December 04, 2004

Renewing our Foundations

When giving tours of Catherine’s House on Baggot Street, I often show visitors the photos of the living room and Catherine’s former bedroom at George’s Hill.

I say a little bit about George’s Hill…the Presentation Convent in Dublin where Catherine McAuley, Anna Maria Doyle and Elizabeth Harley went to make their novitiate before professing their vows as the first Sisters of Mercy.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit that chapel at George’s Hill where these three professed their vows on December 12, 1841. I felt their presence as I imagined them professing their vows and establishing the Institute of Mercy 163 years ago this week as they signed their names on the proverbial dotted line. What were they feeling that day?! Were they relieved that novitiate was over? Were they grateful to God? Were they excited about the future? Were they anxious to get back to Baggot Street? I imagine that all were true feelings. Perhaps that is why they didn’t even stay for breakfast….so uncharacteristic of Catherine, who was usually very hospitable. See apologized to the Presentation Sisters later; she had been away 15 months and there were some at Baggot Street who had been very ill. It was time for the ministry to start….or really to continue…for God’s poor and ill.

A convent had been founded that day that would touch the whole world. This is evidenced in the Sisters, Associates and colleagues of Mercy who minister in many parts of the world today. Mercy is international…but its vision started with this courageous woman of Dublin. A woman who was willing to lead the way of change and challenge. We all begin anew in visiting our foundation. Happy Foundation Day!

Barb Stinard rsm

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