December 12, 2002

Failte! Ireland - Auckland - Ireland

Foundation Day, December 12 2002, was a special occasion for the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, Ireland, when they celebrated the Transfer Profession Ceremony of 25 Sisters of Mercy who have returned home from Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, to Ireland.

The Ceremony was held at St Leo's Convent, Carlow. This location was very symbolic for the Sisters because it was from here that Cecilia Maher and her companions set off in 1849 for Tamaki Makaurau Auckland and established the first Convent of Mercy in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1850.

In welcoming them to Ireland, Bishop Jim Moriarty, celebrant, and Sister Breege O'Neill, Congregational Leader, spoke of the measured and reflective way in which the whole process has taken place over a long period of time. Breege spoke of the two journeys which have shaped the lives of the 25 mercy women: the first journey from Ireland and home at an early age; and the second journey, the return, when new understandings of mission and of religious life were a call to leave New Zealand for a changed homeland, new ministries and new communities. 'We are here today to celebrate the Providence of God which has guided your journey and the courage and integrity with which you have made the journey of integration to this Congregation. You who have done the sowing and nurturing in another culture are now bringing the rich harvest of that experience into our Congregation.'

To symbolise the event each sister was given a ceramic goblet into which was poured water from a large pottery jug, ritualising the new sharing in the Irish Congregation.

Links from Auckland formed part of the occasion with the presence of Sisters Alice Sinnott, Mary Foy and Judith Leydon from Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland. A nice touch at the end of the day was the serving of strawberries and cream for dessert, the traditional dessert served on Foundation Day in Auckland.

EthelBignell@eircom.net

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