In this edition of Connections, we hear from some of the pilgrims who recently participated in Module 2 of the Mercy Leadership Program and Dublin Pilgrimage. From experience, many of you reading this reflection will know that something profound can happen when we are in the place and space where Catherine McAuley, and her early companions, brought to life this newly established Order of Mercy in December 1831.
The original House of Mercy on Baggot Street in Dublin still stands and was the ‘sacred gathering space’ throughout the pilgrimage. Through our Community Service, Education and Health and Aged Care Ministries, we continue the work of the founders, the women and men of vision and commitment who established the organisations which are now part of Mercy Ministry Companions. Our founding stories are deeply connected to Baggot Street, with its ‘Mercy energy’ going out to all the world.
On Sunday May 28 we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, often referred to as the founding of the Church. In the Acts of the Apostles (Ch 2: 2, 4), St Luke describes the Pentecost experience:
“And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Catherine McAuley and other founders such as Edmund Rice and Mary MacKillop, were energised by the Spirit of God working through them and their companions, to bring their mission of service to life. Inspired by Jesus and in the spirit of the Gospel, they were attuned to the signs of the times and had the courage to create new forms of ministry to meet the needs of the people they felt called to serve. They point us to their sources of inspiration and energy. Their ‘energising spirit’ was nourished through prayer and reflection, noticing things around them, engagement with others and seeking right relationships based on living out their core values.
Our communities are enriched by the diversity of faith backgrounds and beliefs, gifts and talents, languages and cultures, questions and insights which are brought to the organisation’s table. They give us energy and a life-enhancing spirit. We are invited to work together to ‘notice things’, to discern what is possible and how we might go about honouring the mission and vision of our founders today. In continuing to re-energise our mission and vision, we draw on our founding biblical stories, our sacred texts and our founding charism so that God’s mercy, justice and compassion are shaped, recognised and lived anew when people engage with us.
In her “Pentecost Prayer”, Joyce Rupp captures something of how this ‘Spirit’ to which we refer, might be experienced in our daily life:
Spirit, Wild One, sweeping in unseen, unannounced,
Unexpected, uncompromising, pressing through the door,
Startling those hovering in fear,
Shaking them out of the corners, awakening concealed gifts.
Spirit, Wild One, relentless loving presence,
Bringing strength to the weak, courage to the fearful,
Determination to the doubtful, joy to the disheartened,
Faith to the disbelieving.
Spirit, Wild One, come whirling into my soul space,
Gather what remains in disarray, lift up what is neglected,
Send forth what wants to hold back,
Impassion what hesitates, heal what remains wounded.
Spirit, Wild One, breathe large gusts in me,
Sweep through my being, drench me with hope,
Soften my resistance, wrap your love around me
till I welcome you fully.
[Joyce Rupp (2017) Prayer Seeds Sorin Books Notre Dame IN, pp. 175-176]
Annette Schneider RSM