July 30, 2011

Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy Inaugural Programme

At the Mercy International Centre, 24 Sisters of Mercy from around the world gathered for the inaugural month long program Watering the Roots at the Wellspring of Mercy. Each week was led by a different presenter, 3 of whom are Sisters of Mercy.

Maria Cimperman, an American Ursuline, challenged us to respond to the Biblical invitation:
Behold I am creating something new; can you not perceive it? Religious Life in the 21st Century.
We asked ourselves the question what is this new thing in religious life in the 21st century in terms of our call as Mercy women.  This was an opportunity for us to delve more deeply into the universal call to religious for a more integrated spirituality balancing the contemplative with action as Catherine McAuley did so effectively in her life.  We were urged to let go and let come and we carried this inspiration with us into the second week .

Noel Keller, an American Mercy, led the second theme:
God’s gracious and compassionate Mercy is the wellspring: a focus on Mercy in the Gospel of Luke.
Noel, with infectious energy and scholarship gave us new insights into reading Luke’s Gospel by going behind the words and looking at the context in which the story took place to encourage and reinvigorate the faith of his community.  We saw with different eyes and understood in a new way the significant players in his Gospel.  We were reminded that Acts and Luke are two parts of one whole.

In week 3, Brenda Dolphin, an Irish Mercy and Postulator for the Cause of Catherine McAuley’s canonisation led the theme
Woman of God.  Woman for God’s People: Unfolding Catherine’s Story and its Implications for Mercy Life Today.

In hearing the story of Catherine we were led on a journey that opened new windows for us into the life of Catherine, her call to Mercy and her inspiring of others to go with her on the journey.  In considering her words, her work and the intimate relationship with God, the One who was the driving force throughout her life and in whom she placed all her trust we gained an insight into her holiness which was based on her passionate love of the crucified Christ and the poor.  As Sisters of Mercy we were significantly urged to promote Catherine’s canonisation by taking every opportunity to speak of her inspiration in reality of the way she lived her life.

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The final series of presentations were from Adele Howard, an Australian Mercy on Living and Telling the Mercy Story: Continuing the Mission of Mercy in Response to the Needs of the World. These opened up for us the possibilities inherent in today’s technology to enable us to more effectively sharpen the lens of the Mercy mission in our contemporary world. 

The potential of the rebuilt website mercyworld.org showed us how we can open up the Mercy story to the wider world and enable us to communicate more effectively with each other through web.  The amazing potential for the variety of possibilities within the interactive and social media filled us with new hope, enthusiasm and energy for an extension of mercy around the world.

Through a process of theological reflection we engaged with issues of local and global concern that took us on a journey of social transformation and spiritual depth.  We began to look with our eyes, listen with our ears, understand with our hearts as we responded to the word of God being spoken in these new ways through scripture, poetry, Catherine’s words, the web and the vision statement of the Mercy International Association.

One of the rich outcomes of the month was a new recognition that we are an international group of vowed women dedicated and united through our commitment to the works of Mercy.  The Mercy International Association with its vision and its capacity to connect us will assist us in sustaining this focus and sharing it with the global community.

A report written by the participants in the programme

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