Laudato Si’ Week, 19-26 May

Laudato Si’ Week 2024 is being celebrated from 19-26 May marking the ninth anniversary of Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on care for creation, Laudato Si’. The theme this year is ‘Seeds of Hope’.

Last year, on 4 October, the feast of St Francis and the conclusion of the Season of Creation,  Pope Francis published Laudate Deum which focusses on the worldwide climate crisis and its effects.

Among the resources produced for this week’s celebration is an eight-day guide  with a specific theme proposed for each day that assresses aspects of integral ecology, such as waste reduction, renewable energy use and water conservation.

Let us each be inspired to take meaningful action this week and to commit to making permanent lifestyle changes.

La Semana Laudato Si’ 2024 se celebra del 19 al 26 de mayo para conmemorar el noveno aniversario de la histórica encíclica del Papa Francisco sobre el cuidado de la creación, Laudato Si’. El tema de este año es “Semillas de esperanza”.

El año pasado, el 4 de octubre, fiesta de San Francisco y conclusión del Tiempo de la Creación, el Papa Francisco publicó Laudate Deum, que se centra en la crisis climática mundial y sus efectos.

Entre los recursos elaborados para la celebración de esta semana figura una guía de ocho días con un tema específico propuesto para cada día que aborda aspectos de la ecología integral, como la reducción de residuos, el uso de energías renovables y la conservación del agua.


Remembering Our Newfoundland Mercy Story 17:
Sister M. Patrick O’Farrell

Margaret O’Farrell was born in County Tipperary in November of 1841, the only daughter of Mary and Patrick O’Farrell. She arrived in St. John’s on March 17,1865 to enter the Sisters of Mercy. 

At her reception into the Novitiate on August 2 of that same year she received the name Sister Mary Patrick Ligouri. A local newspaper, The Newfoundlander, in its August 3,1865 issue, reported on her Reception Ceremony, noting that a couple of her brothers “our respected townsmen, the Messrs. Farrell” had emigrated to Newfoundland from Ireland and were well established in the business community of St. John’s by the time their sister arrived.

After her profession, Sister M. Patrick spent most of her religious life teaching at St. Bridget’s School in the east end of St. John’s and at St. Peter’s School on Queen Street. Both of these schools were under the care of the Sisters at Mercy Convent and the sisters would have made the daily walk to and from school in all kinds of weathers.

In August of 1884 Sister M. Patrick’s niece, Mary O’Farrell (later known as Sister Genevieve) arrived in St. John’s to enter the Sisters of Mercy. Sister M. Patrick had left Ireland before Mary had been born. Sadly, the two had little opportunity to spend much time with one another, as Sister M. Patrick died on May 10, 1885. Her obituary notice in The Evening Telegram of May 18 1885 speaks of her as follows:

                      She ministered consolation to many a poor sick  death-stricken family,
as well as imparted the gift of
 a religious education
to the destitute and the poor.

Margaret O’Farrell nació en el condado de Tipperary en noviembre de 1841, hija única de Mary y Patrick O’Farrell. Llegó a St. John’s el 17 de marzo de 1865 para ingresar en las Hermanas de la Misericordia.

En su recepción en el noviciado, el 2 de agosto de ese mismo año, recibió el nombre de Hermana Mary Patrick Ligouri. Un periódico local, The Newfoundlander, en su edición del 3 de agosto de 1865, informó sobre su ceremonia de recepción, señalando que un par de sus hermanos “nuestros respetados vecinos, los señores Farrell” habían emigrado a Terranova desde Irlanda y estaban bien establecidos en la comunidad empresarial de St.

Después de su profesión, la hermana M. Patrick pasó la mayor parte de su vida religiosa enseñando en la escuela de Santa Brígida, en el extremo este de San Juan, y en la escuela de San Pedro, en Queen Street. Ambas escuelas estaban bajo el cuidado de las Hermanas del Convento de la Misericordia y las hermanas habrían hecho la caminata diaria hacia y desde la escuela en todo tipo de climas.

En agosto de 1884, la sobrina de la Hermana M. Patrick, Mary O’Farrell (más tarde conocida como la Hermana Genevieve) llegó a St. La Hermana M. Patrick había dejado Irlanda antes de que naciera Mary. Lamentablemente, las dos tuvieron pocas oportunidades de pasar mucho tiempo juntas, ya que la Hermana M. Patrick murió el 10 de mayo de 1885. Su nota necrológica en The Evening Telegram del 18 de mayo de 1885 habla de ella de la siguiente manera:

Consoló a muchas familias pobres, enfermas y afligidas por la muerte,
así como impartió el don de una educación religiosa
a los indigentes y a los pobres.

History of The Gathering Place

Who We Are – A Safe Refuge

Since their arrival in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1800s, the Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters have endeavoured to respond to the needs of people most underserved and at risk in the community. In 1994, they established The Gathering Place in downtown St. John’s in response to an increasing number of people who were seeking food in a safe and inclusive place. As The Gathering Place Guests sought additional support, programs and services were added.

The Gathering Place

In 2010, a strategic planning initiative led to a major renovation financed by the two Congregations, government, and public and private sector donations. This renovated space includes a social room and other supportive health and social services including a laundry, a clothing boutique, showers, access to housing and transportation, education, and dental and health care. Demand for the services continues to grow exponentially. The Gathering Place is now open seven days a week and provides three meals a day as well as a variety of health and social programs.

In October 2020, in response to the growing needs of individuals who were homeless or precariously housed and in partnership with the provincial government, The Gathering Place opened a 30-bed temporary low barrier shelter. The shelter is a safe place for Guests who have nowhere else to go. Most nights, the temporary shelter is at full capacity. In partnership with the federal and provincial governments and with generous private donations and the generosity of the Sisters of Mercy, the former Mercy Convent is now being developed as Mercy House to include a permanent shelter (O’Callaghan Haven) and supportive and transitional housing.

As the numbers of persons who are homeless or at risk of being homeless grow and their social and health needs increase, the Gathering Place has become a special place for even more Guests. The building that once served a hot bowl of soup has now transformed into an active vibrant community health centre, responding to health needs of Guests with an awareness of the influence of social, economic, and environmental factors on health outcomes and health equity. This is a place where people come when they have nowhere else to go; where they find a safe place to sit, eat, shower or talk; where they gather without judgment and without fear. Day after day, those who are most at risk find a safe refuge at The Gathering Place.

Gathering Place – Creating a Caring Community

The Gathering Place is a service centre committed to building community, promoting equality and providing nourishment for those seeking respite from isolation and loneliness.

The Gathering Place was founded in 1994 as a joint project of the Sisters of Mercy and of the Sisters of Presentation. The Gathering place is a non-profit organization supported by two Roman Catholic parishes and three Anglican parishes in the center region of the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gathering Place

The Gathering Place is open for guests Monday to Friday and is operated mostly through financial and in kind donations and by the generosity of a large number of volunteers including a number of Mercy and Presentation Sisters.

The Gathering Place provides meals for 80 – 125 men and women per day. The hospitality and ample space provides a caring and nurturing environment. There is an atmosphere of care, respect, compassion and support that encourages social development and self-esteem and a response to individual needs as they arise. Social services such as advocacy, literacy education, assistance with activities of daily living are made available as resources permit.

Expansion of Programs and Services at the Gathering Place in 2013

 Today co-chairs of the Board of The Gathering Place and a group of dedicated volunteers introduced a special project to enhance and expand much-needed programs and services to help ever increasing numbers of people with complex physical, mental or social difficulties. Intended to be ready late in 2013, the Gathering Place at 172 Military Road will serve more people with improved meal service, health, social and learning programs, in spaces that are accessible and safer.

The Gathering Place

Originally established in 1994 by the Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters in response to the needs of those seeking food, The Gathering Place receives widespread support within the community.  Many service organizations, church groups, foundations, corporations and individuals make financial and in kind donations towards the operation of Gathering Place. The Gathering Place is a registered charity and is managed by a Board of Directors with members from the founding organizations and members from the community at large. The programs and services are offered through a volunteer-driven operation of more than 150 people committed to ensuring that programs and services are available on a consistent basis.

In recent years, programs and services have been added to address the needs of guests. These include foot care, a clothing supply boutique and hair care service.  In addition, through collaboration with other agencies, guests of Gathering Place have access to housing experts, nurses and social workers who help address complex needs.  Guests may avail of other services to include advocacy, literacy and computer programs.

Through the guidance provided by a consultation process, the Board has made plans to enhance and expand programs and services. The Gathering Place of the future will better meet the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, promote equality and provide nourishment for those seeking respite from isolation and loneliness. Plans for broadening the programs and services include:

  • Increasing space for noon meal and breakfast programs
  • Providing an identification clinic for Guests (many people are transient and don’t have adequate identification and need to have a place to secure their documents)
  • Establishing a message centre or post office boxes
  • Making the facility accessible to those with disabilities
  • Adding laundry service areas
  • Facilitating a home-start kit program
  • Designating specific spaces for women and seniors
  • Allocating adequate space for creative pursuits
  • Providing facilities for showering
  • Providing education and training in health and wellness, literacy, computer skills and social development

Associates and Sisters Celebrate 30th Anniversary

On Saturday, 27 April 2024 about fifty sisters and associates gathered in the Recreation Hall to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the associate relationship. 

After a welcome by Sisters Maureen O’Keefe, co-coordinator of the associates and Diane Smyth, Congregational Leader, Sr. Monica Hickey presented a brief history of the founding of the associate relationship in Newfoundland.  With song and prayer the associates re-committed themselves in Mercy, remembered associates who had died, and celebrated their 30th anniversary with cake and refreshments.

Watch the video of the celebrations.

Después de una bienvenida por parte de las Hermanas Maureen O’Keefe, co-coordinadora de los asociados y Diane Smyth, Responsable de la Congregación, la Hna. Monica Hickey presentó una breve historia de la fundación de la relación asociada en Terranova. Con cantos y oraciones, los asociados volvieron a comprometerse en la Misericordia, recordaron a los asociados fallecidos y celebraron su 30 aniversario con tarta y refrescos.


Profession Ring

Watering the Roots at the Wellsprings of Mercy » was the gift of the Sisters of Mercy, Newfoundland to me as an immediate preparation for my Final Profession of Vows.  I was thrilled to spend the whole month of July, 2012 in Catherine’s house on Baggot Street, to walk in her footsteps and breathe in her spirit.

Catherine was never closer to me than when I set out on my quest for the perfect profession ring. After much window shopping and inside browsing, Sister Maureen O’Keefe and I, on the advice of our new-found Irish friend, Sr. Mary McWeeney, found our way to Henry Street and the jewelry store of H. Samuel. Maybe the rest of the story is just pure coincidence but I like to think that the Divine Providence in which Catherine had such faith was also at work here.

You can stand on the sidewalk outside H.Samuel’s and look across to Mary Street at the building where Catherine had once lived with the Armstrongs! The manager of the jewelry store was delighted to prepare the profession ring for a Sister of Mercy of Newfoundland and the lady who assisted us had just spent a year at Memorial University in St. John’s!  Ofcourse the Spirit wouldn’t have anything to do with fact that my motto, “Here I am Lord” should be engraved by Samuel’s!;  Nor that my ring would be ready on the very day that our group had planned a visit to George’s Hill where Catherine and her companions made their profession as the first Sisters of Mercy.

Sr. Mary Kay Dobrovolny, Assistant Director of our program insisted that she drive us to pick up the ring on our way to George’s Hill. Needless to say there was great emotion all ‘round when my profession ring was placed on the altar at George’s Hill beside Catherine’s profession ring during the Ritual and prayer. (I learned that I am the only Sister of Mercy who has had that privilege!)   I felt Catherine’s presence very deeply when the words of blessing were pronounced over me and my ring and I prayed that I would always wear mine with the same love and fidelity that Catherine wore hers.

by Sister Marie Etheridge,rsm  St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Global Irish Famine Way Project

On May 10, 2024, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Basilica Heritage Foundation Inc. and the Embassy of Ireland in Canada hosted two events open to the general public at St. John the Baptist Cathedral Basilica Parish to launch the Global Irish Famine Way Commemorations and celebrate the arrival of the Bronze Shoe monuments in Canada.

The Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda (His Excellency, Dr. Eamonn McKee) spoke at both events.

On Friday, May 10th, 11:00 the Bronze Shoes were brought to the St John’s Basilica for a national commemorative event and the installation of the first Canadian pair of Bronze Shoes. This event included an ecumenical prayer service of thanksgiving for all who gave aid to those who suffered from the Irish Potato Famine in 1847.

All are welcome to attend this event in-person or to watch the ceremony live

And in the afternoon of May 10th, the general public was invited to attend a historical symposium in the Basilica on the events of 1847 and associated links between Ireland and Canada.

The ecumenical service was livestreamed. Watch it below.

The Bronze Shoes will remain on display for visitors at the Basilica with information panels and associated exhibits.

Find out more about this global project here


El 10 de mayo de 2024, en St. John’s, Terranova, la Basilica Heritage Foundation Inc. y la Embajada de Irlanda en Canadá organizarán dos actos abiertos al público en general en la Parroquia Basílica de la Catedral de St. John the Baptist para poner en marcha las Conmemoraciones de la Vía Mundial de la Hambruna Irlandesa y celebrar la llegada de los monumentos Zapatos de Bronce a Canadá.

El Embajador de Irlanda en Canadá, Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua y Barbuda (Su Excelencia, el Dr. Eamonn McKee) intervendrá en ambos actos.

El viernes 10 de mayo, a las 11:00 horas, los Zapatos de Bronce serán llevados a la Basílica de San Juan para un acto conmemorativo nacional y la instalación del primer par canadiense de Zapatos de Bronce. Este acto incluye un servicio ecuménico de oración de acción de gracias por todos los que prestaron ayuda a los que sufrieron la hambruna irlandesa de la patata en 1847.

Todos están invitados a asistir a este acto en persona o a seguir la ceremonia en directo en

Y en la tarde del 10 de mayo, el público en general está invitado de nuevo a asistir a un simposio histórico en la Basílica sobre los acontecimientos de 1847 y los vínculos asociados entre Irlanda y Canadá. Este acto también se retransmitirá en directo en

Las Botas de Bronce permanecerán expuestas para los visitantes en la Basílica con paneles informativos y exposiciones asociadas.

Más información sobre este proyecto mundial

May Associates Newsletter Now Online

Kitty’s Chronicle” is a monthly newsletter distributed to all Mercy Associates. Each month the latest  issue is posted online in the Associates section of our website. The newsletter contains news and views, requests for prayers and material for reflection.

The May issue is now available.

Prayers for the Sick, Resources from the Wisdom Circles, Items of Interest, Important Dates, Information about Catherine McAuley, Women in Canadian History and two delicious recipe,s are among the many topics covered in our latest issue.

Visit the Associates section of our website to find out about Becoming an Associate and the Associate Program