June 07, 2005

Sisters of Mercy Gather to Plan Future (Americas)

(Silver Spring, MD) – In this time of transition for the Catholic Church, over 300 members of the largest congregation of Roman Catholic sisters in the United States will gather at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, from June 20-30 to elect new leadership and determine how they can best respond to changing needs of the world.

At this meeting, called a Chapter by religious communities, Sisters of Mercy from North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines will probe questions of identity, governance, new membership, forms of commitment and sponsorship of institutions. They will make crucial decisions as part of a multi-year planning process involving 4,630 sisters, 2,615 lay associates, and thousands of co-workers in reconfiguring the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

The sisters arrive at this Chapter as the 25 regional communities which make up the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas work to consolidate into six Areas to better focus their lives and their mission. Through this process, the sisters are developing strategies for combining and using their resources to better serve persons suffering from poverty, lack of education, and insufficient health care by advocating for just and sustainable development throughout the world, and enhancing relationships among diverse cultures and countries. Sisters of Mercy have always adapted to changing realities, identifying and focusing their ministries where there are unmet needs.

The Institute Chapter, when in session, is the highest authority in the Institute. In addition to electing the Institute president and leadership team, the sisters will develop interim legislation which will lead to changes in their Constitutions, a document by which religious congregations govern themselves.

Deirdre Mullan, RSM, a Sister of Mercy from Northern Ireland and Director of Mercy Global Concern at the United Nations, will provide the keynote address about the impact of globalization on every country that is part of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

The sisters deliberately chose Laredo, a city on the border between Texas and Mexico, where their Institute novitiate is located. Outgoing President Sister Marie Chin explains, “We want to intentionally walk into our lives and bring consonance between our words and our deeds.” By coming to the border, to the edge of the economic, cultural, political and religious realities in our world, the sisters hope to put themselves in different and unfamiliar surroundings. One way they will do this is by visiting local colonias, or neighborhoods, on June 24 to listen to and learn from women whose lives are limited in so many ways by the economic and social structures that are seldom skewed in their favor.

ABOUT THE SISTERS OF MERCY OF THE AMERICAS: The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas is an international community of sisters vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and ignorance, with a special concern for women and children. In innovative and traditional ways, Sisters of Mercy address human needs through collaborative efforts in education, health care, housing, and pastoral and social services. Among Sisters of Mercy one can find doctors, lawyers and paralegals, theologians, immigrant advocates, missionaries, justice advocates and peace activists, prisoners of conscience, and foster mothers. The Institute includes 25 regional communities with 4,630 members and 2,615 associates who serve in North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines.

Contact: Anne Boyle

June 7, 2005 (301) 587-0423 (before June 19; after June 30)
(202) 306-0017 (between June 19-30)
Fax: (301) 587-0533


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