March 26, 2014

The Legacy, Challenge and Ministry of Mercy: Visit by Mary Reynolds rsm to Australia

During the month of March Mary Reynolds rsm, Executive Director MIA, is visiting Australia, a trip sponsored by Mercy Partners.

Sr Mary has been meeting and speaking with Sisters and Partners-in-ministry in Queensland (Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Brisbane), in Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney.Participants were invited to share their reflections


          Leesa Jeffcoat, Chairman, Board of Directors, Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited  introducing     Mary Reynolds rsm

Reflections from Mary Reynolds' rsm presentation to personnel from Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited- Rockhampton, 6-7 March

I found the presentation by Sr Mary to be very meaningful. Sr Mary is a captivating speaker whom I very much enjoyed hearing from. The content of the presentation was very relevant to us at Mercy Health & Aged Care and I felt it re-energised us towards the importance of our mission. I think it was a day enjoyed by all.
Jenna Carlos
Human Resources Coordinator
Mercy Health and Aged Care
Central Queensland Limited


Good reminders of what we are here to do
Confirmed our duty to focus on service to the poor, a more challenging aspect of our mission as a private health and care provider
Excellent slide on leadership – The Tree and good leadership talk to support same
An exhortation to humility in the face of great achievements by the sisters as they drove the mission against great adversity.
Peter Comerford
Executive Officer
Rockhampton Mater


During 2013 I was afforded the great privilege of participating in a Pilgrimage to Dublin to walk in the footsteps of Catherine McAuley. This was indeed the experience of a lifetime and an affirmation of the esteem in which I have held the Sisters of Mercy for all of my adult life. All of the facilitators in Dublin were inspirational and sent us back with renewed vigour to continue the work of Catherine and the early Sisters in our modern day ministries. My only regret was that many more of my colleagues could not be exposed to the experience. On Friday 7th March I was again fortunate to be included in the group who attended a presentation by Sr Mary Reynolds rsm Executive Director of Mercy International Association. On this occasion the room was filled with local “Mercy people” and Mary’s messages of “Catherine and the Ministry of Health Care” and “Shapers of the Dream” reached and inspired so many more and fostered in us the sense of responsibility and trust that has been placed in us to collaborate with the other members of the Mercy Global family to meet the needs of today. Thank you to Mary for issuing the challenge and to all involved in bringing this passionate lady to our shores.
Lesley Schneider
Executive Director /Director of Nursing
Mercy Aged Care Services


I found the presentation by Sr Mary very interesting and well delivered. The history of the Sisters of Mercy and in particular Catherine McAuley's life during those days in Ireland is inspirational and made relevant by Mary through her transition to the current focus of Mercy International throughout the world.
Jeff Carlos
Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited


Personally, I found the morning to be quite inspiring. I found that both presentations given by Sr Mary Reynolds to be very timely and appropriate, putting into words what I sometimes struggle to articulate and that is “what makes us different”. In our everyday working life I would say that what makes us different is the care that we provide, but it is much more than that, it is more fundamental, it is who we are that is the underpinning core value that makes our care what it is, essentially we are…. Mercy…and the tree was a great descriptor of this simple message.
Sandy Moore
Executive Officer
Mater Hospital Mackay


I had the privilege of meeting Sr Mary when I did the Mercy Leadership Pilgrimage to Dublin a couple of years ago and it was truly a life changing experience. During that Pilgrimage, I had the good fortune of hearing a presentation from Sr Mary on the topic “Reflection of a Mercy Leader” and the thoughts that St Mary shared with us on that occasion have been a source of guidance and wisdom for me as a leader in a Mercy ministry ever since.

Sr Mary’s presentation today was gentle, inspiring and life giving. I am sure after hearing Sr Mary, we felt revitalized with a renewed sense of commitment and enthusiasm to assisting those in need today just as Catherine McAuley did for the people of Dublin in the 1800s.
Leesa Jeffcoat
Chairman, Board of Directors
Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited


         Sr Mary presenting to the group


I found the presentation by Mary to be quite inspiring and despite the many opportunities I have had over the years to hear speakers reflect on Catherine McAuley, I must admit I came away from Mary’s presentation feeling I had gained many new insights into Catherine’s life and her amazing work for the poor and sick of Dublin.

I found of particular interest the involvement that Catherine had with the ministry of health care throughout her life – something I had not been as keenly aware of until Mary’s presentation. Not long after Mary’s presentation, I had to talk to school children about the Catherine story and I found that Mary’s words were of tremendous assistance to me.
Marie Duffy rsm
Executive Officer Mission Integration
Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited



I thoroughly enjoyed Sr Mary’s presentation and it was very interesting to hear Sr Mary focus on the close association that Catherine McAuley had with the ministry of healthcare throughout her life.

Sr Mary reaffirmed to everyone at the presentation that each one of us are an integral part of the ongoing Mercy story and as people working in Mercy ministry we are called to be expressions of Mercy in the world today.

Sr Mary encouraged us to be revitalized in our ministry work and as I went back to my place of work, I certainly felt “revitalized” and with a renewed passion to do whatever I can to assist Mercy Health and Aged Care to best serve the sick and the aged in our various communities.
Phillip Bauman
Company and Board Secretary
Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited



   l-r: Fr John Grace, Diocesan Administrator, Leesa Jeffcoat, Board Chairman of Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited, Sr Mary Reynolds and Ian Mill, CEO of Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited


Rockhampton Session with Sisters

On Thursday 6 March, 35 Sisters of Mercy gathered in Stoneleigh Function Room, The Range, Rockhampton to join Mary Reynolds for her Presentations on ‘Shapers of the Dream’ and ‘The Mercy International Association’.

Denise Hinton rsm gave the following vote of thanks:

'Mary, thank you. Two small words which seem so inadequate for your presentation to us today. I stand in awe of your great love, knowledge and passion for Catherine.
It never ceases to amaze me how much we get to know Catherine at a deeper level when we have gatherings such as today. While Coordinator of Mission & Pastoral Care at the Mackay Mater and presenting Orientation Sessions to new staff each month or six weeks, I showed the DVD of The Circle of Mercy & I was amazed each time of just how much more I learnt of Catherine.
Thanks for gently reminding us of the need for a mix of Contemplation and Action and for challenging us to be the Catherine's of today. I found your explanation of the word "ignorance" used by Catherine as a political weapon very informative.
We are called to be like Catherine who animated many to walk with her and to break through the impossibilities of their time.
Thanks for bringing before us the challenges of our day:
Culture of Consumerism
Culture of Busyness
and the influence of Technology

You have given us much food for thought to contemplate.
I loved the image you shared in one of your slides of the hands cupped inside each other and thumbs meeting reminding us of the necessity of Mindfulness in all that we do.
Sharing Mary Oliver's poem "The Journey" encouraging us to listen to the new voice which we slowly recognize as our own instead of those outside voices and to be determined to save the only life we can save.
Your sharing of the new coined word "Mercying" used by Pope Francis is a word you encouraged us to use that helps us to express our Charism.
The final 3 areas you referred to today
Ecological Devastation
Exploitation of Women -Trafficking
And the Displacement of People
clearly remind us today where we are being called to put our energies as Catherine would have if she was here today.

May each of us leave here today to face and take up the challenges put before us.

Mary we are very grateful to you for visiting us again in Rockhampton.
On behalf of us all thanks for a wonderful presentation, for sharing your scholarship with us and for helping us to come to know Catherine a little more.
Please join in thanking Mary.'



Mercy Formation Day, 10 March - Townsville

About 60 people attended the Mercy Formation day at the Mater Conference centre, on Monday, 10 March. Among those present were representatives’ from St Patrick's College, Villa Retirement Village, Sisters and staff from ISMAPNG, Board, Executive and Mangers of Mater Health Services North Queensland (MHSNQ).


Introducing Sr Mary - Sr Ros Carr

It is my very great pleasure to introduce to you Sr Mary Reynolds, the Executive Director of the Mercy International Association.

When you visit Baggot Street,-the home of Mercy International and Catherine McAuley’s original House of Mercy in Dublin, - Mary’s face is one of the first to welcome you and to make you feel that Catherine’s home is indeed your home too.

The Mercy International Association includes as its members the world-wide Mercy family of Sisters, Associates and Co-workers - and Mary’s role is to provide leadership to the group (with the help of her team)- in helping the Association achieve its aim. That aim is to facilitate collaboration among the members of the Association in meeting need and working for justice throughout the world. The purpose of the Association is to nurture and promote the Mercy charism, and to foster that unity of mind and heart so beloved by Catherine, among the members of our Mercy network as we reach new understandings of our global interdependence.

For those who know their Irish geography Mary is originally from County Leitrim up in the north on the border with the six northern counties. She has played a significant role in the ministry of Catholic education in Ireland, in a variety of roles from teaching and administration to management and trusteeship. She has also served in Congregational Leadership and began her role as Director in March 2009 (5 years this month).

Mary is a noted speaker on Catherine McAuley and Catherine’s message for us and our world today - and having had the privilege of listening to Mary before I can tell you that I found her an inspiring presenter. She is here in Australia now, at the invitation of ISMAPNG and Mercy Partners.
So would you join with me in warmly welcoming…Sr Mary Reynolds

l-r: Geraldine O’Brien, Srs Mary Reynolds
and Ros Carr
l-r: Srs Marie Melville and Mary Reynolds


I found Sr Mary’s talk inspiring and interesting for a number of reasons, not the least being her delightful Irish lilt. Coming from Catherine’s own homeland, Sr Mary’s accent made her words about Catherine, all the more authentic for me.
Sr Mary brought to life Catherine’s social, political, religious and familial context. Through her manner of presentation she made me feel great empathy and sympathy for the plight of the women Catherine sought to raise out of their seemingly hopeless, life situations.
Sr Mary’s knowledge of the how, what, where and why of the plight of Irish Catholics, and women especially, during Catherine’s early Ministry, was delivered in such a way as to present the injustices that occurred while not playing any ‘blame game’, I felt.
Each person who speaks about Catherine gives their own insights and this was true in Sr Mary’s case. She took us from one individual’s dream and action of helping those in need, to the current world wide structure of the Sisters of Mercy and their presence in 47 countries across the world. Sr Mary’s use of the phrase “the energy for compassion” resonated strongly with me; and the way she spoke about ‘gratitude vs entitlement’.
I feel I have received a very special gift through my involvement with the Sisters of Mercy, and in knowing that I am part of a world-wide family of Mercy.
Geraldine O’Brien


MHSNQ was indeed privileged to receive Sr Mary Reynolds Executive Director of Mercy International as host to facilitate this day.

Sr Mary very quickly engaged her listeners and held their attention as she broke open the foundational story of Catherine McAuley bringing it alive and relevant to us today.
I appreciated the way Sr Mary spoke of the motivation and spirit that Catherine McAuley worked out of. She highlighted her compassion and total care for the sick, to make sure the sick were not only nursed but were clean and comfortable. Compassion being the quality of Christ's presence to the other. Today we refer to this as holistic care.

Catherine McAuley was not just another “do gooder”, she worked hard to change attitudes. She was about "making connections" and changing society. She cared for the poor by creating an environment where they could come and experience mercy by the way they were cared for. This challenges us to reflect how we use "who we are" as people to make connections that help influence our society, and be active voices for Justice.

Her second session "Shapers of the Dream" was sadly cut short through lack of time. However I was left with a sense of gratitude and enthusiasm and felt privileged to be a member of the ongoing network of mercy associates entrusted to help make the charism of mercy a reality today. The charism of mercy which is gift given by the Spirit, is God's mission for the renewal and building of the church today. Sr Mary quoted “Something new is happening to the charism of Mercy, and that "new" is exactly like Catherine McAuley would have liked it”. Mercy is indeed now our Heritage and our Responsibility.
Trudy Clarke

Director of Mission
Mater Health Services North Queensland.


Just an observation from Sr Mary’s presentation about Catherine McAuley was when she mentioned that Catherine’s first priority when treating patients was firstly to attend to their hygiene and ensure they had clean bed line. This I believe is one thing that has been lost in modern nursing. Our nursing is now more about technology than basic comfort and compassion. Also the fact that she had the ability to identify with people through her own experiences and taking the time to listen to people she was able to help people by going to the root of their problems. She was an amazing person who achieved a great deal in her life time.
Delys Dunbar
Quality & Risk Manager
Mater Health Services


I found the presentation by Sr Mary Reynolds on Catherine and the Ministry of Mercy was edge of my seat spellbinding! Mary was able to put the audience into the era Catherine lived in, it was if we could see and feel what it was like for Catherine from her early childhood but especially during her mission. I left feeling that I had actually been with Catherine during those early years of mission. I found the tree diagram enlightening. It aptly illustrated how a healthy organisation, even family, should look in order to function in the world today. We are all bombarded with pollutants and distractions, we need to remember to ensure all parts of our tree and cared for and having strong healthy roots founded in the tradition and values of the Catholic Church goes a long way to ensure the health and longevity of the whole tree. I am very thankful for the opportunity to hear Sr Mary’s presentation, it was informative and thought provoking.
Anna Ardill
PA to Sr Bev Strong rsm
Northern Community Leader
Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea


        &; Staff from Mater Health 
          Front row: l-rt: Edith Brodie, Sr Mary, Lynn Roos, Delys Dunbar,
          2nd row : l-r: Gillian McBride, Jeff Ames, Trudy Clarke, Denice Gleeson,Raymond Thaine,
          Sandy Stewart, Karen Gerrard



Cairns Teachers Gathering, 12 March

Within an hour of arriving in Cairns, Mary was busy preparing a presentation, ‘Catholic Education – Learning from Catherine the Educator’ which she shared with a group of about 75 teachers who gathered at St. Mary’s College. Catherine’s value of, and vision for, a mercy inspired Education had obvious implications for all who attended – even those who work in schools with no historical Mercy connection.


          Cairns Teachers gathered in St Mary's Hall

Presentation by Mary Reynolds rsm to members of the wider Mercy Network in Cairns, 13 March evening Session

It was a delight to hear Mary share about the historical context of Catherine and how it fashioned her passion and compassion. Mary’s presentation was both personal and informative and had the essence of one who was there – understandable given her Irish belonging! I was particularly struck by Mary’s emphasis on Catherine’s quote,
'What the poor prize most is the kind word, the compassionate look and the patient hearing of sorrows” and its implications for everyone.'


Front: l-r: Srs. Therese Masterson, Mary Reynolds, Ian Pendergast
Back Row: Sr. Felicitis , Sr. Matthia (both Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters from the aged care facility, “Holy Spirit Westcourt, Cairns”), Paul O’Connor

Mary assured us that despite the depleting numbers and capacity of the Sisters of Mercy around the world (around 8,000 now, compared to 22,000 in the heydays) there is an obvious and understandable optimism that arises from the estimated half a million people who work in mercy ministries, including health, aged care, education and welfare. She encouraged us to recognise the vocation aspect of the ministry in which we are involved, to nurture the charism in our own spirituality, to proclaim it in our mission and value statements and most especially to embody it in our service of people to whom we minister.


         13 March evening Session for Mercy Networks in Cairns


Presentation by Mary Reynolds rsm with the Sisters at Earlville - Cairns

Seventeen Sisters gathered with Sister Mary Reynolds at Seville Mercy Conference Centre, Earlville, on the morning of 13 March, 2014.

At the outset, Mary recalled her first visit to Cairns in 2009, where she found the Sisters embracing with joy the prospect of continuing their Mercy Ministry with lay partners.

Mary began her presentation entitled,“Shapers of the Dream” with Sister Clare Augustine Moore’s image of Catherine which set the scene for Mary’s reflections. These included:

  • God’s Mercy is from age to age (and we are the carriers of this message)
  • Charism, a gift given for the building up and renewal of the Church. Under Pope Francis, the church is moving into a time of mercy and compassion.
  • Catherine, a lay woman prepared to go against her own desires in order to found a religious congregation to carry on the charism.

Mary went on to say that we are now in a period of Revitalization – not of ourselves but of the charism, through the participation of lay partners.

After morning tea Mary spoke of Mercy International Association and in the process furthered our understanding of it as offering new global possibilities for Mercy in the 21st Century.


Back: L-r - Srs Mary-Ann Lennon, Irene Masterson, Anne Moule, Brigid Foley, Mary Reynolds, Bridget Murray, Katherine Coyne, Therese Masterson, Pam Murray, Pam Bourke, Christina Randle, Mairead Murray.
Front: L-r - Srs Rovena Duffy, Rita O’Malley, Patsy Butterfield, Mary McHugh, Pat O’Shea, Marie Masterson


Morning Tea with Mary Reynolds rsm and the Sisters at Coral Sea Gardens - Cairns

Immediately prior to her leaving Cairns to travel to Brisbane on 14 March 2014, Mary attended the Morning Tea at Coral Sea Gardens where the sisters of the Cairns and Tableland areas gather each Friday for morning tea, a ‘Sharing of Stories’ and news of the week. We believe, as Catherine did, there is more to it than just the ‘Cup of Tea’.

l-r: Srs Mary Reynolds, Pat O’Shea, Doreen O’Meara and Rita O’Malleyl-r: Mairead, Pam, Mary of Mercy, Christina Randle and Anne Moule

Mary had the opportunity to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with the Sisters and the celebration of Sister Patricia Butterfield’s Birthday which Sister Patricia celebrates on St Patrick’s Day. Sister Christina prepared the table, food and decorations, together with the cake or ‘cup cakes’, topped with a sparkler, on a decorative stand. There was lots of laughter and stories shared. Some of the Sisters know the same people of Ireland that Mary knows so there was much ‘catching up’ on news from Ireland.

The Sisters of Cairns and the Tableland are very grateful for Mary’s visit which was informative and a means by which we were able rekindle the fire of our Mercy commitment to mission and look to the future with hope.

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