Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage -Presentation by Micheal O'Sullivan
In Her Words: Catherine and Her Spirituality - Micheal O'Sullivan
The letters of Catherine McAuley offer an invaluable insight into the heart and mind of this remarkable woman. This afternoon’s workshop, entitled In Her Words: Catherine and Her Spirituality, provided the young Mercy pilgrims the opportunity to explore some of Catherine’s writings and discover more about her everyday life and her relationships with those around her.
Micheal O’Sullivan, a Mercy Associate from Australia, facilitated a thought-provoking and engaging session centred on the correspondence of Catherine. The woman who is revealed through these letters is fascinating and deeply impressive; an extraordinary character. The value of this primary source from Catherine’s own hand lies not only in what it reveals about the woman, but also about the world she lived in. For Catherine to have acted as she did, as a woman, in the Dublin of the early 19th century, was truly revolutionary. She was a visionary who was able to transcend the confines of her own personal world. She could see the failings of the wider system and was compelled by her faith to right them, something extraordinary for a woman of means and position in a highly classist society.
The person revealed through her letters is a joyful, playful woman who delighted in the company of others. We also see a pragmatic fixer, a problem-solver who found a way around the obstacles she encountered. Her diligence and work ethic are evident in her reminder to one sister that “there are 15 hours between six and nine” – plenty of time to get things done as long as every unforgiving minute is filled with sixty seconds worth of distance run.
In our relatively short time considering and discussing some of her letters today, it became apparent that this was a woman whose profound devotion to accompanying and uplifting the most vulnerable was fundamental to her nature. The workshop was a really enriching opportunity to reflect further on the woman Catherine was, and the many ways we can still relate to her and her spirituality.
Messages to: Mary Kay Dobrovolny rsm