Final Vow Programme – Come home to Catherine (MIA)
Last week (19 - 25 May, 2013), eight Sisters came to Mercy International Association, Baggot Street to take part in the Final Vow Programme, ‘Come Home to Catherine’. The programme was run by MIA and facilitated by Anne Reid and Áine Barrins, rsm. They were assisted by Evelyn Horan, rsm who translated the programme for non-English speaking Sisters.
The Sisters, who came from Kenya, the Philippines, Peru and the US were delighted to be in Ireland to take part in the programme. It allowed them to develop their personal connection with Catherine McAuley and spend time in her house. Barbara McGahon, rsm, who is approaching the first anniversary of her final vows, explained why the programme was so important to her. “I found that travelling to the House of Mercy really helped to deepen my relationship with Catherine. I believe for us all to come and be where she started helped us to discover what she has modelled for us”
Roxanna Contreras, rsm from Peru agreed. “It’s very different when you come to the actual place where the Sisters of Mercy were founded, because being here you begin to understand a lot more about Catherine. You see her in her own place and how she lived in her own house”
All of the participants are at different stages of life and ultimately have different reasons for becoming Sisters of Mercy. Blanca Quintana, rsm from Peru, explains that initially she did not want to enter religious life. “I did not want to be a religious at first, but when I got to know the Sisters of Mercy it really touched me. I found that they were authentic, very happy in themselves and very personable with people. That is what I was looking for and I wanted to share my life and the experience of God with these women.”
For others the path to becoming a Sister of Mercy was a different experience. Rosalie Ruiz, rsm, from the Philippines, feels that becoming a Sister of Mercy was a path set out for her by God. “For me, my calling is a mystery. I believe that God put me here, in the Sisters of Mercy. At first I didn’t know what the Religious Sisters of Mercy were and what they were about. However, I recall I was drawn to the word ‘Mercy’ and I said to myself that this is where I belong and that’s why I’m here. I am so happy to be a Sister of Mercy.”
While their reasons to become Sisters of Mercy may be different, the charism of Mercy and the spirit of Catherine McAuley is evident in the work all of the Sisters are engaged in - teaching, nursing, social ministry and above all helping others.
During the week the Sisters spent time reflecting on their vocation, their future work and their lives as Sisters of Mercy. They visited the Mercy Convent at Coolock House, where Catherine lived with William and Catherine Callaghan. They also attended mass at Clarendon Street Church, where 13 Sisters of Mercy are buried. The Sisters also visited different places of significance in Catherine's life, including George’s Hill where she took her vows.
To spend time walking in Catherine's footsteps and experiencing the house that she built was a wonderful opportunity for these Sisters, who are beginning their Mercy journey. As Sr Marguerite explains, “when I made my vows a number of years ago this programme was not available. Therefore I see it as a privilege to take part in this retreat and to spend time in Catherine's House of Mercy.”
While they were in Catherine's house, the Sisters performed their country’s version of the Suscipe of Catherine McAuley, which you can listen to here.
Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA