July 31, 2018

The Pilgrimage for aged 18+ Young Mercy Leaders Has Begun!

Editor: 47 Young Mercy Leaders,10 Chaperones, 29 MIA staff, volunteers and presenters are gathered this week at Baggot Street for the fourth biannual aged 18+ Young Mercy Leaders (YML) pilgrimage with its theme 'Mercy begins with me'. The pilgrims are from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.Some pilgrims are completing secondary school, others are university graduates, many are undergraduates, some are in employment. It's a great mix!

The pilgrimage for those aged 18+is now held every alternate year (2011, 2014, 2016, 2018)

Each pilgrim received a personalised pack containing the essentials for their days at Baggot Street: Name badge, Pen, Notebook, Tour card, MercyeNews bookmark, Mercy wristband, T-Shirt, Canonisation prayer card, Programme outline and important information.

As an organisation committed to addressing degradation of Earth, one of our two MIRP themes, MIA is conscious of fulfilling our own social responsibility. Rather than exploring ideas about ecological responsibility in a keynote or workshop, we chose to act sustainably: the pilgrim bags are made from non-woven polypropylene which is a recyclable material, the pens are made from recycled plastic and pilgrims have been asked to bring their own water bottle which they will refill from water stations. The conference T-shirts are made from organic cotton, fairtrade certified and climate neutral, meaning the manufacturing is done using renewable energy from solar and wind sources.

Most activities over the four days will take place at Mercy International Centre (MIC), with Thursday evening's dinner and Céilí to be in the hall at Catherine McAuley National School (Scoil Chaitríona), our neighbour at number 59 Baggot Street and the walking experience of Catherine's Dublin on Wednesday.

Representation at YML Pilgrimage

The pilgrims are from Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States from places including:

Morning programme

Arrival and Registration

Registration commenced at 9:00am and for the next hour the hallway became a bustling thoroughfare as pilgrims registered and collected their packs.

Welcome and Opening Ritual

At 10.00 the pilgrims gathered in the Chapel where they were welcomed by Mary Reynolds rsm, CEO of Mercy International Association. Sr Mary welcomed the pilgrims with a 'Céad míle fáilte '(100,000 welcomes) and an Irish blessing 'Dia dhuit' (God be with you). She then invited them to respond in Irish 'Dia is Mhuire dhuit' (God and Mary be with you). She encouraged them to participate wholeheartedly in the pilgrimage experience which she defined as 'a journey undertaken in light of a story'. Our shared story, she reminded us, is our Mercy story. 'Only when we each bring ourselves on the journey will we be able to create the circle of Mercy'.

The Welcome was followed by an Opening Ritual. Download the PDF.

Our gifted Mercy musicians, all members of The Congregation, Marie Cox rsm (Northern Province), Patricia O'Donovan rsm (CLT) and Frances Kennedy rsm (Southern Province) played and led the singing which they shall do all week.

Opening Process

Following the ritual, the pilgrims gathered in the International Room where Colleen Cloonan who attended the YML pilgrimage in 2014 while a student at Salve Regina University and who is now the Women's Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate at MIA-MGA at the UN and the conference facilitator, led them in an ice-breaking activitiy to help build a group from those who had travelled here 'from north, south, east and west'.

Colleen shared generously from her personal journey as a questioning undergraduate, of her commitment to Mercy that led her to apply to become an intern in the MIA-MGA Office at the UN, and of her work at the Office. She talked about Catherine McAuley and the situation in Ireland when Catherine founded the Order, of the two themes that arose from MIRP -— Degradation of Earth and Displacement of Persons— , themes which underpin the work of MIA-MGA and which all Mercy people are called to address.

Her Session concluded with an exercise designed to show how we are all connected.

This session was followed by lunch in the dining room as the gorgeous Summer weather that had been experienced for weeks, had turned drizzly and cool.

Afternoon programme

Some of Catherine's Women Today: L-r: Anna Nicholls rsm, Emma Horgan, Mary Neven rsm, Mary Reynolds rsm, Margaret Roche (at back), Sheila Carney rsm

Tour of the House and an Opportunity to 'meet' some of the early Mercy women

This afternoon provided the opportunity for pilgrims to take a guided tour of the Centre in small groups and learn about the history, architecture, features and functions of MIC. Each pilgrim had a 'passport' - a fold- out brochure with an image of each of the main spaces in the house. As students visited each of these spaces they collected a stamp.

Pilgrims moved through the house in 6 small groups, visiting various spaces where they 'encountered' a number of the early Mercy women:
International Room - Georgiana/Mary Clare Moore (presented by Anna Nicholls rsm, MIA)
Callaghan Room - Amelia (Mary Teresa) White (presented by Margaret Roche, MIA)
Chapel - Frances Warde (presented by Sheila Carney rsm, Americas)
Catherine’s Room - Ursula Frayne (presented by Mary Reynolds rsm, MIA)
Doyle Room - Anna Maria (Mary Ann) Doyle (presented by Emma Hogan,  MIA)
Heritage - Elizabeth Moore (presented by Mary Neven rsm, ANZ)

This tour of Catherine's House, the first House of Mercy, is the perfect backdrop for walking in the footsteps of Catherine McAuley, visiting many of the landmarks of importance in the life of Catherine and the early Sisters of Mercy. That will occur tomorrow, but with a difference, as you shall read!

Afternoon Tea was followed by a Reflection Activity, providing pilgrims with the opportunity to review the day and what it meant for them.

The day concluded with Evening Prayer which included the singing of 'Be God's [Mercy]', which has become a pilgrimage favourite over recent years.

The day's programmme concluded at 6pm after Evening prayer. It is a 'free' evening, an opportunity for pilgrims to explore Dublin.

It has been a very full and worthwhile day and a great start to the week.

Read the report on Day Two here

The programme runs until Friday night. You are invited to follow online the life and energy of these days with our daily updates on the mercyworld.org website, on Facebook @mercyinternationalassociation and on Twitter using the hashtags @mercyworldwide and #YML2018.

Messages to: YML Communications Team: Elizabeth McNamee rsm and Anne Walsh

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