Treasure Trove

You are invited to join thousands of men, women and youth, Sisters of Mercy, friends and colleagues in an exciting challenge and a treat.

The Mercy International Reflection Process (MIRP) begun in December 2015  provides a treasure trove of resources for us to explore and savour!    Issues are raised in our groups in response to the theme: ‘The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor’.   These resources are steeped in the light of biblical, theological, spiritual, ecclesial and mercy tradition!

To assist us in this exploration and engagement, a number of scholars and other experts were invited to share their knowledge and insights through video interviews.  These videos and other treasures are available to you and to anyone with whom you would like to share them.

Enter into the treasure store and feast!

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Foundation of Mercy in Newfoundland

What must have gone through the heart and mind of Marianne Creedon when Bishop Fleming asked her if she would return to Ireland to train as a Sister of Mercy!  “Go back to Ireland; enter the convent? Come back to St. John’s and start up a convent here?”  What must the bishop be thinking!!

Life was fairly comfortable now in St. John’s and Marianne had settled in well.  Her family and friends were here and she was teaching and serving the sick and the poor in various ways.  At the age of 21 she had earlier faced the unknowns of life in her move to St. John’s in 1833: the loss of what was secure and familiar in her home with the Nugents in Waterford, the risk and suffering of crossing the ocean to a new land, the leaving of all that was familiar.

Now, what was Bishop Fleming asking of her?  What was God asking of her?

The thoughts of returning to Dublin may have been exciting for the young woman; but the long voyage over the north Atlantic ocean!  This would indeed be a challenge!  Then there was the excitement of a new challenge to join a certain Catherine McAuley in a brand new religious order, an order different from other orders in Ireland.  Weren’t the Sisters of Mercy called the “walking nuns” because they visited the poor and the sick in their homes and in the hospitals?  Is God calling her to something new,  again?

Bishop Fleming must have seen great potential and giftedness in Marianne.  He must have had great trust in her leadership, her ability and her faith.  He knew of her skill to nurture the spiritual, intellectual, artistic and social life of the Catholic population in St. John’s and beyond.  Catherine McAuley, too, must also have had deep trust in Marianne and guided her to completion of her novitiate at Baggot Street where she made religious profession as a sister of Mercy in August 1841.  There seems to have been an agreement with Catherine that Marianne, now Sister Mary Francis, would return to Newfoundland to found there the Sisters of Mercy.  Likely Catherine McAuley would have accompanied the founding group but she was too sick and died a few months later.  Catherine’s successor, Sister Mary dePazzi upheld the foundress’ commitment to Newfoundland.    Francis Creedon, Rose Lynch and Ursula arrived in St. John’s on June 3, 1842 to establish the first foundation outside of England and Ireland.

Marianne was home, now as a Sister of Mercy.  She, Rose Lynch and Ursula Frayne  immediately took up the works of Mercy.  The three founding sisters opened a school on Military Road in May, 1843 and continued to visit the sick poor in their homes.  By the middle of November that same year Sisters  Rose and Ursula had returned to Ireland leaving Francis and a newly professed Mary Joseph Nugent in St. John’s to carry on the mission.  So thanks to these two the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland continued to grow and to flourish.  This is our story!   June 3 is our foundation day!

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NL Hydraulic Review Panel endorses recommendations made by Religious

The NL Hydraulic Review Panel has forwarded its Final Report to Government.

The Report endorses the recommendations that were made in the submissions from Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice (PDF) and from the Roman Catholic Religious Leaders of Newfoundland and Labrador (PDF) (of which our Leadership Team are members).  While they have not recommended a complete ban on fracking, they have suggested that much more information and certainty is needed before fracking can be allowed to proceed in this province – that information not only relates to the science and technology involved but equally to public health and socio-economic matters.

iStock.Used under licence

It is worth noting that, in a number of places, the authors of the Report use the actual wording from our Religious Leaders’ submission.  As a result, the submission from the Religious Leaders is actually cited in the Bibliography at the end of the Report.  We do believe that we influenced the Panel on matters relating to the appropriate health system infrastructure if fracking is undertaken (they specifically quote our submission on this point).  In many other instances they included our thinking, but we were among many others making the same points.  Perhaps most significantly, the Panel makes reference to the use of the Precautionary Principle or Precautionary Approach – this was at the basis of our submission.  It means that, if there is a significant risk to the health of people or the environment in undertaking a specific action and if there is not certainty that the risks can be addressed, the action should not be undertaken.  After our presentation had been submitted, Laudato Si’ was published – in the encyclical, Pope Francis also makes reference to this principle.

One of the key points from the Report is the focus on Community Engagement or Social Licence.  It is found within the Report as well as in a special Appendix to the Report.  Although we did not make reference to the actual term “social licence” in our presentation, we were strong in our wording that the voices of those most affected by and most vulnerable to the effects of fracking be heard and that special provisions be made to ensure that the voices could be heard (not simply an open invitation to a meeting).  Attached is the section of the Report on this issue.

It is safe to say that this is one ecological issue on which we have had a positive influence as a Congregation.  We thank you for your support and your prayers as we moved through the process.  The Religious Leaders have thanked the Panel members, noting especially their attention to community engagement and social licence.

Executive Summary (44pps; PDF):

Executive Summary. NL Hydraulic Fracturing Review Panel. 31 May 2016

Community Engagement (7pps; PDF)

Section of NLHFRP Report on Community Engagement

The Forgotten Graveyard

The first Sister to enter our Congregation in Newfoundland and also to be the first Sister to die in Newfoundland was buried in what has come to be known as “The Forgotten Graveyard.” A number of our Sisters gathered with members of the Benevolent Irish Society (BIS) and other community members on Saturday, May 28, 2016 to dedicate a plaque in memory of the first Catholic graveyard in St. John’s as well as to honour the memory of Sister Mary Joseph Nugent. This plaque has been installed on the stone wall near the bottom of Long’s Hill.

The Forgotten Graveyard, located on the grounds on which the Kirk now stands and extended to Queens Road and west to Long’s Hill, opened in 1811 but was no longer in use by 1849. In those years over 400 people were buried there.

A fire in 1846 caused extensive damage to the graveyard. Then the typhus epidemic, which broke out in June 1847, saw many Irish people buried there – including our Sister Mary Joseph Nugent who died on June 17, 1847 having contracted typhus as she ministered to the people who were sick and dying from this terrible epidemic.  Fear that the town’s water would be  tainted from the disease caused the graveyard to be closed and Catholics began to be buried in the recently opened Belvedere Cemetery.

The Great Fire of 1892, which destroyed most of St. John’s, did further damage to the Long’s Hill Graveyard since much of the debris from the fire was dumped on the site. At that time, many bodies were moved from there to Belvedere Cemetery.  In speaking to the gathered group at the BIS event on Saturday, Larry Dohey, from The Rooms, noted that not all of the bodies were removed from Long’s Hill. Later, one of us asked him if the bodies not moved were those who had died from the 1847 typhus epidemic. And he replied “yes”. 

Now that the BIS has brought forward the knowledge of the “Forgotten Graveyard” there is a further desire to re-establish the area as a sacred space. Mr. Bruce Templeton spoke during the ceremony on behalf of The Kirk. He told the gathering that he first heard of the Forgotten Graveyard from Sister Patricia March! He further explained that when you step out of the Kirk you are actually in the graveyard.  Mr. Templeton finished his remarks by saying that the people of The Kirk and the BIS are planning to go further in making the area a sacred space once again.


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Human Solidarity: June Prayer Intention of Pope Francis

We are all invited to join with Pope Francis and his worldwide prayer network in praying this month’s intention: Human Solidarity.

‘That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.’


Forthcoming Papal Prayer Intentions:

Pope Francis’ remaining prayer intentions for 2016 will include: greater respect for  indigenous peoples; helping sports contribute to peace; encouraging journalists to respect truth and be more ethical; greater support for countries that take in refugees; and an end to the use of child soldiers.

Pope’s Intentions for 2016

Post your prayer in the Baggot Street Chapel