July 18, 2019

Day Three: Keynotes, Workshops and Ceili Night

Thursday was another very busy day. Following Morning Prayer, pilgrims attended two of the three keynotes (they experienced one yesterday). Later that morning and in the afternoon they participated in three of the four workshop offerings  having been to one yesterday).

While a very full programme, presentations and workshops employed a variety of strategies including listening, discussion, videos, a quiz, meditation, drama and  mindfulness exercises to enable the participants to fully engage with the issues and topics being addressed.


Ann Mara (on Wednesday) and JP O'Sullivan (on Thursday) explored the issue of human trafficking and presented on the work of MECPATHS to address trafficking. Key indicators of human trafficking and ways to address human trafficking were also covered.

MECPATHS (Mercy Efforts for Child Protection Against Trafficking with the Hospitality Sector) works closely with industry leaders within the hospitality sector, designing and delivering education programmes for their staff and management to heighten their awareness of child trafficking in Ireland.

Download an overview of the work of MECPATHS

Marian Gardner (MIA-MGA Intern) shared her personal journey and how her life experiences have shaped her passion for human rights advocacy. Her talk was designed for the students to think critically about themselves and the injustices in our world and to examine the tools necessary to be effective Mercy leaders and changemakers. She provided some examples of how Sisters of Mercy and co-workers around the world are working to dismantle oppressive systems at grassroots and policy levels and stressed the importance of critical thinking, deep listening, and understanding. 

Janine Nagle explored the Works of Mercy with the student pilgrims outside in the Contemplative Garden. Selecting from the black and white sketches created by Clare Agnew, small groups interpreted the stories then and now.

Students had two questions to consider in preparing their performance pieces:
What personal values do you think the Sisters had in the 1830s ? (when the sketches were drawn). Are your values similar or different?

The Works of Mercy and contemporary accounts of the ministries depicted in the sketches can be viewed on our Mercyworld.org website here

More information about the times in which the drawings were created and their artist, Clare Agnew, can be found here

Images from the Keynote Presentations:


Terry Saetta rsm is on the New Membership Team of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. She commenced her Workshops by explaining that the word 'Discernment' comes from the Spanish 'Cernir' meaning 'To sift'. We all sift through the varied choices in life using experiences which have touched us and impacted on us. 

Sr Terry was joined at each of her Discernment workshops by two other Sisters of Mercy, each of whom shared her personal journey to become a Sister of Mercy. Pilgrims then had the opportunity to ask questions, offer reflections, provide comments. 

Anna Nicholls rsm conducted guided meditation and prayer in the Mercy tradition in the contemplative space in the Sacred Garden. She talked about the importance of prayer in Catherine's life as a young person, the growth of her prayer life while living with the Callaghans, the importance of scripture to Catherine and what Catherine's letters and retreat instructions reveal about her prayer life. The guided meditation led students into an encounter with Catherine.

Mary Conway rsm taught skills in mindfulness in her workshops. 'Mindfulness', she explained, 'is a way of developing the human capacity for paying attention to life experience with kindness and curiosity'. Sr Mary prepared additional exercises and a list of resources for follow-up. These have been posted on the Mercyworld.org website here.

Colleen Swain led a workshop on “Environmental Justice as a Work of Mercy”. Students reflected on Pope Francis’ words in Laudato si' para 139.  Through the use of videos and an activity using “The Earth Cube”, students were challenged to unpack what it means to be both Mercy Leaders and stewards of creation  They also considered Mercy responses to issues related to the degradation of the Earth and the actions they can take.


Images from the Workshops:

School Groups

Dinner was had in the grounds of Haddington Road Church with the main course (tacos) served from a food truck and the ice-cream desert served from an ice-cream van. The menu proved to be a popular choice with all ages.

Day 3 concluded with a céilí - an evening of traditional Irish dancing held in the Church hall. The name céilí comes from the word 'le cheile' meaning 'coming together'. Pilgrims were introduced to Irish music, dance and culture in a really fun and interactive way as can be seen in the video below.

A Report on the activities of tomorrow,  the last day of the pilgrimage, will be posted on the Mercyworld.org website and appear in Mercy eNews on 24 July 2019

Messages to: Pilgrimage Communications Team

Report on Day Four
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