Two special events were held in St. John’s – both to honor the ministries of the Sisters of Mercy.
It is coincidental that in the formalities of both events the song Standing on The Shoulders was sung. The song reflects on the strength and courage of those whom we followed in life and ministry and recognized that we are the shoulders upon which others will stand as they go forward.
St. Patrick’s Mercy Home
The Most Reverend Martin Currie, Archbishop of St. John’s, presided at a Mass at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home in the morning of this Week of Elder Care. The celebration recognized the commitment of the Sisters of Mercy at the home for the past fifty-six years.
In her speech Sister Elizabeth Davis, Congregational Leader, described how the Sisters of Mercy responded to a vision of a former archbishop, P.J. Skinner, to establish a home for the elderly population by taking on the staffing and administration of the home. She commended the dedicated staff and volunteers who worked with the sisters to provide the warmth and care that makes St. Patrick’s a “home”.
The music in the liturgy was lead by a group of women who were former students of the sisters at Holy Heart of Mary High School.
All were invited then to a lovely lunch and a celebration cake.
The Gathering Place
This is also big week for The Gathering Place. The Gathering Place is a newly renovated and redeveloped community centre initiated by both the Presentation and Mercy Sisters in 1994 in response to the needs of the poor in the downtown area of the city. In the beginning The Gathering Place was based in a vacant school building of the Sisters of Mercy and provided meals and time and space for social activities for the guests. Various programs like literacy education, art, music, health and social services were added. The Presentation Sisters were partners in the administration and coordination of this project. The volunteer corps came from the various churches in the centre city area.
In 2012 a major financial campaign to renovate the building and to enhance the programs of the Gathering Place was undertaken with a goal of 7 million dollars. At this date 6 million dollars have been raised through the hard work of the gift team and the generosity of people – thousands of dollars from large multinational companies and a five dollar bill from a passer-by!
In the reconstruction phase basic services continued and were available through a nearby spirituality centre owned by the Presentation Sisters, The Lantern. The life and the spirit of The Gathering Place continued in its temporary home until they moved home to the completely renovated space in late September.
Events of this week honored the guests, the founders, the volunteers, the donors, the media and the general public – all who are associated with The Gathering Place.
What a blessing for the poor and isolated of downtown St. John’s!