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Mercy e-News
Edition No. 653  |  20 December 2015
Featured Story
Our Prayer This Christmas

'We come to adore you, Christ our Savior, because, through God, you have chosen to be one of us. We sing our gratitude for the example of your life which gives new meaning to our human experience. We are comforted by your companionship and your promise to be with us always.

As we celebrate this day of your birth, may wonder take hold of us again, opening our eyes to the marvels of your creation, renewing our desire to imitate the gentleness and peace with which you moved among us.

We ask this in your name, Jesus, in whose life we rejoice today. Amen.'

Source: Morning Prayer for Christmas Day from 'Morning & Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy'.

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Image: from Clare Augustine Moore’s illuminated version of the Rule and Constitutions of the Religious Sisters of Mercy.  It comes from Chapter V ‘Of the Vow of Poverty’. Find out more about this Mercy 'Artist of Much Merit' here (8pps; PDF). See more of her celebrated work online here

Vision in Action
Christmas Greeting: MIA President

2015 has been an exciting and interesting year for Mercy International Association.  This Christmas marks the commencement of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which we all hope will bring renewed energy and commitment to God’s Mission of Mercy.  As we celebrate the feast of God coming among us as a small and helpless child, may we give thanks for those who have taught us Compassion and Mercy. 

I wish you every blessing of the Christmas Feast and hope that the Year of Mercy will be a wonderful opportunity for you to be inspired anew by the presence of and need for God’s Mercy in our lives. 

Messages to: Berneice Loch rsm - President MIA

Christmas Greeting: MIA Board

This holiday season finds us so mindful of how we make our home in a world community where violence, terrorism and hatred starkly greet us each day.  The gospel of joy, embodied by our brother Pope Francis and held out to each of us right now to make our very own during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, is our gift for this Christmas time.  We pray that as women and men of Mercy that we will, personally and collectively, embrace this gift.

With blessings of deep peace and joy to each of you who name yourself Mercy!

Ron Ashworth, Peter Burnett, Jim Peppiatt Combes, Maura Hyland, and Sisters Margaret Casey, Colette Cronin, Denise Fox, Pat McDermott, Scholasticah Nganda and Mary Reynolds
MIA Board of Directors

Messages to: Pat McDermott rsm - Chair, MIA Board

Christmas Greeting: Executive Director MIA

This Christmas, let us in the spirit of the Jubilee year, open wide our doors to allow God’s Mercy to enter in and touch our lives. In turn may we be the channels through which God’s Mercy and Compassion flows to those whose lives we touch. As we enter into the mystery and wonder of this season and start the journey into the Year of Mercy we echo the words of Pope Francis: Let us allow God to surprise us.

May our journey give birth each day to the Love which will heal and transform our world.

May the promise and blessing of Christmas be yours!

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MA

Christmas Greetings from Mercy Congregations and Institutes, Mercy Communities, Sisters, Associates and partners-in-Mercy across the Mercy world are linked to this item.

Messages to: the Editor

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Editor: Reports from the Longford Mercy Cluster gathering; Mercy High Middletown Connecticut, USA; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Offices and Te Ngakau Waiora Mercy Spirituality Centre, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and images from Carlow University, Pennsylvania have been added to the site.

We do still welcome your reports, responses or reflections and your images from the opening of your local door of Mercy and recognise that some of us are opening our doors in conjunction with the new year and new school year (in the southern hemisphere). These reports will be added to the site as they are received for the enjoyment of us all. Messages to: the Editor

Renee Yann rsm shares a personal reflection on 'The Holy Door of Mercy', grounded in her past experience as a hospice chaplain. Read the reflection here

Messages to: Renee Yann rsm

Image: Cynthia Serjak rsm, Composer of 'What Mercy May Yet Be', the song used in the Opening of Local Mercy Doors ritual, displays the Mercy door sign at the December 8 Prayer Service at the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Office

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L’Appel de Paris (the Paris Pledge for Action), is a call to action in support of the Paris agreement which brings together a multitude of voices on an unprecedented scale within a single, collective statement:

'We welcome the adoption of a new, universal climate agreement at COP21 in Paris, which is a critical step on the path to solving climate change. We pledge our support to ensuring that the level of ambition set by the agreement is met or exceeded.'

The pledge has been signed by cities, regions, businesses, investors, civil society groups, trade unions and other signatories.
MIA is a signatory to this pledge.
Organisations can Join the Paris Pledge for Action here

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 Mareena 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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This is the final issue of Mercy E-news for 2015. All issues for this year have been archived online and are linked to this item.

Thank you very much to all who have contributed news items this year and so helped build the global Mercy community online. Thank you to all our readers for your ongoing interest, support, encouragement and feedback. A special thanks to Elsa Valdiviezo and the Staff of the Communications Office at the Institute of the Americas for the translations of the key materials for the Mercy International Reflection Process (MIRP).

The first Issue of Mercy E-News for 2016 will be published on Wednesday, 27 January.
Please send your contributions for the first issue of Mercy News to the Editor by Friday, 22 January.

Messages to: the Editor

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MIA Reflection Process
Books that Might Inspire as You Reflect (1)

In last week's eNews we published details of six films to look out for that you might enjoy as you undertake your personal reflection on the theme 'cry of the Earth, cry of the Poor' over December - January. Here are some recent books in a similarly inspiring vein that can be found online and, hopefully, in many public libraries and bookshops.

H is for Hawk , the award-winning memoir by Helen McDonald. Described in The Guardian as 'a lyrical depiction of the relationship between human and wild falcon' it does live up to this description. Available in multiple formats
Watch the interview with Helen McDonald (04:40)

Wendy Whitely and the Secret Garden. Remember Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel? This book is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself. Watch the video interview with Wendy (03:10)

Books that Might Inspire as You Reflect (2)

Landmarks by Robert McFarlane. 'This joyous meditation on land and language is a love letter to the British Isles'. Available in multiple formats. Read a review here
How do the landscapes we love shape the people we are? Watch 'Q&A: Robert Macfarlane on landscape and the human heart' here (14:26)

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks. Autobiography and memoir. 'A pitch-perfect and profound account of life as a sheep farmer in which the work dominates, from clipping to culling ' Read that review . Available in multiple formats

Watch/Listen to James Rebank reflect on his life (03:09) Read his reflections on the worldwide response to The Shepherd's Life here

Six Square Metres: Reflections from a Small Garden by Margaret Simons. Margaret is an award-winning journalist and biographer, and the head of a university research centre - but her deepest passion lies in her small inner suburban garden where, in only six square metres of land, she finds respite from the pressures of her public life. Listen here to the interview with Margaret as she discusses the joys of 'six square metres and a whole lot of pots' (13:00).

We look forward in the Year of Mercy to stories shared by our Mercy Gardeners in an occasional series 'In my Mercy Garden'. More about that in the New Year.

Messages to: Mercy International Reflection Process Guiding Team

Mercy Matters

Carlow University, rooted in its Catholic identity and embodying the heritage and values of the Sisters of Mercy, offers transformational educational opportunities for a diverse community of learners and empowers them to excel.   

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The Manger and the True Light of Mercy

A powerful video reflection for the Christmas season by Marykay Eichman rsm (Americas). Watch it here (04:55) The script of this video can be read here in English and Spanish

Messages to: Marykay Eichman rsm

'In a Most Gentle Gesture', painting by Sister Marykay

Christmas Eve 1965: Mission to Santiago, Chile from Rochester, New York
Christmas Day 1827: First Mass in House of Mercy, Baggot St, Fr L'Estrange
Christmas Day 1865: Death of M Vincent Mostyn, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Christmas Day 1866: Death of M Teresa Kelly, Foundress of Wexford

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

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'When we go through that door, it is good to remember that we must also open wide the doors of our heart,” said Francis, suggesting people can even stand before the holy door and ask: “Lord, help me to open the doors of my heart!”

“The holy year won’t be very effective if the doors of our heart do not let Christ enter, who pushes us to go towards others, to bring him and his love,” said the pope.

“Therefore, as the holy door remains open because it is the sign of the welcoming that God himself reserves for us, so also our doors -- those of the heart -- must always be open to not exclude anyone,” he said. “Not even those that bother me. No one!”

Source: NCR online

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Repeated: The Mercy GPS booklet

'Cultivate these six travel habits on the road of life, and you and the world will be well -served,' writes Deirdre Mullan rsm in 'The Mercy GPS' booklet:

* Pay attention * Move it forward * Become a global citizen * Live with gratitude * Move with courage and integrity * Be merciful.

Order from Deirdre Mullan rsm while stocks last

$1 each/ 1 Euro or UK. 0.50. Minimum Order: 10 booklets plus cost of postage

Download the flyer here (PDF)

'Mercy is the remedy for the ills of our time. It is through mercy that we make visible to the world the tenderness and closeness of God.

... When mercy becomes a basic component of public action, the world can be transformed from the sphere of selfish interests to that of human values.'

-His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, traditional Christmas press conference,16 December

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Further Resources

The Further Resources published in Mercy E-News throughout 2015, grouped together in categories for your convenience, can be found linked to this item. If you hadn't time throughout the year to read, watch or listen to any of these additional resources, you might like to look through some of them over the Christmas holidays and before Mercy E-news returns on 27 January 2016.

Note: Timebound news items, including UN observances, conferences, exhibitions, lectures, short courses and other highlighted events such as COP 21 contextual material, have not been included and monthly links to newsletters such as Stop Trafficking and LCWR's Update have been replaced by a link to the current/latest issue at the end of this resources list. Resources addressing the issue of human trafficking have been added to this list.

Worth Reading:

Jan Richardson's article 'This Luminous Darkness: Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas' is for those who, like herself are, as Jan puts it 'traveling through grief in this season'. Read it here

Worth Watching:

Our final song and video clip for the year is an anthem of shared hope and liberation. It is Rory Cooney's version of the Magnificat, called the Canticle of the Turning: 'My heart shall sing of the days you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.' The melody is the popular Irish tune 'Star of the County Down'.

The song with lyrics can be played here but do watch the Christmas 2015 video clip by Kairos Canada (02:09) and experience how that organisation has used the song in its capture of 'faithful action for justice' and 'acting towards hope'. May it offer us inspiration as we embark on our international reflection process (MIRP) in this Year of Mercy.
Purchase the song on * iTunes *Googleplay

The Bottom Line:

''Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.'
- Calvin Coolidge, Presidential message to the American people, December 25, 1927

We look forward to receiving your contributions for the Further Resources section in 2016

Messages to: the Editor

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year one and all

Christmas - Post a Greeting
Year of Mercy
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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)