April 06, 2016

On Pilgrimage in Rome: 'Walking Together As One'

Editor: Thirty-nine Sisters, Associates and partners-in-Mercyfrom Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Peru, Samoa, Tonga and United States of America— have just concluded the final leg of our global Mercy pilgrimage with their attendance in Rome for Divine Mercy Sunday.

'We are having an extraordinary time here in Rome - a very moving experience,' wrote Mary Reynolds rsm on Saturday evening.

The Mercy group were in Rome from Friday, 1 April until Tuesday, 5 April. On Saturday they walked (pictured) to the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica , praying the Rosary and singing the Suscipe en route. Once inside the Basilica there were opportunities for adoration and reconciliation. That afternoon and early evening, along with tens of thousands of other pilgrims, the Mercy group attended testimonies and music and a prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square with Pope Francis present. On Sunday they were at the 10.30 am celebration of Mass with Pope Francis.

L-r: Mary Reynolds rsm, MIA Executive Director (Ireland), Diane Smyth rsm (Newfoundland) carrying the Mercy cross and Brenda Dolphin rsm, Postulator (Ireland), lead the pilgrims on Procession to the Holy Door

On Monday, the final day, the pilgrims visited the Church of St. Pudenziana where the original painting of Our Lady of Mercy is held. In the 19th Century, as a sign of approval and benediction of the new congregation, Pope Leo XIII gifted the Sisters of Mercy with an oil painting reproduction of this image which is hung in the Baggot Street chapel.

Gathered at the painting the pilgrims recommitted their lives in Mercy 'and to the commitment symbolised in this pilgrimage and the entering through the Holy Door'. A copy of the ritual of commitment and closure can be downloaded here. 'It was a wonderful close to a wonderful pilgrimage, ' shared Sr Mary.

Gallery One: Preparations and First Days in Rome

Gallery Two: To the Holy Door, In St Peter's Square On the Way to St Pudenziana

Messages to: Mary Reynolds rsm - Executive Director MIA

Blessing and opening of Mercy Hub of Mission, Action and Spirituality on Divine Mercy Sunday

There was a special connection with the events in Rome for members of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). At 2pm Melbourne time, on Sunday, 3 April, just as the global circle of prayer concluded, the blessing and opening ceremony for the new Mercy Hub of Mission, Action and Spirituality in Community South C commenced.

The Gathering Prayer brought the Mercy International Reflection Process to mind as Sisters, partners-in-Mercy and friends prayed these words together: 'It is the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor today that impels us to reflection, prayer, action and service. This indeed is the heartbeat of what it means to walk the path of mercy'.

Berneice Loch rsm, Institute Leader and MIA President, led the blessing ceremony, reminding those present of the significance of gathering on a day so important for mercy, with our mercy presence in Rome for the Year of Mercy celebrations and a day when Mercy was connected around the globe in a very special way.

The holy water for the blessing came from the Convent of Mercy Fitzroy, the first Mercy Foundation on the East Coast of Australia. It was in Fitzroy and literally 'just down the road' that Ursula Frayne, the twelfth Sister of Mercy, established the Mercy Mission in Melbourne in 1857.

Messages to: Faye Kelly rsm - Leader Community South C

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