October 02, 2013

Mercy Day 2013 Celebrations at Baggot Street

More than 150 Sisters of Mercy, Associates, friends and co-workers came together on Tuesday, 24 September to commemorate Mercy Day 2013 in Baggot Street.

Sisters and Associates from Australia, the U.K., Newfoundland, Kenya and America were warmly welcomed to Catherine's first house of Mercy, to mark the 186th anniversary of the first foundation. With almost every corner of the Mercy world represented, the celebrations had a very international feel, demonstrating exactly how far and wide Catherine's vision of Mercy has spread.

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Celebrations commenced with Eucharist in Catherine’s chapel, celebrated by Bishop Peter Connors - Bishop Emeritus of Ballarat, Australia. Bishop Peter has had a long association with Sisters of Mercy in Australia, most recently with the members of the (former) Ballarat East Congregation. Download the Mass Booklet here (PDF)

The Scripture reading (Exodus 3:1-14; 4:10-15) was proclaimed by Anne O’Connell, Mercy Associate (ISMAPNG) and Anne Doyle rsm (The Congregation) read excerpts from the Limerick Manuscript, an early biographical document about Catherine McAuley. The Gospel reading was Luke 1: 26-38 - the Annunciation.

Mary C. Sullivan rsm (Americas) broke open the word, inviting all present to 'enter deeply into the meaning and call of [today's] readings about the salvation God has promised all of us - and about the call to collaboration and discipleship God has addressed to each of us.'. Her reflection beautifully linked the calls of Moses, Mary and Catherine.  Sr Mary concluded:'May each of us, like Moses and May and Catherine, have the courage and the trust to continually say Yes – again and again – as our lives unfold. For this is what being a disciple of Jesus Christ means'. Sr Mary's reflection can be read here (PDF)

The Liturgy was enhanced by musicians from The Congregation: Dympna Corkell rsm (organ), Ailish O’Brien rsm (violin), Margaret Corkery rsm (guitar) with  Rosaleen Hogan rsm leading the congregational singing.

Prior to the Recessional hymn, Mary Reynolds rsm, Executive Director MIA thanked all those who had organised and participated in the Mercy Day liturgy at Baggot Street. Mary then told the surprised and delighted congregation that she had a very exciting announcement to make – the discovery of what is believed to be an original and accurate portrait of Catherine McAuley! At the same time as the announcement was made in the chapel, it was also shared with the global Mercy family through Mercy e-news so that near or far, all would share that same moment of excitement.

Having thanked those with special roles in the Liturgy, Mary
Reynolds rsm (MIA) reveals the portrait
Mary Reynolds rsm (MIA) with Danielle Hicks-Gallagher

The illustration, which was discovered by Mercy Associate Danielle Hicks-Gallagher, appears in the artwork of Clare Augustine Moore’s manuscript ‘The Rule and Constitution of the Religious Sisters of Mercy’, on the page entitled ‘Of the Superior and of the Visitation of the Monastery’.

Admiring the detail of the portraitHaving a close look at the framed version

Although the page has been seen by many people down through the years, the significance of the woman in the full Mercy habit was overlooked. However when Danielle began working on the digital archive of Clare Augustine Moore’s works, she raised the question of the identity of this Sister, and the importance of this illustration came to light.

 l-r Ailish O'Brien rsm, Margaret Corkery rsm
(The Congregation)
Danielle Hicks-Gallager, Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm (MIA),
Mary Reynolds rsm (MIA)


Using high resolution digital photography, the detail of the illustration became apparent, and combined with Clare Augustine's own written description of Catherine McAuley it appears that we now have a true original illustration of Catherine!

Following the Eucharist, guests were invited to enjoy refreshments in the dining room and garden. The weather being warm (!) many chose  to share lunch and conversation outside.

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The day provided a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends on this very special occasion, made all the more memorable with the unveiling of a true image of Catherine McAuley.

The framed image (available to view) is now on display in the Heritage room of Mercy International Centre, and reproductions on cards and posters are available for sale in the gift shop.

Click here to read the full story of Danielle’s wonderful discovery!

Messages to:
Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director, MIA
Danielle Hicks-Gallagher - Author of 'An Illuminating Discovery'

Images: Adele Howard rsm (ISMAPNG)

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