August 05, 2014

Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage - Participant's Diary: Molly Onufer

Today I went to my first workshop and our group hit the ground running with an exciting perspective on the spirit of Catherine McAuley informing the efforts of Mercy at the United Nations. The workshop was led by Áine O’Connor who is the Mercy Global Action Coordinator at the UN in New York City.

Why do we have a Mercy representative at the UN? Well, with the Mercy community present in 40+ nations around the world, we get the ‘on-the-ground’ perspective of what’s happening and a better understanding of the ‘root causes’ of topics the UN addresses such as poverty.


During the keynote about Catherine’s Story, Mary Reynolds rsm added the insight that Catherine McAuley had a sort of subversive approach to problem-solving when it came to politics and social issues. That is, as Sr Áine explained later in the workshop, issues such as poverty bothered Catherine, but what kept her up at night was to figure out what were causing them. (First day of the pilgrimage and the presentations are already inter-linking!) For Mercy at the UN – and I might go further and say the Mercy mission in general – this is the continuing idea we strive for. Mercy is looking to find space in the overall global policy for the voices of our experiences ‘on-the-ground’. Another way Áine put it was that we recognise peoples’ wholeness and well-being and bring their voices to the table, where policies may not have been considering those voices.

The workshop wrapped up by going through what Áine called the '5 Why’s of Mercy'. It’s a model that helps us to work through the common narrative – what we see on the internet, what we hear on the news, how we think we know an issue – and continuing to ask ‘Why’ to the problems until we work through closer to the root cause of the problem.

This sparked a great group exercise asking the 5 Why’s to three of Mercy’s priority issues at the UN: poverty, human trafficking and extractive industries/mining. Through this method, we look past the tip of the iceberg so that we can reach and address the deeper causes of the issues in our world. This method is not only applicable at the UN, but Aine pointed out that this method of questioning to better understand is applicable in all of our group’s varying fields of study and expertise. It’s a way to remind us to question and commit ourselves to the spirit of Mercy in helping give those without voice a seat at the table.

Messages to: Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm

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