'New Year 2020: A Reflection' by Mary Reynolds rsm
Welcome back to all our Readers and a special word of welcome to those joining us for the first time!
As we face a new year and a new decade, we are aware of our many blessings and we are conscious, too, of the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor that continue to call for our attention. The Jubilee year that we have just celebrated was an opportunity to rejoice in the Mercy global identity that has been forged over the past 25 years. This was facilitated in no small part by our Mercy World website and weekly newsletter. The Jubilee celebrations also reminded us of the many ways in which Catherine’s story and the Mercy story have provided inspiration and nourishment for all who seek to keep alive the Founding Spirit of Catherine among people of the world most in need of God’s compassion and Mercy. Yet, like Catherine who looked out on the suffering of the people of Dublin in the 1830s, we look out on a world that bears the scars of the displacement of people and the degradation of earth.
As 2020 dawned, the traditional first fireworks over Sydney harbour seemed somehow out of place as the Australian bush fires ravaged the land and sent people fleeing to safety. In ways, Australia is but a microcosm of our earth and our world, Extreme weather including floods, storms, droughts and wildfires struck every inhabited continent in the past year, causing devastation and loss of life. Climate breakdown played a key role in at least 15 events in 2019. Extreme weather events displaced a record seven million people from their homes during the first six months of 2019. Our MIA Vision which states that by being ‘actively engaged in the protection of our Common Home, we will witness to the sacredness of all creation’ is a relevant and urgent call to us to respond both at the practical and systemic levels, as is the Mercy tradition. Practically, there are the life-style choices that we are encouraged to make and systemically, we need to do what we can to change policies and practices that respect the rights of nature and promote systemic change for real climate solutions.
On February 28, I conclude my eleven year service of MIA as Executive Director/CEO. I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have shared this journey with me, including, Members, Board Directors, Team Members and Staff. Their contributions were immense and I hope they are justly proud of the progress we have made together in activating the vision of MIA. I hope, also, that the original dreamers of MIA and those who have preceded us feel that we have been faithful to tending the seeds that they planted.
People have asked me what were the highlights of my time with MIA and that is not easy to capture in a few lines. I am particularly happy that the variety of programmes offered at MIA has increased and to have seen such a growth in the involvement of our lay colleagues and youth in these programmes. I am convinced that the future of the Mercy charism is in safe hands. I have cherished memories of great global Mercy celebrations such as the 20th Anniversary, the Year of Mercy and the recent Jubilee celebrations. I rejoice in the ways we were able to develop Catherine’s house as a place of heritage and pilgrimage – the upgrade to the International Room, which has been further enriched by the new telling of Catherine’s story in the film ‘In God Alone; the installation of the entrance glass doors that welcome in the friend and the stranger, the redevelopment of the Sacred Garden and many other improvements that enhance the experience of pilgrims and guests. The Mercy International Reflection Process was an extraordinary way of discerning anew the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor today and the Mercy Global Presence process is moving us to shape the new words, new language, new spirituality and new theology to describe or even recognise Mercy Global Presence in our midst. It is an immense satisfaction to know that the fundraising efforts have resulted in assuring the future sustainability of MIA. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our donors and to the faith and efforts of those who believed, against all the odds, that it was possible to achieve our targets.
Sr. Berneice Loch arrives in Ireland this week and will take up her role on March 1st. We warmly welcome her and wish her every blessing . With her many gifts and wide experience, she is well equipped to lead MIA forward.
Thank you to each and all for your friendship, support and encouragement over the years.
It is a joy and privilege to be part of the Mercy global family.
—Mary Reynolds rsm
Mary Reynolds rsm has been the Executive Director/ CEO of Mercy International Association (MIA) since March 2008, leading, integrating, developing and managing MIA in accordance with the MIA Vision.
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