August 07, 2014

Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage - Participant's Diary: Ruth Kilcullen

Young Mercy Leaders' Pilgrimage -
A Participant's Diary

Ruth Kilcullen

Life Discernment 101 - Sue Weetenkamp rsm

“Tell me what you want to do with your one wild and precious life?” This insightful question goes straight to the heart of our workshop on life discernment, which was facilitated by Sue Weetenkamp rsm.

For a group of young people, made up largely of university students, this kind of question naturally rises to the surface regularly as we look forward and consider the major choices we have to make about our futures. The ideas Sr Sue presented us with, however, extend well beyond these early years, challenging us to ask ourselves difficult and important questions about the decisions we make throughout our lives.

Three key questions, as outlined by Rev. Michael Himes, lie at the centre of this discernment process. Is what you’re doing a source of joy? Does it tap into your talents and abilities and use them in the fullest possible way? Is this role a genuine service to the people around you?

We watched a video presentation by Rev. Michael Himes about these three key questions, and then the floor was opened up for discussion. What emerged were some very interesting and honest contributions from our group members about where we find real joy. We realised that many of us sought careers in fields where we felt we could be of genuine service to our communities and societies. The notion of dissatisfaction as a positive thing in our lives – as something that propels us forward and urges us to seek new challenges – was an element of Rev. Himes’ presentation that struck a chord for many of us.

The workshop provided all of us with plenty of food for thought. Possibly the most problematic element of the Three Key Questions approach to life discernment is in accepting that a certain path isn’t right for you. We have to be really honest with ourselves when it comes to whether or not we are right for a particular role, and we have to have the humility to listen to others; sometimes we’re not the best judge of our own talents and abilities! That being said, nobody else can tell you where you find joy. That is a decision we all must make ourselves. We can seek guidance from those who love us but, ultimately, we each have to make up our own minds when it comes to the big decisions in our lives.

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In Her Words: Catherine and Her Spirituality - Micheal O'Sullivan

The letters of Catherine McCauley 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

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