters in the Institute living with serious illness. That story can be read here

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Mercy Matters

Songs inspired by the writings of women mystics: Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Clare of Assisi, Gertrude the great, Hildegard of Bingen.

Composed by Briege O'Hare osc; sung by Marie Cox rsm (The Congregation)

'Pour out Compassion and Mercy', the suggested song in Prayer Service One on this month's theme 'Called to Compassion', is from this album.

The CD is available from the MIC shop and all good Catholic bookshops. It can also be purchased from iTunes, as can each of Briege O'Hare's albums, all of which are sung by Marie Cox.

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'...Make this world better, not worse – for therein lies the secret of fulfillment, abundance, freedom, joy and purpose.
But how? We offer you six brief pieces of wisdom:
First: Nurture loving relationships...
Second: Be grateful...
Third: Be a beneficial presence as a global citizen...
Fourth: Live with joyful intention...
Fifth: Value the virtues of courage, tenacity and integrity...
Sixth: Be merciful...'

Extracted from an edited version of a longer Commencement Address given by Kerry A. Robinson to graduates of the class of 2012 from Misericordia University (USA) on May 19, 2012.

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No event of particular significance is recorded in the "Mercy Through the Years Calendar" as having taken place on 25 February. We know, however, that the Works of Mercy continued to be carried out and so we remember on this day Catherine and all our Sisters, Associates and Co-workers who have given their lives in service to others.

We invite contributions for this date to be be added to the mercyworld.org online calendar.

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

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A beautiful presentation in rainbow order of all kinds of unusual facts about colour.  Click the arrow to scroll through and learn why US school buses are yellow, Facebook is blue and the true colour of San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge is a special shade of 'international orange'.

Source: NPR

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'Catherine's heart was drawn with special compassion to the marginalised members of society.'

-M Carmel Bourke

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Together with our partners in ministry, we work to realise the vision of Ellen Whitty and Catherine McAuley.

We are compelled by God's spirit and our tradition to work, both individually and corporately, to bring about a more just and compassionate world.

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Further Resources

Worth Playing:

'It Is Mercy' by Matthew Baute from his 2008 CD "River of Grace" Play it here (04:52).

Available on Google Play * iTunes *emusic

Worth Knowing:

Online Retreat

An online retreat entitled Source of Living Water has been made freely available in English and French on the website of the Congrégation de Notre-­-Dame. The retreat has been proposed for Lent but can be undertaken at any time. The texts used in the retreat are inspired by the book, Mary and the Maternal Face of God. Reimagining Ourselves as Church (Baico Publishing Inc., Ottawa) by Marie Azzarello, CND, one of the authors of the retreat materials . Access the retreat here
Read more about the book here


'Abounding in Kindness: Writing for the People of God' by Elizabeth A Johnson due 10 March, 2015. A first collection of Sr Elizabeth's essays and lectures Available from Amazon * Kindle * Paperback editions

Worth Remembering:

A reminder that orders for LCWR's new book, 'I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness', a reflective resource for our spiritual journey, must be received by LCWR with payment by this Friday, 27, 2015. Place your order online here

Worth Reading:

Opposing Human Trafficking

'Hedging Risk by Combatting Human Trafficking: Insights from the Private Sector'. This report, released on 18 February from the World Economic Forum, has been prepared by the Network of Global Agenda Councils task force on human trafficking. It looks at how sectors such as finance and technology are using big data to find patterns in human trafficking. Read the report here (24pps; PDF)

The International Anglican Family Network (IAFN) and the International Anglican Women's Network (IAWN) have produced a joint newsletter for January 2015 on the subject of human trafficking which  looks at how churches can partner each other and with other agencies to prevent human trafficking; how they are supporting survivors in very different contexts, and how they are raising awareness in their communities. Read the newsletter here (12 pps; PDF)

'On Social Justice Day [20 February], UN spotlights human trafficking, modern slavery'.

“New instruments such as the ILO (International Labour Organization) Protocol and Recommendation on forced labour and human trafficking are helping to strengthen global efforts to punish perpetrators and end impunity,” said Ban Ki-moon in a message marking the Day. “We must continue to do more. We simply cannot achieve development for all if we leave behind those who are socially and economically exploited.” Read the article here.

Cosmology & Eco-justice

'What is the sky worth?

This sounds like a philosophical question, but it might become a more concrete one. A report released last week by the National Research Council called for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. Such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky — and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves...' Read the article ''What if We Lost the Sky?' here

'Some eight million metric tons of plastic waste makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, and the amount of the debris is likely to increase greatly over the next decade unless nations take strong measures to dispose of their trash responsibly, new research suggests...' Read 'Study Finds Rising Levels of Plastics in Oceans' here

Worth Watching:

Opposing Human Trafficking

'On the Record' Investigates: Stolen Lives.' On 18 February, Fox News USA presented a 3-part program on human trafficking.
-'Inside the FBI's human trafficking war room'. In the first chapter Greta tours the FBI's unit devoted to combating human and sex trafficking (02:46) Watch it here.
-'Child sex and human trafficking on the rise'. Inside the rise of child sex and human trafficking rings and the FBI's battle to turn the tide (04:02) Watch it here
-'Modern day slavery in America': Human trafficking is a growing crisis, with 2.4 million victims around the world (07:01). Watch it here

The bottom line:

'Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight...' from My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer' The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, 19 February, 2015

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)