Reflecting on the Experience of Participating in the Wellspring Programme (MIA)
In Mercy E-news Issues 518 -521 (June 12, 19, 26 and July 3, 2013) we were able to experience through the powerful medium of video, the insights Marie Chin rsm, Veronica Lawson rsm, Madeline Duckett rsm and Janet Ruffing rsm shared with the participants during the 2013 Wellspring programme
Here the participants to share from their reflections on their experiences.
Marian Dolan rsm (Kenyan Province, Congregation of Sisters of Mercy [Ireland])
I came to Baggot Street with no expectations, having only just left Kenya and having exited a rather busy job in the Mater Hospital, Nairobi.
Grappling with a heavy head cold, at least a 15 degree drop in temperature along with trying to negotiate trains and busses not to mention meeting 20 new faces, felt very strange for a few days.
Marie Chin’s input on religious worldview, religious life today, and the vows was very reassuring and affirming and I began to feel at home.
A week of scripture – Mercy in St Luke’s Gospel, with Veronica Lawson – gave me new insights and affirmed me in my own reflection of the Gospels. Through week one and again in week three we were intimately introduced to Catherine – her family and early life and her entire 10 years as a Sister of Mercy: walking with her in the streets of Dublin, in Coolock, George’s Hill and Baggot St. Our visit to the crypt in Clarendon Street church was particularly moving. All of the above was done with utmost reverence and ritual. The experience was deeply moving for me and brought me to a new depth of appreciating our rich Mercy heritage. Thank you to Áine Barrins and Madeleine Duckett who led that.
Week four with Janet Ruffing brought it all together as we looked at Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich and Dorothy Day among others.
Each portion of the course dovetailed into and built on what had gone before. The entire exercise was conducted in a sensitive, reflective and sharing manner and was brought to daily Eucharist and periods of quiet prayer together. It led the entire group to a deeper appreciation of our rich Mercy heritage.
I, for one, look forward to reliving and reimmersing myself in the entire experience with the videos that Adele Howard has labored so intensely to produce.
Thank you one and all who have made these four weeks possible.
Messages to: Marian Dolan rsm
Janet Lowe rsm (Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea)
The four weeks of Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy have been a truly amazing enriching experience, which passed all too quickly.
Our group which included sisters from Australia, PNG, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand and the United States brought alive the reality of Mercy being international. While from very different life experiences our common response to follow Catherine enabled a strong bond to develop among us.
The excellent input from each of the four presenters was stimulating, thought provoking and often challenging. Many words such as ‘abundance’, ‘soul wound’, ‘womb-love’, ‘tenderness’, ‘elegant choices’, ‘spiritual energy’, ‘one with God’, and ‘whole-making’ are just some that keep running through my ‘monkey mind’ demanding my attention and contemplation.
The abundance and richness of these four weeks have been a renewal treasure that I have been privileged to share and I am most grateful to all who made it possible both at home and in Catherine’s own home.
Messages to: Janet Lowe rsm
Jacqui Miles rsm (Sisters of Mercy, Aotearoa New Zealand)
Over these 4 weeks I have felt renewed, refreshed and challenged.
I felt excited and privileged being able to live here in Catherine’s house and to sit in the special rooms knowing Catherine had been here all those years ago. I feel I know her better now as a woman and am keen to spend more time with her as a mentor and friend.
Each presenter – Marie, Veronica, Madeleine and Janet have woven a tapestry that is rich in colours of Mercy, gratitude, reality and God’s oneness/wholeness – in myself, others and the Cosmos.
I’m most grateful for this time together with my Sisters on the course, and for each member of the staff. We were often reminded to 'go down, down, down…. To the place in you where (Mercy) dwells…' (Adaption of poem by Ann Powell)
Over these weeks I have been immersed in Catherine’s spirit, The Wellspring of Mercy. It is truly life giving and deep.
Messages to: Jacqui Miles rsm
Lorraine Thomas rsm (Sisters of Mercy, Aotearoa New Zealand)
Little did I know the graces in store for me when I enrolled for 'Watering the Roots'. Just to sit in the presence of and to listen to such gifted and dedicated Mercy women was inspiring. Catherine must have been smiling.
I was enriched and challenged as each presenter shared from her heart. The more I listened to these spirit filled women the more I was inspired. The programme was planned so as to allow time for reflection and rest.
The staff were warm and welcoming and always attentive to our needs. I leave MIC having been nourished in body and soul, heart and mind – all I had hoped for and more!
Now it is for me to put all I have received into action while bringing hope to the afflicted and suffering.
Lorraine Thomas rsm
Susan Evangelist Teague rsm (Northern Province, Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy [Ireland])
Four grace filled and powerful weeks led by wonderful Sisters of Mercy, Sr Marie Chin (Jamaica), Sr Madeline Duckett (Australia) assisted by Sr Áine Barrins (Ireland), Veronica Lawson rsm (Australia), Janet Ruffing rsm (America).
Topics covered were:
- 'Vows' beautifully demonstrated as 'elegant choices to bring God’s healing to a wounded world' after the example of the self sacrificing love of Jesus;
- 'Mercy' in the Bible with concentration on Luke’s Acts against the back drop of Hebrew scripture;
- Our call to be mercy and compassion as we reflect on the many names and images of mercy throughout the Bible and as we minister to a broken world;
- A call to retrieve characters in stories e.g. mother in story of prodigal son, etc.;
- Catherine McAuley’s association with Baggot St house and other places and her many relationships both joyful and sad and her deep spirituality which helped all to see her as a whole /holy human being driven by deep compassion;
- Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and Catherine in the light of contemplation, gratitude and compassion which brought the month to an end and helped us all integrate and connect insights and knowledge gathered over the 3 weeks.
Hopefully this course has helped us ponder and reflect so that we too can see our role in bringing a new consciousness of God’s all embracing love and this much needed transformation to birth. Julian of Norwich’s words are needed: 'All will be well and all manner of things will be well'. Yes, if I and all of us remain faithful and abide in love, we will like Catherine McAuley bear much fruit.
Susan Evangelist Teague rsm
Stephanie Kitching rsm (Sisters of Mercy, Aotearoa New Zealand)
What a gifted and graced four weeks here at Catherine’s House!
This opportunity to be steeped in Mercy through input from Mercy women knowledgeable and skilled in their areas of vows, scripture, Catherine’s life, vision and times and the contemplative works of the mystics as they relate to our way of living has offered an invaluable depthing of my commitment to Mercy in today’s world. The depth of scholarship we were offered in a way that was easily absorbed and worked with was astounding.
The hospitality offered would have been smiled on by Catherine. The friendships made in the diverse international participant group will widen our Mercy global vision. Most of all for me was the increased understanding of the balance of activity and contemplation and how Catherine wove this into her busy life as she trusted in the Providence of God and remained strong in the face of hardships.
Messages to: Stephanie Kitching rsm
Reflection by Margaret Adams rsm (Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea) given on 20 June.
I think we all realize that throughout her whole life Catherine understood and lived these words of Mark’s Gospel – she knew how to pray, she knew how to depend on God and to trust in God’s providence, she knew how to forgive, she even exhorts us, her sisters, not to let the sun go down on our anger……
For additional Wellspring Reflections choose the next page:
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