Sisters of Mercy
Maintaining our mercy values and heritage is paramount in identifying who we are as a College community. Equally, we ensure we make and maintain as many links as possible with the present Sisters of Mercy as possible.
In the past week, there have been two very special events.
On Thursday 6 August, fifteen of our staff members attended a talk at Mercedes College by Sister Mary Reynolds, visiting from Ireland. Mary Reynolds is the Executive Director of the Mercy International Association. In this capacity, Mary leads, integrates, develops and manages the Mercy International Association in accordance with the MIA vision.
Mercy International Association is an international faith-oriented organisation of Sisters of Mercy serving in forty-seven countries worldwide and committed to those who suffer from poverty and other forms of disadvantage, especially women and children.
Mary worked for many years in the forefront of education ministry. She taught 12-18 year old students in a variety of schools and served for a number of these in the role of Principal. Mary has also held roles on Boards of Governors and Trustee Boards. She was joint Director of the Education Desk of the Conference of Religious of Ireland and a founding member of the Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP), an association established by the Irish Bishops’ Conference and the Conference of Religious of Ireland, to foster coherence in Catholic Education at a national level. It aims to provide a unified voice for Catholic Education in the public forum and with educational bodies and the Government, as well as supporting Catholic Educators and those who hold roles of governance, trusteeship and management.
Sometimes an age old concept is phrased in a new way and we are jolted into a fresh understanding and appreciation of what is involved. Pope Francis has a knack of doing just that and I think he caught our imagination with his wonderfully invented word mercy-ing. In turning the noun into a verb, a sentiment into an action, Francis calls us not only to have mercy or to show mercy, but to embody mercy. The word emphasises the active element of mercy, as a force that binds us, compels us, and enables us to love one another more fully.
However, long before Francis invented the word mercy-ing, Catherine McAuley was on a mercy-ing mission. Inspired by the Gospel and moved by compassion for the plight of the poor in Dublin, especially the plight of women, she took action in the early 1800s to remedy the situation. With her selfless spirit and her new found inheritance, she envisioned a way to raise up the status of women through education and training.
Mary then outlined why education was so important to Catherine McAuley. How the Mercy message of Francis was foreshadowed in a very practical way by Catherine, both in her spirituality and her practical outreach to those in need of God’s compassion. How the ministry of education today can actually activate what Francis challenges the world to do – to make the corporal and spiritual works of Mercy active in our world
The presentation was highly acclaimed by all who attended as articulated by one of our staff members, Mrs Tania Hicks. “Sister Mary Reynolds’ message was really interesting and affirming. I especially liked her discussion of the ‘new poverty’ we face in young people lacking meaning in their lives. Also, her reference to education being about growing in wisdom through relationship, as against the mere transmission of knowledge, such a pertinent message to teachers.”
Sister Mary was also the keynote speaker at the Sisters of Mercy Community meeting held at the College on Saturday 8 August. This was one of five such gatherings held at Santa Maria throughout the year. As a school community we feel privileged to host these events and very keen to offer the College facilities, IT support and catering as required.
As well as the community meetings, a number of the Sisters have chosen to celebrate their jubilees at the College. Recently Sister Kathy Kettle celebrated twenty-five years as a Sister of Mercy with a Mass presided over by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe in the College chapel followed by a meal in the Mercy Community Room. On 26 September there will be six Sisters of Mercy celebrating special jubilees during Mercy Day celebrations, ranging from twenty-five years to sixty years as a Sister of Mercy. We congratulate and honour all Sisters of Mercy and thank them for the legacy they have left us.
Mrs Helen Chaffer, Deputy Principal, Mission