June 12, 2006

Mercy International Association Visioning Statement 2006

The Story...

God’s gracious and compassionate Mercy is the wellspring, the source of never failing supply, for all those who cherish and seek to live out this gift of Mercy.

Catherine McAuley, touched and formed by this wellspring of God’s mercy, and in her desire to address poverty and its expressions in 19th century Ireland, began the Sisters of Mercy as a corporate body who would vow to serve the poor, sick and ignorant. In Catherine’s time, her response to need took the shape of the opening of the House of Mercy at Baggot Street on the boundary between those who were rich and poor in Dublin at that time. The mercy mission spread throughout the world through daring women willing to respond to need in various countries. For over 150 years, the call was to move the founding spirit of Catherine to all parts of the world to address whatever the most significant needs might be.

In the 1980s through the energizing work of God’s Spirit, another call was heard. This was a call to return to Catherine’s home and transform it to a place of renewal for Sisters of Mercy worldwide…a place of pilgrimage, heritage and hospitality, where the fire of the Mercy charism could be re-ignited, where Catherine could be met anew and through that encounter strength and courage would be found to return home to continue the works of mercy.

In support of this new vision, the leaders of Mercy congregations across the world came together at Baggot Street and established what became known as Mercy International Association. MIA’s initial purpose was to further this new initiative and steward the refurbishment of Catherine’s home which became Mercy International Centre.

Gradually new initiatives to respond to contemporary global needs were created: an international Mercy justice network, an NGO status at the United Nations, a network of Mercy archivists, a global Mercy communications network and a series of international conferences, on such topics as formation, leadership, etc. MIA today continues to steward and promote this vision through integrated efforts of spirituality, communications and justice to address global concerns in need of God’s mercy.

As the 21st century began, MIA saw a need once again to re-focus its vision in light of changing realities in the member congregations and in the world. This coincided with a new enthusiasm to promote Catherine’s life and the charism of mercy and an aspiration that she be formally recognized as a saint. MIA set about a visioning process to include congregational leadership teams and leaders of current MIA projects which took place in May 2006. Participants in this process addressed the following question: If you were to see Mercy International Centre as the well-spring of MIA, how would you re-vision MIA into the future?

The Emerging Vision...

The new vision emerging from the visioning process focuses on addressing global poverty and its current demonstration in the massive displacement of persons worldwide. This will entail the transformation of MIC from its current reality as a centre of rich heritage and hospitality to also become a place to coordinate Mercy’s response to needs worldwide today. Such coordination will require that all MIA projects be integrated in service of this vision. This will include the need for a diversity of programs, expanded communications and outreach efforts through the use of modern technology, and the creation of additional accommodations and conference facilities.

The Goal...

The goal of MIA is now to create a new framework (structure) that will enflesh this vision.

The Timeline...

June - December 2006:Creation of a framework to enflesh the vision

December 2006:MIA conference call to review draft framework

Dec 2006-April 2007: Small group of MIA to take forward action from conference call

May 2007:Proposal for new framework presented to be presented at annual MIA meeting

The Funding...

Recognizing that the implementation of this vision will require significant funding, MIA is exploring various funding options including foundations, grants, significant gifts and donations from those persons and organizations who support our Mercy mission as well as funding from individual Mercy congregations.

The Challenge...

Just as in Catherine’s time, her desire to connect those who were rich with those who were poor resulted in the building of the House of Mercy at Baggot Street, so in our world today through the use of modern technology and our global Mercy network, we seek to create ways of bridging the increasing gap between those who are rich and those who are poor. Catherine used her inheritance in the service of responding to this need in her time. Today, Sisters of Mercy must use their resources, their inheritance, to continue this response in ways that are appropriate to this time and in ways that ensure that co-workers and colleagues in Mercy will have a firm foundation to nourish their call in Mercy.

In this time of aging and diminishing resources, to pursue this vision may seem like “folly”. And, yet, like Catherine, we….

May 23, 2006 Mercy International Association

Messages to Ethel Bignell rsm MIA Administrator

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