May 12, 2005

The Return of Catherine’s Letters

A dream first expressed when archivists from Mercy congregations around the world gathered at Mercy International Centre in November 2003 is becoming a reality. Speaker Sister Edel Bannon (formerly of the central leadership team for the Irish Institute) reflected on the work being done to identify and locate personal items and letters belonging to Catherine McAuley and now spread throughout the Mercy world.

In the course of these reflections, Edel revealed a personal dream. She said, “Now that there is a state-of-the- art heritage centre here in Catherine’s own house, it seems to me that all these precious items belonging to Catherine rightly belong in her own house. Here they belong to every Sister of Mercy equally and can be viewed by sisters from all around the world.”

The Institute Leadership Team reflected on these words and made a decision which will begin the fulfillment of this dream. This summer our Institute will return to Catherine’s house on Baggot Street the 62 original letters of Catherine McAuley which are currently held in the Institute archives. The ILT has also invited the six regional communities who are custodians of letters of Catherine to join in this return.

Several moments of ritual will accompany this gesture. In the spring, sisters who live and minister in the Silver Spring area will be invited to come to the Institute office for an evening of prayer with the letters. In June, they will be carried to Laredo where this same opportunity will be available for those attending the Chapter. During the Chapter, a formal ritual will take place in which a representative of the Mercy International Association will be present to receive the letters for return to Catherine’s house.

The ILT will encourage the return of all the primary materials related to Catherine. The ILT hopes all will be housed in one location where each Sister of Mercy in the world will have equal access and a common sense of ownership.

Author: Sheila Carney rsm
Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Contact: Anne Boyle Director of Communications

Reprinted with permission from VITA, the monthly newsletter for Members and Associates of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, March 2005 (vol. 14, no3).

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