August 21, 2006

Exciting linking of two Asia Pacific Mercy projects

Two Mercy projects have come together in the Asia Pacific Region of MIJN.

In 2005 a group of Mercy students participated in a pilot initiated by Meredith Evans rsm (Adelaide Congregation Leader) and facilitated by Susan Holoubek which consisted of three weekend meetings throughout the year aimed at developing justice leadership through Mercy. This group of senior school students became known as the Young Mercy Justice Tree (YMJT) and they have been a network of social justice action and reflection ever since*. Most members of this original group are now school leavers and university students so their schools have elected new students to take their place as to allow for more young people to take part in formation as Mercy leaders of action at their schools..

Some of the founding 2005 group recently met up for a reunion conference weekend for which they had planned and organised their own funding, with the support of Meredith Evans and the Adelaide Mercies who hosted the event. As well as welcoming Meredith to part of the weekend, Susan Holoubek was invited to return as facilitator. Beyond the reunion experience, the Old Scholars group were able to also take time to evaluate the changing nature of their involvement in the YMJT and discuss plans for continued social justice actions outside of their Mercy school communities.

Earlier that same week, Mercy E-News published Sr. Lourdes Amascual’s appeal for assistance with the Philippine Mercies’ Tacloban City hospital plans. Helen Owens rsm (MIJN Focal Point Person, Asia Pacific Region) made contact with Sr. Lourdes broaching the possibility for the YMJT Old Scholars to link with her project. Receiving a positive reply from Sr. Lourdes during the conference, Helen spoke to the YMJT group of MIJN activities in the region and especially mentioned this possibility of networking with the Philippines.

The group made e-mail contact with Sr. Lourdes and asked if there was any way they could partner the Mercies in building this hospital for the people living in great poverty in Tacloban and noted that they would like to help by raising some money for the project and helping to acquire some equipment for the hospital. They also flagged the possibility of a formative experience whereby they might visit the Mercy Projects in the Philippines.

Sr Francis Anover has responded to the group and the following is a section of her letter to them:

Sr. Lourdes told me she replied to you already about the hospital which was posted at the website. Truly it is a need in our ministry, and in addition my assignment as a mercy sister is on: Community Extension Services (CES), meaning to put flesh on the mercy charism/spirit of reaching out to the poor marginalized sectors of our society. Here is the list of what the CES is doing:

  • women empowerment - through provision of livelihood skills training e.g. sewing - to nearby urban poor women
  • human rights/justice & peace - advocacy/education /training as well as providing support to victims
  • ecological/environmental protection-through the Diit farm where organic farming is promoted, and that the nearby farmers had been organized and empowered; and addition to it is the new program with the survivors in St. Bernard Southern Leyte due to the mudslide tragedy.

Communication between the YMJT Old Scholars and the Philippine Sisters is underway and very productive. Srs. Francis and Lourdes have agreed for the group to come over and ‘see’ and assist in the work the Mercies have embarked upon. These exceptional, flourishing projects have left the group very excited about the possibility of visiting the Philippines in 2008!

Fundraising projects for the hospital (and later, the Philippines trip) will be co-ordinated by the YMJT Old Scholars locally in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Mildura. The YMJT Old Scholars are at the initial stages of planning their involvement in the project but acknowledge the importance of networking within the Mercy community for support in their endeavours. The group is therefore very keen to broaden their contact with the wider Mercy community so should you wish to get involved or just find out more, please do not hesitate to make contact.

This is an exciting development of the future branches of Mercy and in particular that of youth as stronger links between the Mercies and former students of Mercy schools are borne. It is particularly appropriate that this next generation of ‘Mercy’ is taking an active role in the Mercy community which itself is increasingly focused on international justice action.

*The full story of the YMJT network has appeared previously in E-News and is available from the Australian Institute’s website

Messages to Helen Owens rsm

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