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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 611  |  11 March 2015
Featured Story

Editor: Sisters of Mercy and our Partners-in-ministry working on opposing Human Trafficking are asking that we choose Fair Trade chocolate this Easter and all year round.

It is estimated that of the 4 million tons of cocoa beans produced annually, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) produce 70% of the world’s cocoa supply. Research by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) shows that many cocoa farming families survive on real incomes of about 40 cents per dependent per day. Such low earnings make it difficult for farmers to pay hired labourers at the legally required minimum wage. Consequently, child labour, including child trafficking, is common. The ILRF estimates that between 500,000 and 1.5 million children are engaged in child labour. (The Fairness Gap 64 pps; PDF)

Farmers operating with Fairtrade Certification, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ Certified are engaging in good labour practices. When you choose your chocolate this Easter (and from now on) please support them.

Messages to: MIA Working Group on Human Trafficking c/- Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director MGA

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Vision in Action

'Belief in God incarnate is belief in the wildness of divine love to seize us from within and turn us upside down and move us in a new direction.' Ilia Delio OSF– The Emergent Christ

Sr Mary writes: 'With Catherine Mc Auley and Pope Francis we open our hearts to embrace this gift of our merciful God - in our own humanity and in our world’s cry. ‘Bent and changed, formed and reformed’, Catherine became a vessel of mercy through which God drew near to broken hearts, healed wounded spirits, and awakened hearts to hear and respond to the cries of the poor.'

This six day retreat facilitated by Sr Mary commences Sunday, 26 July and concludes on Saturday, 1 August. Retreatants can live-in or be non-residential.

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

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Special eNews Series

'Congratulations on the topics each month in Mercy eNews. Hospitality and Compassion etc. A wonderful gift to every Mercy Sister world-wide sharing in the Mercy expertise in reflection and prayer. Many are meeting in small and large groups. Such profound nourishment each month. Thank you.'

-Nance Cale rsm (ISMAPNG)

Forthcoming: Next week (Issue 612, 18 March 2015) we are publishing the third of our Year of Consecrated Life (YCL) themes. Elaine Wainwright rsm (ISMAPNG) will engage us in reflective sharing on the topic: 'Extravagant Mercy—A New Story in an Ecological Key.' Once again, you are warmly invited to share your reflections online.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) – the annual gathering of States to address critical issues related to gender equality and women’s rights — is focusing on “Implementing the Beijing Platform for Action”.

Taking place at United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 9-20 March 2015, Member States, UN entities and accredited NGOs from around the world will take stock of progress and remaining challenges for implementing this landmark agreement for gender equality and women's rights.

Aine O'Connor, MGA Co-ordinator at the UN and Denise Boyle fmdm, Assistant Director MGA are attending CSW 59 on behalf of MIA.

CSW 59 news is being posted on the UN Women site (linked to this item) and live and archived coverage of scheduled events is available on the UN Web TV site from the home page, under the heading 'Recent on Demand Videos'. .

Messages to:
Aine O'Connor rsm - MGA Co-ordinator at the UN
Denise Boyle fmdm - Assistant Director MGA

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MIA Prayer Intention for the Coming Week:

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of Syria's civil war.

'At the beginning of the conflict...1 million people needed humanitarian assistance inside the country. Today, that figure stands at 12.2 million. 3.8 million people have fled to neighbouring countries. We must not allow the world to forget Syria and the atrocities being committed against its people.'

-Assistant Sec-Gen for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang in briefing to Security Council, 28 January 2015

Last Sunday, 8 March, Bishop Antoine Audo sj, Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo and President of Caritas Syria, wrote in the British paper, The Telegraph, 'I am sustained by the daily acts of solidarity from my brothers and sisters around the world ... And as I walk through the dust and the rubble, I am not afraid.

St Paul’s virtues of faith, hope and love have rarely been in greater need, or under greater pressure, as we face the fourth year of this war. But I have faith in God’s protection, hope for our future, and my love of this country and all its peoples will outlast this war. I must believe that, and I pray that you...will stand with us as long as our struggles endure.'

Let us join our prayers for peace with those of Bishop Audo and the Syrian people.

Post your own Prayer or Reflection in our online Chapel

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Building the Global Mercy Community Online

Did a particular news item in Mercy E-news teach you something new? Engage you deeply?  Encourage you? Surprise you? Move you? Remind you of an experience you'd had? Connect in a particular way with your ministry? Set you on a path of discovery?

The 'Messages to [name and email]' is provided at the end of each news item so that readers can communicate directly with writers, make a connection and engage in email conversation.

Next time a news item particularly interests you, consider contacting the writer to let her or him know that.

Messages to: the Editor

God of love and mercy, touch with your healing power and restore to full health: Zeke Ortiz, Sister Fintan, David Feely, Jim Gase, Peter O'Reilly 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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Connect Call: Working Group on Cosmology and the Environment

Mercy Sisters and Partners-in-ministry from Newfoundland and different parts of the United States and Ireland came together online using Adobe Connect meeting technology on 25 February. Anne Walsh facilitated the technical aspects of the meeting.

Each person prior to the meeting – even those not able to participate - had submitted a short report on their plan of action for 2015.  These were most informative, evoking a good exchange of ideas. Those participating in the call affirmed the richness and effectiveness of Mercy’s work around the globe. A number of these reports can be accessed online here in the 'Project Updates' section

Aine O’Connor (MGA Coordinator at the UN) gave an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process, from the notes she sent out before the meeting. She invited everyone to look for updates on the Mercy World website. Aine also alerted the group to expect requests for advocacy action around mid-March, probably around the right to water and sanitation. Other issues discussed included ‘Global Frackdown Day’; fossil fuel divestment; Global Climate Change Movement and the Lenten Fast – specific countries are taking a day each; plus fracking and human rights.

Messages to: DeniseBoyle fmdm - Assistant Director Mercy Global Action

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 Members News

Editor: In the first of a series of reflections to be published on The Congregation's website over the coming months, Jo O'Donovan rsm offers us an introduction to Walter Kasper's 'Mercy', the book Pope Francis said has done him 'so much good'. Writes Sr Jo: 'The reflections will be a sprint through Kasper. A German theologian of high stature, he writes comprehensively, bringing all theology under the umbrella of divine mercy. He is not an easy read. But like another German theologian, Emeritus Benedict XVI, he is worth the effort because he rewards us with luminous insights that give such life.'

Sr Jo's reflections will help break open the text of 'Mercy' for readers of eNews and assist them in their reflections on Cardinal Kasper's insights and wisdom. Each month's reflection will be available on the webpage as a PDF for download.

Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life (Paulist Press, 2014) by Walter Kasper is available in both hardback and ebook formats.

Pope Francis' Revolution of Tenderness and Love: Theological & Pastoral Perspectives, (Paulist Press, 2015) Cardinal Kasper's latest work, has just been released. Cardinal Kasper will also give a public talk on the topic of the book in English on 19 March in Rome.

Messages to: Jo O'Donovan rsm

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Celebrating International Women's Day (North Sydney Congregation)

On Friday, 6 March, Sisters Jennie Ryan, Carmel McDonough, Margaret Farrell and I, together with staff and parent representatives from Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College North Sydney, attended the UN Women’s Breakfast. In this year of our Sesquicentenary, would you believe we were seated at table 150! 

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day for celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women.  It is a day to acknowledge the struggles of women, to learn how to play a part in creating a brighter future for women and girls and to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development.  It provides an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

Messages to: Loreto Conroy rsm - Congregational Leader

Editor: At Monte's International Women’s Day Breakfast, Monte Year 10 student Kate McNamara spoke courageously about asylum seekers and refugees and encouraged all Monte students and community to join her in petitioning the Federal Government to be a voice for children in immigration detention. Read more here


Mercy Conversations with Sr Camille (Americas)

Editor: Every two weeks Camille D’Arienzo rsm interviews members of the Catholic Church about how their faith has affected them. These interviews are published in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

In the past month Sr Camille has interviewed two members of the Mercy family: Mary Schmuck rsm, Parish social ministry coordinator for the Nazareth Office of Catholic Charities of Louisville, Kentucky (published 3 February) and Louise Simon, Nurse, local coordinator for Mercy Associates in New York (published 3 March). Those interviews can be read below:

Mercy sister: We can make things better with the spirit of Catholic social teaching: Mary Schmuk rsm

Nurse and Mercy Associate strives to be the change she wants to see in the world: Louise Simon

Messages to: Camille D"Arienzo rsm


Image: Camille D'Arienzo rsm. NCR

'"The Religious Sisters of Mercy have been teaching, nursing and providing religious guidance for the people of Vicksburg, Warren County and Central Mississippi for 155 years.

A reception was held at St. Michael Sunday to honor the Sisters of Mercy, and Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. declared the day as Sisters of Mercy Day.

In the official proclamation he resolved the honor be given “for the dedicated, loving and caring women of faith who have committed their lives to God, and have become beacons of light who serve, advocate and pray for those suffering throughout the world..."'

Source: The Vicksburg Post

Messages to Sisters of Mercy Vicksburg c/- Lauren Tyrrell - Institute Communications Office

Image: The VIcksburg Post

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Mercy Matters

The first solution may not fix the problem for everyone in which case, try the other possible solutions

Source: Online tech tips

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1837: Death of M Rose Lube at Baggot St

1902: Death of M Catherine Hughes, Auckland, last member of the foundation group

Editor: Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand website is this week's featured site

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

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'Take what He will from us, He still leaves His holy peace.'

Catherine McAuley

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Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand is a Catholic religious congregation of vowed women.

Over 200 sisters seek to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ by engaging in the works of Mercy, according to the charism of Catherine McAuley. Together with our companions in mission, our vision is for a world where God’s generous love and mercy are experienced by all.

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'If we were not broken, our prayer would not be "Have Mercy on us.'

- Gloria Thornburg
'Living Mercy', presentation at MSEA Conference, Rhode Island, 2014

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To coincide with World Water Day, 22 March, 2015, Mercy Reaches Mercy has launched this timely booklet that looks at the situation of water worldwide.

Cost US $2 plus postage
UK £1 plus postage
EU €1.50 plus postage
Discount for multiple copies

Messages to: Deirdre Mullan rsm - Coordinator  Mercy Reaches Mercy, UNICEF Partnership with Religious Congregations

Download the flyer here (PDF)

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Further Resources

Worth Playing:

Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant - performing Thy Word - [Live] based on the words of the Psalmist: 'Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path' (Ps 119:105). Watch/listen here (04:49). The lyrics are available for download here

Worth Watching:

Cosmology & Ecojustice

In November 2014 Yale University hosted a 3-day conference “Living Cosmology: Christian Responses to Journey of the Universe", held to celebrate the centenary of Thomas Berry's birth. Among the many speakers were: Janet Ruffing rsm (Americas), Ilia Delio OSF, Miriam McGillis, Rosemary Radford Reuther, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.
12 Videos from that conference are now publicly available online here. A collection of the conference papers will be published by Orbis Books. View the Table of Contents

Opposing Human Trafficking

“We can change all the laws we want—but until we change the attitudes and respect for human beings, all this work is for nothing,” said Cindy McCain, head of the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council, at a panel discussion on 3 March at The Heritage Foundation. Watch Combating Human Trafficking: Evaluating the Roles of Government and Civil Society (1:47:26). Read the backgrounder: Combating Human Trafficking in Asia Requires U.S. Leadership

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered last week’s Republican address on bipartisan legislation to curb domestic human trafficking.  The legislation passed in the committee by a unanimous vote. The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin consideration of human trafficking legislation this week. Watch/listen/read his address here (04:47)

Human Trafficking | Anne Victory | TEDxYoungstown

A discussion on slavery and the many types of slavery going on today. An introduction to the topic.
Anne Victory, HM, currently serves as Education Coordinator for the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking. Recorded 5 February 2015. Watch it here (14:20)

Worth Reading:

The Selma effect: Catholic nuns and social justice 50 years on

In this article, Carol Coburn, professor of religious studies and women's and gender studies at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri, argues that 'Individuals, their religious communities, and the creation of many intercommunity networks and organizations helped reshape and redefine the response to social justice in late 20th-century America' and that 'The sisters’ legacy or gift is embedded deeply into the fabric of our society; and ultimately, it may prove to be the most profound and lasting legacy of the U.S. Catholic church in the 20th century.' Members of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas appear in the article - visual illustrations of Coburn's argument . Read the article here

Cosmology & Ecojustice

'The Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the U.N. in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, says no one is exempt from the impact of climate change and we all have a moral duty to address this global concern. Archbishop Tomasi’s comments came during an address to the U.N. [6 March 2015] on the issue of human rights and climate change.' Read the full text of Archbishop Tomasi's address here

Opposing Human Trafficking

The March 2015 Stop Trafficking! newsletter, co-sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is now online. This issue highlights the growing tolerance for sexual violence in media and advertising and the efforts to reveal its connection to sex trafficking of women and children. Download the newsletter here (6pps; PDF)

Worth Attending:

Cosmology & Ecojustice

If in Connecticut in April

Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale Divinity School with the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale is hosting a Panel on the Papal Encyclical on 8 April. Margaret Farley rsm (Americas), Yale Divinity School, Emeritus is a member of the panel. Details can be found here

If in Brisbane in April

Truth & Charity Series Two: Acting Justly: Living the Mercy of Jesus features Veronica Lawson rsm (ISMAPNG) on 'Mercy in the Gospel' on 28 April. Download the flyer here

Year of Consecrated Life

If in Dayton, Ohio before 31 March

An exhibition entitled 'Charism, Character and Calling', is on display through 31 March in the Roesch Library at the University of Dayton. It tells the stories of vowed religious through treasures from three special library collections that preserve the history of the U.S. Catholic Church, tell the story of the University's Marianist heritage, and draw scholars from around the world to study Mary, the mother of Jesus. Further details can be found here

Worth Considering:

The 2015 Los Angeles Religious Education Conference is on from 12 March (Youth Day) & 13-15 March. On 14 March sessions by Ronald Rolheiser 'Seeing What Lies Most Deeply Within Us: Developing Mystical Eyes' and James Mallon 'Transforming Leadership'  are being livestreamed and will be archived on YouTube. Details here

Worth Knowing:

The second annual National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) is underway in the United States (8–14 March, 2015). The week is held in conjunction with National Women's History Month.

Through events and activities happening across the country, NCSW is intended to connect young women with women religious, who number nearly 50,000 in the United States, by highlighting their vital contributions and demonstrating that their lifestyle is relevant today. Currently, approximately 1,000 American women are in formation and nearly 100 will make their final vows in 2015.

The bottom line:

'The great challenge today is to convert the sacred bread into real bread, the liturgical peace into political peace, the worship of the Creator into reverence for the Creation, the Christian praying community into an authentic human fellowship.'

-Raimundo Panniker, philosopher, theologian, mystic, priest and poet.

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)