August 06, 2012

Reflecting on my Experience During Wellsprings

Over the past month we have seen and heard from the four presenters at the Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy month long renewal programme. Each week in Mercy E-news we have been able to experience through the powerful medium of video, a summary of the insights of Elizabeth Davis rsm, Elaine Wainwright rsm, Mary Sullivan rsm and Ray Maria MacNamara rsm shared with the participants. Some of the participants now share their reflections with us.

Selina Mbuli rsm –
Kenyan Province, Congregation of Sisters of Mercy
Looking back on the month that is just past, I could easily identify with Mary and say in my own language "God has favoured me!" It was a month full of richness.

The renewal program (Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy) came in handy and at a time when I really needed it.....a time to step aside out of stop ministering to others and to be the recipient of such great gifts.

It was a time, being at home in Catherine´s house and facilitated by the world´s best Mercy women speakers, when we gathered from the five continents rich in diversity to water our roots—encounter each other, share experiences and to re-discover a new the richness and beauty of the Charism of Mercy that we have inherited as daughters of God and of Catherine, and I could sing proudly and reverently the hymn ' I am standing on the shoulders of all those who came before me...'

The four weeks were knitted together like a piece of crotchet in different thread colours with each speaker preparing ground for the next. I heard repeatedly how Catherine responded to the cry of the poor using all means possible to make a difference in people's lives. Today more than ever before we are reminded that the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth is the same and that human trafficking is exploitation of vulnerability.

Catherine was a bridge builder and we are called to be women healers, repairers of a broken world and to embody mercy as Jesus did in the Gospel healing stories. To touch and to be touched by the poor.

As I go home, I will remember that a Mercy Woman is a Contemplative in action (a monk outside the walls) and to contemplate what it means to take a l o n g... l o v i n g... l o o k at the Real(God) /real(the Natural world of all the living and non living beings). We all share the same habitat—the Universe.

Messages to: Selina Mbuli rsm

Ellen Cahill rsm –
Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney Congregation
To have been a participant at this time of the ‘Wellspring’ Programme has been a privilege. To have had such an experience of Mercy with our world accepted lecturers, our own Sisters of Mercy, deeply seeped in love, wisdom, and knowledge of our humble foundress, Catherine, and her beginning of our immensely global congregation, leaves one ‘speechless’

Our leaders, each who walked and awakened us to be voices for the Poor, Srs Elizabeth Davis, Elaine Wainwright, Mary Sullivan, and Ray Maria McNamara, have left an indelible mark in my life and opened me to the fragility of Mother Earth, the call of Mercy and Justice, and reading of the Scriptures with the sight of Catherine McAuley.

This month has been grace-filled with Mass, liturgical experiences, and great camaraderie among the Sisters who have come from many countries and shared their language, prayerfulness and cultures. Thank God and trusting in God’s Providence it will continue to provide for future generations.

Thanks also to Adele Howard, who tirelessly worked behind the camera during the course and has provided us with great memories.

Messages to:  Ellen Cahill c/o Jacinta Dolan rsm

Marie Etheridge rsm –
Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland
Participating in the program “Watering the Roots at the Wellsprings of Mercy” was very special for me. I am one of the newest branches on the Mercy Tree! Living in Catherine’s house, praying at her tomb and in her room, visiting Coolock House, St. Theresa’s Church and George’s Hill were all graced moments.

Our program presenters gave us such inspiring talks, showing that our Mercy tradition is a living tradition which challenges us to be Mercy to the broken ones in our world as well as to our suffering earth.

The highlight of my whole experience was the purchase and blessing of my ring for Final Profession. My ring was purchased at H. Samuel on Henry Street in the neighbourhood of St. Mary’s Street where Catherine lived with the Armstrongs and the Callahans. My motto, “Here I am, Lord” was engraved at Samuel’s! Think Catherine and the Holy Spirit were at work here? The story gets better. At George’s Hill my ring was placed beside Catherine’s Profession ring and was blessed by our group of Mercy Sisters from all over the world! What an unforgettable moment in my life.

I pray in gratitude for all who made it possible for me to participate in “Watering the Roots at the Wellsprings of Mercy.” I pray that I will walk faithfully in Catherine’s footsteps of tender Mercy.

Messages to: Marie Etheridge rsm


Jacinta Dolan rsm –
Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney Congregation
I have been privileged to spend the month of July at the Mercy International Centre in Dublin to take part with Sisters of Mercy from around the world in the renewal programme ‘Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy’. The richness of this time, walking and living in the very place where Catherine lived and died, was beyond any expectations that I may have had prior to coming to Dublin.

I will always remember the wonderful warm welcome I received the first time I walked through the door of 64a – to immediately feel at home was great after such a long journey. Four wonderful Mercy women by their skills, knowledge, and love for Catherine and all that is Mercy—challenged us, in so many gentle ways, to be Mercy in the world to-day. Topics included Scripture—the Beatitudes, creation, justice and the wonderful letters and traditions of Catherine. The four presentations had quite distinct themes but each was skillfully linked in such a way to create a cohesive programme.

Sharing stories and learning something of the culture of other countries made this month so special. I am sure that no one could be part of this special Mercy journey without being transformed in some way. To be part of the global community fully embodied in Mercy—to be Mercy to all—this is the challenge.

Messages to: Jacinta Dolan rsm

Pat Feehan rsm –
Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea
My Dublin pilgrimage emerged as, and became an encounter with, the universe... and God's dream and Catherine's embodiment of that dream. Elizabeth, Elaine, Mary and Ray Maria challenged me to perceive God's dream in new ways and to name the divine from the perspective of what God desires.

Catherine's story and my part in it as symbolised through the renewal of vows at the place she took her vows (Georges Hill) was a commissioning for me to encounter the universe of which I'm a part. Questions arose as to how I came be a part of God's dream and be deaf to the cries of those who are cruelly treated and to the earth itself which is being cruelly treated. I was challenged by Catherine's story to be free to see those who are cruelly treated within my own context where I walk each day.

My reflections on the meaning of God's dream challenged me to not only speak of God's dream but to fully live it.

Messages to: Pat Feehan rsm


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Fatima Letoa Lemisio rsm –
Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa / Sisters of Mercy New Zealand
I was very fortunate to journey with and be guided by our own Mercy Scholars on a most profound and enriching month at our Mercy House. It was the very soil where the first Mercy seed was sown and hence the Wellspring of our Mercy story began!

This amazing story has echoed all over the world and I was privileged to hear it told again in many creative ways by our Sisters from around the world, who like me, came to water roots from our wellsprings. This amazing group of Sisters from various countries and in different ages and professions added colour and energy to our time together. Each week was inspirational and unique and it was always accompanied by a challenge!

There were a myriad of highlights and profound insights of the four weeks that touched me but the one that struck and continues to stay with me was the connectedness or the common element that was shared and resonates among all these engagements. This is the 'desire to be in solidarity with the poor, including mother earth - sharing our resources and making good choices for the sake of all'. This message resonated with Catherine Mc Auley in her time. It resonated with Jesus Christ in his time. Both Catherine and Jesus stood in solidarity with the poor, the outcast, the voiceless. Hence, the same message resonates with me today - that I must be aware of the cry of the poor and our earth. "The cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are one". The challenge for me is how to share my resources today; how to respond to issues of the global poverty that affects humans and our earth. How do I embody mercy...

This was a sacred time for me. It has broadened my knowledge and made me more aware of my call as a Sister of Mercy. I am more aware of the issues around the world and I continue to be challenged. I perceive our broken earth with new eyes and my own brokenness within my relationships with people, with others in community and with God.

I am thankful to those women whose shoulders I stand on ... the women who made meaning in my life!

Messages to: Fatima Letoa Lemisio rsm

Mary Lynch rsm –
Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea
The return journey from Dublin to Sydney provided me with plenty of time to reflect on the happenings of the past four weeks spent at MIC Dublin with other Mercy sisters from Africa, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Samoa, USA, Peru and Newfoundland.

This was an interesting group of varying ages and experience, finally professed and those preparing for a life commitment as a Sister of Mercy. Teachers, Health workers, Social workers, Youth workers, Spiritual Directors, people involved with Archives, semi-retired (we know RSM’s don’t retire!) and Students. People who work in the centre of large cities and those who minister in the most challenging mission, in places where poverty and need prevail, people from islands and those from huge continents. Yet we all came together for the month of July to share the experience of the Wellsprings program and to be part of World Mercy.

This was the most important learning for me - I am a Sister of Mercy of the World.

Part of a great work established in Dublin in 1831 by Catherine McAuley and passed onto me through the connection of the adventurous and courageous women who came from Charleville to Bathurst in 1866. Having in December had the amazing experience of becoming a Sister of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (leaving my provincial roots) I was probably open to something new and even more exciting, and here it was- WORLD MERCY. And I was to have this experience in the place where it all began - Baggot Street Dublin. So I have returned ‘different’, probably not more pious or holier, but full of the spirit of Catherine.

The four presenters –Elizabeth, Elaine, Mary and Ray-Maria – each provided knowledge and insights in their own area of expertise and provided me with much food for thought. As the major content has been presented to the world through the medium of You-Tube and Adele Howard’s mighty talent I hardly need to repeat it.

  •  From Elizabeth I came to experience a sense of walking/living on the holy ground of a planet that needs me to be in a healthy relationship with it and every living thing. I feel a bit faint as I consider the implications of this.
  •  From Elaine I learned of ‘embodied mercy’ and ‘ecological thinking’ and valued the opportunity to explore the Gospel of Matthew and to learn ‘to hear in the bigger way’ the call to mercy and to justice.
  • From Mary Sullivan I learned what it is to be a fan! I am now definitely a Mary Sullivan groupie and through her much more closely connected to Catherine McAuley. She presented a personal testimony of a real woman, giving me an insight into how Catherine really lived Jesus’ way. And now I pause to consider “what is the theology of Jesus Christ that gets me out of bed in the morning?”
  •   From Ray-Maria I take the image of being shadowed by a deaf woman and asking myself “what would she experience of me as a Sister of Mercy, what compassion and gentleness, goodness and justice would she experience in me if she followed me for a week?”

So I have come home with questions and challenges and the picture of myself as part of World Mercy, grateful for the friendship and sharing in the Wellsprings’ group and an awareness that there are many Mercy fires to be lit yet. I keep thinking on a line from a poem by Mary Oliver- ‘be ignited or be gone’

 What I Have Learned So Far
Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don't think so.
All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of -- indolence, or action.
Be ignited, or be gone.
~ Mary Oliver ~
(New and Selected Poems Volume Two)

Messages to: Mary Lynch rsm

Mary McWeeney rsm –
South Central Province (Ireland), Congregation of Sisters of Mercy

,h6>During the month of July I spent four weeks in the company of Mercy Sisters from all over the world following a programme "Watering the roots at the wellspring of Mercy" and indeed the four weeks lived up to that expectation. I had the privilege of having the time to take a "long loving look" at who I am as a Sister of Mercy in our world of today with all that implies.

Each week was a seamless deepening of the previous week's input as we listened to and shared experiences with all the wonderful speakers we had during the month.

For many years of my ministry I was so engaged with it I hardly thought of Catherine. It was truly wonderful to listen to and engage with Mary Sullivan rsm as she shared her love and in-depth study of Catherine's life with us. I felt I gained new insights of what it truly means to be Mercy in today’s world. Catherine was a woman of compassion and "Theotokas" to all whom she met.

Having been on such a deeply spiritual journey into the depths of my being and with my World Mercy community has deepened my awareness and consciousness of how powerful and influential we can be as individuals and a congregation with regard to our ecological planet.

The month has been a wonderful experience for me and had deepened and renewed me in Mercy. The programme was so enriching and filled with such depth and blessings that I can process it for many many days, weeks and months to come.

Messages to: Mary McWeeney rsm

Maureen O’Keefe rsm –
Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland
How deep, far-reaching and intertwined the roots that were watered at the Wellsprings of Mercy at MIC on Baggot Street in July, 2012!

I felt so privileged to be part of a group of Mercy Sisters from all corners of the globe. We gathered in our common bond of Mercy to share experiences, to learn from one another, to pray and laugh together, and to be challenged to ongoing passionate commitment to respond to the cries of the poor and the cries of the earth that are echoing throughout our world.

Four of our eminent Mercy scholars: Elizabeth Davis, Ray Maria McNamara, Mary Sullivan and Elaine Wainwright opened up for us the living legacy of Mercy that is ours and challenged us together as Global Mercy to be the prophetic witnesses of God’s tender loving mercy in our world today.

In the spirit of Catherine McAuley and the numerous Mercy Sisters on whose shoulders we stand, we renewed that commitment in the chapel at George’s Hill. We each held Catherine’s Profession Ring and drew strength from her spirit to generously engage in the challenges of the future. I felt with Frances Ward, “it is indeed a blessing to be a Sister of Mercy.”

Thanks to all who made this experience so rich and rewarding. May it send our roots deeper and make our branches ever fruitful.

Messages to:  Maureen O’Keefe rsm

Joyce Oluoch
Kenyan Province, Congregation of Sisters of Mercy
I had a wonderful time in Baggot St. and some of the highlights of the renewal program for me were the following: - the positive energy in the group that animated lively table conversations,
- the deepening of the Mercy Spirituality,
- the creative liturgies and deep sharing in the Doyle room,
- the social evenings,
- meeting our various Mercy Scholars'

As I reflect on the past month in Catherine's house with Sisters of Mercy from a round the world, I am very much inspired by the Sisters' love and fidelity to Mercy. I see global Mercy and I feel very proud to have my sisters all over the world. My way of seeing Mercy has broadened throughout all of the engagement of various Mercy scholars,.

these key insights have remained with me: ecological thinking, being contemplative witnesses, advocacy- being a voice for the poor, embodied mercy, compassion, confidence in God, sincerity, humility, basileia, Inukshuk, vulnerability and human trafficking, dignity in Diversity, women healers, Mercy spirituality, Thoetokos, Mandala, attentive listening,ascetism, prophhetic, service to the poor.

This month-long program has given me renewed energy and enthusiasm in my vocation as a Sister of Mercy.

I feel encouraged to faithfully follow Jesus in the tradition of Catherine McAuley. I have become more conscious of the need for union and charity among ourselves and fidelity to Mercy.

Messages to: Joyce Oluoch rsm


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