'Hope in a Time of Pandemic' Issue Spotlight #5: The Pandemic of Kindness
As we celebrate Mercy Day 2020, we appreciate the love and kindness that has been so evident throughout the Mercy World and beyond during this time of pandemic. Amidst the grief and loss, the illnesses and anxieties, the lockdowns and uncertainties, the Mercy World has remained steadfast in its commitment to strengthening relationships and to standing in solidarity with Earth and people, especially those most marginalised.
The Inspiration of Catherine McAuley
MGA’s recent publication, ‘Hope in a Time of Pandemic,’ has illustrated that amidst pain and suffering, there is human capacity for transformation, resilience, kindness and creativity. Through the inspiration of our foundress Catherine McAuley, the Mercy World has responded to this global crisis with compassion, hope and resilience. This has been part of the Mercy story since Catherine first responded to the struggles in her own life. Catherine experienced the death of her parents and siblings at a young age and despite the hardships, lovingly cared for her sister’s children. She was faithful regardless of the efforts to convert her from Catholicism and she opened the House of Mercy despite opposition. We recall the works of Mercy undertaken by Catherine and her companions during the Cholera Epidemic and are motivated by Catherine’s spirit of Mercy. In ‘Hope in a Time of Pandemic’, a sister from Newfoundland reflects:
‘Catherine McAuley’s spirit of mercy and compassion and her great courage were sources of my deep desire to continue my hospital ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic…Sometimes , besides the nurses and doctors, I am the only face the patients see. ‘
Likewise, mindful of the vulnerability of the aged, a Sister in Aotearea, New Zealand states:
I have a strong belief that the ministry in aged care is as relevant today as it was in Catherine’s day. It is a ministry in which we as Mercy women can make a difference to other lives. It is a call to make a space in our hearts for another. ‘
Making space in our hearts for others, has been visible through the many works of Mercy around the world. In caring for the sick and aged, offering support to those rendered homeless, accompanying migrants, sewing masks for essential workers, praying with the dying, visiting the sick, raising funds for those in need of support and offering consolation to those grieving and experiencing isolation and loneliness.
Renewing and Strengthening Relationships
At the heart of the Mercy World has been a renewing and strengthening of relationships. Amidst the severe health crisis and huge disruption to our lives, the value of connecting and caring for others has been paramount. Even though we are forced to socially distance, the Mercy World has embraced technology in a new way, engaging in phone calls, zoom meetings and webinars across the world.
In ‘Hope in a Time of Pandemic’ a Mercy Sister from the United Kingdom states:
‘The future seems so much more uncertain and, as an aging community, we sometimes feel there is very little we can physically contribute, but technology has given us a window that is enabling us to communicate, share with and accompany others in a way that we have never thought of before’
Gratitude for Essential Workers
One way in which the Mercy World has accompanied others is through showing gratitude to essential workers. People around the Mercy World have given tribute to essential workers in many ways, including sending flowers, forming a guard of honour and applauding key workers in praise of their service. Images of Mercy communities thanking essential workers are symbolic of the value placed on indispensable work.
Coupled with kindness has been a strong commitment to prayer and contemplation. A Mercy Sister from Guyana states:
‘A global pandemic can only be countered by a response that is grounded in global contemplation. Among the fruits of our contemplation are wisdom, energy, new directions, new language, courage and new hope.’
In this time of pandemic what is the Mercy World being called to?
Through prayer and contemplation the Mercy World makes a stand amidst and in response to this global pandemic. The following stance is articulated in ‘Hope In a Time of Pandemic’.
- We stand for ensuring that no one is left behind: ‘We are all in this together’.
- We stand for human and Earth rights, and for systems which uphold the dignity and protection of our common home.
- We stand for an inclusive response to the impacts of the pandemic that builds a sustainable future benefitting all.
- We stand with all who face discrimination and violence.
- We stand for the rights of women and girls, and for gender responsive approaches to a transformative future.
- We stand for the well-being of families in all their forms.
- We stand for safeguarding the dignity of all those who are dying and have died during the pandemic.
- We stand with all those grieving the loss of loved ones.
- We stand with those who have lost their livelihoods and all who feel vulnerable during these uncertain times.
- We stand for the integrity and unity of all earth systems and the reduction of fossil fuel consumption in light of the lessons learned during lockdown.
- We stand for human rights and the values of the Common Good which enable all individuals to have the food, water, shelter, clothing and health care required to live with dignity.
- We stand for the development of collaborative relationships between central government, local governments and civil society that secures the social protection needs of ALL people within jurisdictions.
- We stand for just and merciful leadership at all levels.
To conclude, as we celebrate Mercy Day, let’s take up the call from a Mercy Sister from Ireland to enable all to experience Mercy in our world:
‘The need for precious time to listen, to heal, to comfort will be part of our new way of being Mercy. Never before has this planet and the peoples who live on it, been more in need of an experience of Mercy.
- MGA COVID-19 Task Force: Hope in a Time of Pandemic - Responding to COVID-19 through a Mercy Lens
- Spence, Shawna-kay. 2020. “The Storm Won’t Last Forever - The Sun Will Shine Again.” June 2020.
- Jimenez, Nieves. 2020. “All These People Live Mercy.” ¡Viva! Mercy, July/August 2020
- World Council of Churches. 2020. “Calling for an Economy of Life in a Time of Pandemic”
Spread the word across your own social media platforms by sharing ‘Hope in a Time of Pandemic’ and MIA Global Action’s infographic on COVID-19 and the Pandemic of Kindness on social media. Please engage with us on Twitter @MIAGlobalAction and @MercyWorldwide.
Messages to: Angela Reed rsm - Head of Mercy Global Action