Showcasing Our Heritage
Heritage Day was sponsored by Together Digital, developers of our award-winning Mercyworld.org website
Middle row: The refectory bell, Catherine's rosary, her workbox
Back row: Deed box, locket of Catherine's hair, her thimble, the crucifix held on her death bed
Editor: Thursday's programme offered sessions on: the heritage collection, the stained glass in the chapel and other parts of the building, an organ recital, talks on early Mercy women and on 25 years of Global Action, an exploration of the Mercyworld.org website, a tour of the Sacred Garden, screening of the film 'In God Alone', refreshments and a closing ritual. Certainly a full programme.
Anna Nicholls rsm, Leader, Heritage & Spirituality, addressed three aspects of heritage in her presentation as the title of her talk indicates - the importance of keeping records (Preserve), those who have been responsible over the years for tending the collection with love and care for the inspiration and nourishment of future Mercy generations (Preservers), and the new software programme MIA has chosen to digitise and make the Mercy heritage available online for the inspiration of the Mercy world (Preservica). This she demonstrated. It is expected that by the end of this year Mercy researchers will be able to access the first of the digitised assets. An announcement will be made in Mercy eNews.
In her presentation, Sr Anna also showed the plans of the House (see Gallery), a viewing received with great interest and delight.
Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm (Americas), a former Leader of Heritage & Spirituality (2009-2017) presented on Clare Augustine Moore.
Clare Augustine Moore (1810-1880) was one of the finest illuminators in Europe of her day, according to Mercy historian Sr M Teresa Austin Carroll (1835-1909). Another Mercy historian, Sr M Nathy O’Hara (1902-1990) called her “an artist of much merit”. In addition to Clare Augustine’s illuminations, Clare Augustine was one of the first to begin a biography on Catherine McAuley (1778-1841). However, she had a sometimes complex relationship with “the foundress” as Catherine’s patience was on occasion tried by “the artist”.
Mary Kay's presentation considered what we know of Clare Augustine’s life, explored her relationship with Catherine and what we can learn today for our own lives and ministries. Asked why she is drawn to Clare Augustine, Mary Kay replied: 'Clare Augustine Moore has a huge lasting legacy within Mercy through her beautiful illuminations and her early biography on Catherine McAuley. My fascination with her however relates to what we can learn from her, Catherine and the early Mercy community by looking at how she and Catherine portray their relationship in various letters and early manuscripts. In studying these written sources, I find models for our own lives today for how to forgive, how to live with and celebrate differences, and what leadership might mean when faced with temperaments not suited to one’s own. In modeling my life after both Catherine and Clare Augustine, I hope I too can learn something about union and charity and say with those around me “the sun never went down on our anger”.'
The slides from the Presentation, 'Clare Augustine Moore: Biographer & "Artist of Much Merit"' can be accessed below.
A previous presentation co-presented by Mary Kay & Danielle Hicks Gallagher at the Anglo Mercy Archives conference in 2015 can be read here, while 'The Book of Flowers' one of Clare Augustine's most celebrated works, can be viewed online here.
Margaret Daly-Denton's early career as a church musician, composer, liturgist and monastic has resourced her more recent work as a biblical scholar. The Mercy Sisters in Timaru and Christchurch NZ gave Margaret her primary and secondary education, plus a wonderful start on music with piano lessons from Sister Eulalie in Timaru and, later, from Sister De Lourdes in Christchurch.
Margaret gave an organ recital in the chapel (twice) to most appreciative audiences. Her programme of music displayed the quality of the organ, built by William Telford (1809-85) the leading Irish nineteenth century organ builder. In 1999 the organ was restored and rededicated. That story is told here.
To hear the range and sound of the organ, you might like to play a piece from the CD, 'The Telford Voluntaries', professionally recorded in the chapel in 2006 by Paul McKeever, an Organist and Director of Music
Annette Schneider rsm explored the theme ‘Clare Agnew and her Legacy’ under four headings:
- Discovering Clare Agnew: her family and her faith journey
- Some background to Clare’s illustrations of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
- The significance of the sixteenth sketch - ‘Praying for the living’
- Clare’s legacy to our Mercy world and beyond
The research project into Clare Agnew in 2019 undertaken by Sr Annette resulted in the book 'A Lens on the Works of Mercy: Clare Agnew and her Legacy'
The book is available for sale in the MIC Gift Shop
Michael Earley gave a presentation on William Earley, his great grand-uncle (1872-1956), a leading exponent of the craft of stained glass in Ireland who favoured figurative stained glass, as seen in the saints windows in the chapel. William Earley created the Immaculate Conception window which was commissioned and installed in the chapel in 1931 in honour of the centenary of the Sisters of Mercy. Michael discussed the influences on William (Murillo - baroque and Muncha -art nouveau), his style, the difference between painted glass and stained glass, the process of creating stained glass and, significantly pointed out the elements and features in the Immaculate Conception window.
In 2007 the Doyle Room, formerly the library and originally the large infirmary, was refurbished and renamed the Doyle Room after Mary Ann (Anna Maria) Doyle, Catherine's first companion. Emma Horgan's presentation on Mary Ann Doyle took place in this room where Mary Ann's portrait hangs and where can be seen images of her family and relations, the places where she companioned Catherine, the foundations she made in Tullamore and Derry and her place of burial.
Emma's presentation covered the Dublin of Mary Ann's time, her life story and her Mercy story, including her friendship with Catherine.
'I admire Mary Ann', said Emma. 'Often described by her biographers as 'meek', 'introverted' and 'withdrawn', her Mercy story demonstrates her strength of character and her commitment to the charism.'
Appropriately, given her role as Development Officer and promoter of the Good Cup of Tea Event, Emma spoke about fundraising, citing Catherine's letter to Mary Ann (then in Tullamore), written in 1841: 'I wish I could hear of your getting up a lottery or raffle occasionally...If you had two good prizes- and all the rest trifles, you would sell 25 worth of tickets between this and Christmas at 1 s[hilling] per ticket - giving 10 to every [one] you know to sell them'.
A number of stories of early Mercy women were shared today by different presenters. Anna Nicholls rsm presented on Elizabeth Moore and Clare Moore, while Margaret Roche presented on Amelia White (later Sr. Mary Teresa White). Amelia was the 18th Sister to enter Baggot Street on 2nd May 1833. Notes on Margaret's input, drawn from her research into the letters written by Catherine, can be found here.
A copy of the Suscipe rests on her prie-dieu. The crucifix given to her by her friend Fr. Armstrong is clearly visible. The painting on the wall 'Our Lady of Divine Grace' was a gift from Dr Michael Blake.
Catherine's bed jacket and coif can be seen in the corner cabinet.
The presentation by Mary Reynolds rsm on Ursula Frayne and Vincent Whitty took place in Catherine's Room, originally the small infirmary and the room where Catherine died. Ursula had nursed Catherine in her last illness and Vincent wrote the account of Catherine's death. The artefacts in this room themselves tell a great deal about Catherine's spirituality and witness to her commitment. It was with some of these items - the crucifix, desk and letters- that Mary commenced her talk.
In her presentation Mary spoke of Ursula's and Vincent's life stories and their call to Mercy. She considered their formation in Mercy and how the charism grew through the foundations they made. From speaking of their relationships with Catherine and her recognition of their talents, Mary then addressed Catherine's leadership and the characteristics of Mercy leadership today.
In the '25 years of Mercy Global Action' session, Suzanne Ryder rsm, who was one of the three members of the core group who established the Mercy International Justice Network (MIJN) in 1996 -the other members were Dale Jarvis rsm and Wendy Flannery rsm- traced the history and outlined the story of the Network. Angela Reed rsm, Mercy Global Action Coordinator, and Siobhan Golden, one of the ten women participating in the inaugural MIA-MGA Emerging Leaders Fellowship programme, added additional remarks. Sr Angela shared her desire for the MIJN story to be documented. Sisters present at the sessions who had been part of the growth of MIJN shared their experiences and memories.
Anne Walsh, Mercy eNews Editor and Mercyworld.org website Administrator, gave an overview of the Mercyworld.org website which is a living archive of the ongoing Mercy story. First online in 1998 and redeveloped since, most recently twelve months ago, the website today contains 15,510 assets (pdfs, images, videos etc) and tells 7,557 Mercy stories. Mercyworld.org is Catherine's second home and the 'digital doorway' ínto Baggot Street and beyond.
After a brief look into various 'rooms'(sections), Anne focussed on the Mercy Global Presence microsite and the treasures to be held there when we launch the process on 29 September, Catherine's birthday.
The Silver Jubilee Celebrations concluded with a closing ritual in the chapel at which water from the Rill was distributed to all present.
'May the spirit of Mercy flow on us as we each strive to bring about the globalisation of compassion.'