March 12, 2014

Memories of MIC Years: Caitlin Conneely rsm (2005-2009)

When I recall my time at Catherine’s House in Baggot Street I reach for the ageless symbols of Source and Root, Soil and Wellspring, to give expression to the experience of these memorable years of a very special chapter in my life.

As I pause to reflect on those years, great moments of grace echo in my heart. Within these moments I saw the wonder of transformation and that is my deepest abiding memory of life in MIC. I saw it in eyes that lit up with joy as they searched and touched the inside of the house; I saw it in eyes that filled with peace having shed many tears and I saw transformation in eyes reopened to the mystery that is Mercy.

l-r: Caitlin Conneely rsm & Mary Gormly rsm (RIP)
l-r: Caitlin Conneely rsm & Anne Reid

During that time I had the privilege of being part of the 175th Anniversary of our Foundation. The celebration included special marking events in the period from the 8th September 2005 to 12th December 2006. These were opportunities for us to re-connect with names and places that are significant in Catherine’s story. As we stopped off’ at George’s Hill on September 8th we had the opportunity to celebrate with and give thanks to the Presentation Sisters, where Catherine, Mary Anne Doyle and Elizabeth Harley, spent their Novitiate. At Clarendon Street, on June 28th, we recalled the goodness of the Carmelite Fathers to Catherine and to Mercy.

The Leaders Dance the Candle and the Water
from the well back to the front of the House during the 175 celebrations
Walking from the Well to the front of the House
The Anniversary celebration had a special marking point when International Leadership Teams and many sisters gathered to celebrate the Anniversary Mass at Catherine’s parish church in St. Andrew’s Westland Row. On November 11th the journey took us to reflect on Catherine’s legacy to each one of us. The celebrations concluded on Foundation Day, December 12th when we ritualized the handing over to Baggot Street of precious letters and some of Catherine’s personal memorabilia. These were presented from Galway, Limerick and Sligo convents.

The House of Catherine attracts the pilgrim. For those who visit Baggot Street the attraction is real and the encounter with Catherine is intimate. I witnessed this magnetic energy in a compelling way during the pilgrimages to Baggot Street. The Pilgrimages, organised for senior managers and co-workers from Australia and the United States, energised me and gave me hope for the future. They came so that they might stand where Catherine stood, experience the place where her spirit moves and imbibe the vision of Mercy. Their commitment and love for Catherine was inspiring and I knew that the spirit of Catherine was safe in their hearts and hands. The journey that began with a small group of women had now become an international gathering. I thank God that I have lived to see this moment.


                                                                   Archives Committee
Standing l-r: Ethel Bignell rsm, Marianne Cosgrave, Marion McCarthy rsm, Caitlin Conneely rsm, Lee Guireri rsm,
Patricia Bell rsm
Seated: l-r: Cait O"Dwyer rsm, Mary Reynolds rsm

In MIC every programme and every pilgrimage was special to me. However I wish to give particular focus to the Multicultural Programmes to which the Sisters, who were most junior in our Institutes, were invited. These events signified for me the extraordinary unity of Catherine’s family, over time and place. The gatherings provided support and friendship to the sisters participating and enabled them to create vital links in the promotion of God’s Kingdom, in peace and justice.

It was during this time that the reflections and discernment for another step in the MIA process was realised. This going forward is enshrined in the 2007 Vision of MIA which invites much greater collaboration among all mercy groups, and enables us ‘to keep alive the founding spirit of Catherine among peoples of the world most in need of God’s compassion and Mercy’. It was a great privilege to be part of that discernment.

As I pause to recall my years in MIC it is the friendship of my fellow sisters and volunteers from around the world that lives in me at a very personal level. What a joy it was to be in Catherine’s Home together and what a privilege it was to open the door of her house to all pilgrims! Those sisters were and continue to be for me a gift, something that I cherish on a daily basis. Although ongoing commitments now make for few meeting times, our bonds of friendship remain, strong and lasting.

Messages to: Caitlín Conneely rsm

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