Remembering Catherine McAuley 2019

Sacred Garden at Baggot Street – Holder of Holiness
11 November 2019

This September we joined with many Sisters of Mercy, Associates and others around the world to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Mercy International. The renovation of our founding house at 64A Baggot Street and its establishment as a Mercy Centre for pilgrimage, heritage, hospitality and spirituality has proven to be a blessing for Sisters of Mercy around the world, for our colleagues and for many of us personally. This year we celebrate twenty-five years! We are definitely an international group connected by our common history, heritage and spirituality!

So now in September 2019, the 192th anniversary of the opening of the House of Mercy, the sacred garden at Baggot Street has been renewed and re-dedicated with blessing and celebration. The presence of so many Sisters of Mercy, Associates and colleagues (in person and via modern technology) was definitely an unprecedented international celebration throughout the Mercy world! We are delighted that Patricia, Monica and Elizabeth had prominent roles in these celebrations!

In 1841 shortly after her death, Catherine McAuley was buried in the convent garden at Baggot Street thus making it sacred and holy ground. The next Sister of Mercy to be buried there, one month after Catherine, was Anne Fleming (Sr. Mary Justina), niece of Bishop Fleming. Anne was in the novitiate at Baggot Street and professed on the same date, August 19, 1841, as Marianne Creedon (Sr. M. Francis), Foundress of the Mercy community in Newfoundland. We know that Francis was present with Catherine in her dying and would have been part of the prayer and burial in that garden as well as the burial of her novitiate companion, Justina Fleming, soon after. Bishop Fleming was in Dublin in November 1841 and we might surmise that he was present at Catherine’s funeral and burial and perhaps, the burial of his niece! Thus the garden at Baggot Street takes on additional meaning and significance to us here in Newfoundland.

We have been offered a virtual visit to the garden:Remembering in the Sacred Garden, Baggot Street in this video:

Let us take a few moments to go to the garden at Baggot Street in Dublin, to think about Catherine McAuley, Justina Fleming and the other sisters buried there. Let us think about the hundreds of Sisters of Mercy buried in sacred grounds around the world. Let us remember them with gratitude and love. Let us remember Associates and colleagues who have died.

Also, on this November 11 we are called to remember men and women who died in the two World Wars! We remember them!
Photos: Anne Walsh

Remembering Catherine McAuley 11 November

Catherine McAuley’s Death  

In the evening of Thursday, November 11, 1841, Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, died of tuberculosis at the Convent of Mercy on Baggot Street, Dublin—the first of twelve convents she had established in the preceding decade. She was surrounded by members of the Baggot Street (editor: including sister Mary Francis Creedon), Booterstown, and Limerick communities, some of whom have left written eye-witness reports.  Mary Elizabeth Moore (1806-1868), superior of the convent in Limerick, wrote ten days after Catherine McAuley’s death to the superior of the Mercy convent in Tullamore (founded in 1836):

She died the Death of the Just. Cautious as she was from       bringing herself into notice unnecessarily in health she was still more so in sickness, waiting on herself even in her last agony, preserving to the last moment the same peace and serenity of mind which so eminently distinguished her through Life . . . . her first and last injunction to all was to preserve union and peace amongst each other . . . .

. . . . About five in the evening she asked for the candle to be placed in her hand.

We commenced the last prayers . . . .

When we thought the senses must be going and that it might be well to rouse attention by praying a little louder, she said: No occasion, my darling, to speak so loud, I hear distinctly. In this way she continued till 10 minutes before 8 when she calmly breathed her last sigh.

I did not think it possible for Human Nature to have such self-possession at the awful moment of Death but she had an extraordinary mind in Life and Death. (Letter to Mary Ann Doyle, 21 November 1841)

 

A Place of Pilgrimage: The Grave of Catherine McAuley

The earth grave in which the coffined body of Catherine McAuley was buried on November 15, 1841, is now sheltered by the small stone oratory built over the site in 1910     (Neumann, ed., Letters, 47). Of all the venues of pilgrimage at Mercy International Centre,

Catherine’s grave is the most frequented and the most profoundly reverenced. Here people stand, alone or in groups, in the early morning, during the day, or at twilight. Here they sense the presence of the God in whose providence Catherine McAuley had such great confidence. Here they sing hymns or pray silently or aloud in her spirit, sometimes using the words of her own “Suscipe”:

My God, I am Thine for all eternity; teach me to cast my whole self into the arms of Thy Providence with the most lively unlimited confidence in Thy compassionate tender pity.

Grant, O most Merciful Redeemer, that whatever Thou dost ordain or permit may always be acceptable to me; take from my heart all painful anxiety; suffer nothing to afflict me, but sin; nothing to delight me, but the hope of coming to the possession of Thee, my God, in Thy own everlasting Kingdom. Amen. (Limerick Manuscript)

In this spirit pilgrims to Catherine McAuley’s grave privately ask her to intercede for them and then confidently abandon their needs to God. Sometimes they leave flowers, candles, or handwritten notes; sometimes they take photographs. Always they depart with peace and gratitude for this experience.

Mary Sullivan rsm

 

Celebrating Fifty Years- St. Clare’s Auxiliary

On 23 October 2017 more than one hundred guests gathered at Government House in St. John’s, NL to mark the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Auxiliary.

Their Honours Mr. Frank and Patricia Fagan were hosts in the beautiful and historic residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Former Presidents of the Auxiliary, past and currents members as well as a number of Sisters of Mercy and other friends were in attendance.  Refreshments were graciously served by Government House staff.   Guests and Governor Fagan and his wife mingled about the grand reception rooms.

The Governor spoke for a few minutes to commend the group on reaching this milestone and to thank them for the wonderful work that the Auxiliary  members have done and continue to do on behalf of those who seek health and healing at St. Clare’s.  With grace and hospitality he welcomed everyone to Government House and invited them to explore the rooms and enjoy the beauty and history of the building.

Sister Elizabeth Davis, Leader of the Sisters of Mercy, spoke a few words of greeting to the auxiliary and thanked them for their dedicated and generous service to St. Clare’s and to the patients and families who come there.

Then an address was given by Mrs. Joan Parker Crosbie,  the first President of the Auxiliary:

Your Honours, Mr. and Mrs. Fagan, Sisters of St. Clare’s, President of the St. Clare’s Auxiliary, Auxiliary Past Presidents of the Auxiliary and friends:

It is hard to believe that it was fifty years since the beginning of the auxiliary.  It was a very humble beginning but the enthusiasm of all the members was great.  I would be amiss if I didn’t mention all the encouragement we received from Sister Mary Aidan, Sister Fabian and all the Sisters. The auxiliary reminds me of the proud oak tree that grows from a tiny acorn.

We had a great time starting the auxiliary and many new friendships were formed.  We had a shower and members brought things to sell in the gift shop.  We had a Ball at the Old Colony Club and an auction during the Ball.  I only remember one item (to be auctioned) and that was Ray Guy’s salt and pepper cap.  The paper from inside the rim was missing as he got short-taken out in the woods.  Then there was the Sale of Work.  We took our knitting needles, sewing machine and all Sisters joined in.  They also made the wonderful fudge, which was the first thing to sell out.

I am now at an age that memories are important.  I must say that my memories of St. Clare’s Auxiliary are very happy and proud ones.  I never could imagine that it would grow to the size that it is today.

Congratulations to all the members over the 50 years that have made the auxiliary what it is today.

Appreciation to Governor Fagan was expressed by Leslie Darraugh, current President of the Auxiliary.  Some photos were taken of many of the previous presidents who were in attendance.  It was the end of a lovely and memorable event.

Mrs. Joan Parker Crosbie
Lt. Governor Frank and Mrs. Patricia Fagan
Auxiliary Presidents
Beautiful Decor of Government House

Celebration of 100 Years: Presence of Sisters of Mercy on Bell Island

On Monday evening we attended a most impressive celebration on Bell Island at the invitation of St. Michael’s Parish.  Exactly one hundred years ago, on 19 September 1917, four Sisters (Sisters Mary Consilio, Mary Cecily O’Reilly, Alphonsus McNamara and Mary Aloysius Rawlins) crossed the Tickle and founded our community at the Front.

The people of St. Michael’s Parish invited any Sisters who could attend to join them for Mass, dinner and music. Twenty-one of us joined them for the special evening.

(Going around the table beginning on left)  Srs. Charlotte Fitzpatrick, Maureen Lawlor, Eileen Penney, Barbara Kenny, Rosaline Hynes, Ruth Beresford, Marcella Grant, Sheila Grant, Theresa Boland, Rosemary Ryan- 10 of the 21 Sisters who attended.

The crossing on the new ferry, the Legionnaire, was beautiful – calm and sunny.  The Archbishop and eight priests joined us for the trip.  We were met at the ferry by several Knights of Columbus who offered us drives if needed.  We went directly to Church and joined the parishioners and many others who had come back home for the occasion.

The bell, used at the original St. Michael’s Church and preserved by St. Michael’s High School, was relocated to the grounds of the modern St. Michael’s Parish Church (build on the site of the Immaculate Conception Church after it had burned to the ground).  Archbishop Currie blessed the bell, rang it and then invited a small choir from St. Michael’s School to lead us in O Canada and the Ode to Newfoundland. The bell has so much significance in joyfully in linking our built heritage with the geography of this Island.

We then went into the Church for Mass at which the Archbishop presided.  The sanctuary was lovely, adorned by a single vase of red roses and new white altar cloths with gold embroidery.  The School choir joined the adult choir to lead us in song.  Members of the parish led the Liturgy of the Word.  The Archbishop, in his homily, recalled some of our history on Bell Island right up to the present day with a special mention of Sister Phyllis’ pastoral presence.  He reminded us that the Ode to Newfoundland was sung for the very first time at the opening of the first Catholic school on the Island in 1901!

Parish hall beautifully prepared for the celebration
Display: Timeline showing some of the events
of the past 100 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about the wonderful celebrations on Bell Island. Download the report here

From the Postulator to the Mercy Family Worldwide

The Mercy Family has been asked by the Postulator for the Cause of Catherine McAuley’s Canonisation, Sr Brenda Dolphin, for continued support of prayers for a diocesan inquiry into an alleged miracle of healing through Catherine’s intercession. The task of the Postulator is to guide the case (cause) for canonisation through the processes required.


In October a diocesan process of inquiry will begin in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA to gather materials about an alleged healing through Catherine’s intercession. It is hoped that the proceedings will be finished in November.

Sr Brenda writes: ‘This is the first time we have proceeded to a diocesan inquiry and while we cannot be certain that this will lead to beatification we continue to keep faith and trust in the power of God and the intercessory power of Catherine McAuley.’

She then continues: ‘We are very grateful to each and every one of you for the constant support of your prayers and for the marvellous way by which you give witness to Catherine McAuley’s fame for holiness which is very evident and continues to spread to so many places throughout the world.’

The Sisters of Mercy Newfoundland thank you for the support of your prayers for this inquiry.

We invite you to post a prayer in our online chapel

Download and share this invitation for prayer support:

English: A4 Paper Size (PDF); US Letter Size (PDF)

Spanish: A4 Paper Size (PDF); US Letter Size (PDF)

Opening of Greenhouse at The Gathering Place

On August 25, 2017 a number of people were part of the official opening of a brand new greenhouse at the Barnes Road garden of the Gathering Place.


Representatives of the Gathering Place, staff, volunteers and guests along with the President, teacher, students and parents of St. Bonaventure’s College, Presentation and Mercy Sisters, Archbishop Martin Currie and others watched as students cut the red, blue and gold ribbons.

The greenhouse and the raised bed gardens are part of a collaborative ecology and food project between St.Bonaventure’s College and the Gathering Place that will provide a teaching and learning environment as well as an array of health foods for the cafeterias of both facilities. Today the beds were lush with cabbage, kale, lettuce, zuchinni, peas, herbs and more yet to grow. Marigolds and sunflowers added some color to the garden whilediscouraging grubs and encouraging bees!

Thanks and appreciation was expressed to the teachers, parents and students involved in the building of thegreenhouse, to the summer students and Roger who build the raised beds that had been planted earlier in the summer and the stairway, and to the donors of soil, gravel, wood, plants.

After the cutting of the ribbons a beautiful chocolate cake decorated to look like a kitchen garden was served to those present.

Photos from the 21st General Chapter

Images from our 9 Chapter Days

Ms. Judith King facilates Chapter Service of Remembrance of Deceased
Sisters of Mercy
Chapter Day with Associates,
colleagues and friends
Archbishop Martin Currie enjoys a break
Interested and engaged sisters, associates and colleagues Sister Elizabeth Davis, newly elected leader,
greets Sisters at McAuley Convent
Banquet of Gratitude Welcome to our kitchen party!
Catherine (Mona) McAuley and her schola visited! Treated to a dance from Peruvian sisters
A visit from Marg and Stace (Alverna and Rosline) Eight Sisters in Peru missioned in Huarmey and
Pt. Eten
New Leadership Team – Sisters Betty, Diane,
Elizabeth and Eileen
Whole group including Cait Wims rsm and
Judith King
Congregation blesses newly elected team
member, Eileen Penney
Esther places candle in closing ritual of
21st General Chapter
Closing BBQ at McAuley Convent Chapter Planning Committees:
Coordinating Committee and Contemplative
Listening Committee
 

New Leadership Team – Sisters Betty Morrissey, Diane Smyth, Elizabeth Davis (Congregation Leader) and Eileen Penney

Messages to: Sisters of Mercy Newfoundland

21st General Chapter Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland, 20 – 28 July 2017

For nine days we have met as a community holding accountability for our life in Mercy for the past four years and imagining the unfolding of our life in Mercy over the next four years. Contemplation has been the thread weaving the texture and the colour through our days together. Our profoundly centering logo has drawn us time and again into deeper contemplation as we endeavoured to explore the depths of our motto “Mercying into the future. .  . Misericordiando hacia el futuro. . .”

Two images, one from the logo and one from the motto, now invite us into the living out of our Chapter Statement.  In the logo, the simple panes of the side panels (not the ornate decoration of the earlier drafts) remind us of a time in Catherine’s life when she was uncertain, seemingly out of her depth and without the security of her faith tradition.  We are told that, denied the right to have access to any Catholic symbols or rituals, in her ingenuity she found the Cross in the window panes and door panels and the intersecting branches of trees on the lawn. I see six such crosses in the side panels of our logo – how many do you see?  In a postmodern world, in what familiar yet unexpected places will we find the Creating One, the Risen One and the Spirit of peace and justice?

The time has also come to look at the three dots embedded in our motto.  These three dots, a punctuation mark known in English as an ellipsis, are at the end of the quotation in English and in Spanish and are the link between the two phrases.  There is an invitation to graceful movement inherent in this punctuation mark – it suggests the unfinished thought, the slight pause, the intentional silence, the echoing voice.  In these coming four years, let us attend to those unfinished thoughts, let us respect the slight pauses, let us become calm in the intentional silences, and let us delight in the echoing voices.

During our Chapter days, we heard the echoing voices of four profound phrases: Who we love transforms us ~ Where we live reshapes us ~ How we create remakes us ~ What we choose changes us.

-Reflections given by Elizabeth Davis, rsm on the closing of the 21st General Chapter of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland.

Cait Wims rsm, translator Chapter centerpiece

21st General Chapter: Announcement

On July 21, 2017 Sister Elizabeth Davis, Congregational Leader, will open the 21st General Chapter of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland.

The theme and logo of the Chapter have been drawn forth from the engagement of many sisters, associates, colleagues and friends in the Mercy International Reflection Process of the past year.  Our previous engagement in the Year of Consecrated Life and the Jubilee Year of Mercy have served to establish a solid foundation.   Our Chapter theme Mercying into the future . . .Misericordiando hacia el futuro resonates with  our desire to experience a renewed sense of mercying in this new time leading us into Mercy Global Presence.  The logo faces us with a lively Mercy Cross leaping out of the doors at Baggot Street!

Ms. Judith King, Ireland, has been working with coordinating committees for the past year in planning for the Chapter.  The first two days of Chapter will be experienced in a spirit of contemplative listening, dialogue and presence. The following day associates and colleagues will join us to continue in a mode of contemplative listening with a focus on “mercying” in the context of mission, charism, ministry and community living.  By the end of the day we hope that we would further in creative and energizing ways the initiative and leadership of the Mercy International Reflection Process towards Mercy Global Presence in its dual focus on degradation of earth and the displacement of persons.  We will explore with associates and colleagues to discover how the Sisters of Mercy, in collaboration with them and others, might further such initiative.  In the next days, the chapter delegates will continue to focus on our congregation’s current reality and how we are called in the great movement of mercying now and into the future. We will explore ministry and community living in collaboration and partnerships with others and the way we will live this out in the next four years.  By the end of the week on July 28 the Chapter will hopefully have set clear directions for the future.

Another important part of our Chapter is the election of a new leadership team.   Members of the congregation have been praying and engaged in a discernment process for leadership.  Four sisters will be elected to lead us during the next four years.

Complementing the contemplative aspect of the Chapter and important business there will be plenty of time for celebration, prayer, fun and food.  We have much to celebrate especially in this 175th year of our foundation in Newfoundland.  We have jubilarians celebrating 25, 50 and 60 years; we and relatives of our deceased sisters will remember our deceased members in a ritual in our cemetery; we have invited the general public to pray with us in a Eucharistic celebration followed by  refreshments and gathering; we will have a grand banquet where we express gratitude to the team members of the past four years. We will also have a “kitchen party” that is sure to be entertaining and light-hearted featuring the hidden talents of our members.  We will conclude our Chapter with a barbecue hosted at McAuley Convent in presence of our elderly and sick sisters..

We invite our Mercy friends and others around the world to join with us these days in prayer and support.  We are grateful for the energy and effort of so many with whom we share “Mercy”.

Messages to: Elizabeth Marrie rsm

 

Join the Mercy World in Prayer on the Second Anniversary of Laudato Si’

To mark the second anniversary of the release by Pope Francis of his encyclical letter Laudato Si’, Sisters of Mercy across the globe have committed to 9 Days of Prayer and reflection using the Prayer for our Earth.

The 9 Days of Prayer will commence on Saturday, 10 June and conclude on Sunday 18 June, the actual anniversary of the document’s release. It is one outcome of the Mercy International Reflection Process where we listened attentively to ‘the cry of Earth and the cry of the Poor’.

Resources for the 9 Days of Prayer include:

a reflective logo

the prayer sheet

a poster

reflection pages with additional resources for each of the 9 Days.

 

Access all the resources here and join us in prayer for Earth and the Earth community.