September 21, 2010

MIA welcomes Women’s Therapy Centre to MIC on Mercy Day

On 24th September, 1827, at least four years before the foundation of the Mercy Congregation, the House on Baggot Street opened as a school for poor young girls and a residence for homeless girls and women. On the same date, 183 years later, Mercy Day, 2010, MIA is delighted to welcome the Women’s Therapy Centre into what was originally the House of Mercy.

One of the two principle objects of MIA is to respond to the cry of the poor in Dublin in a spirit of mutuality, compassion and mercy. MIA’s desire to promote this object and the Women’s Therapy project’s need for a Centre met, resulting in the location of the project on the top floor of 23 Herbert Street, the building which now forms part of Mercy International Centre.

The initiator of the Women’s Therapy project, Sister Jo Kennedy, RSM, is a therapist with a vast amount of practical experience, particularly in the area of women’s health. She believes that providing psychotherapy for women whatever their financial circumstances is an exercise in empowerment for women in some of the most vulnerable situations.

The core service of the Women’s Therapy Centre is the provision of counselling and psychotherapy for individual women, particularly women who experience poverty and discrimination. The Women’s Therapy Centre provide consultation and training services to agencies that respond to women clients. Among these are Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, The Immigrant Council of Ireland, Sonas Housing Association and Women’s Aid. This allows the Women’s Therapy Centre to develop working relationships and links with a small amount of key agencies that respond to women experiencing violence in intimate relationships, women who have left abusive relationships, women working in prostitution and women refugees and immigrants who may be experiencing some form of abuse as well as the particular stresses associated with unclear residency status, racism and loneliness. The Centre also links with community agencies that support and offer services for women.

Catherine was very familiar with the plight of the women of her day and the poverty, violence , abuse and oppression that many of them experienced. Her main aim in establishing the House of Mercy was to provide these women with the support and empowerment they needed to become agents of their own liberation. The chairperson of the Women’s Therapy centre reflects this same ideal when she says : To help a client along the road of liberating herself from paralyzing fear, trauma or self doubt can be a service of enablement and encouragement for her on her personal journey to become her best and most functional and capable self. It is recorded that Catherine welcomed women in need of support into the House of Mercy as their home. MIA wants to extend that same hospitality to the Women’s Therapy Centre and to all who minister and are ministered to there. We are proud that we can facilitate a ministry that continues the empowering and compassionate outreach to women in need as Catherine and generations of Mercy sisters have done in this very place.

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