From its foundation the Mercy Congregation has had a special ministry to the poor. Care for the poor and oppressed was especially dear to Catherine McAuley’s heart and the driving force behind her decision to found a religious order. “Service of the poor, the sick and the ignorant” is considered to be a fourth vow of the Sisters of Mercy.
Immediately on their arrival in St. John’s the three founding members of the Newfoundland mission, Sisters Ursula Frayne, Rose Lynch and Francis Creedon, began the visitation of the poor and the sick in their homes.
Over the years even though many of the sisters have been fully occupied in their teaching and nursing ministries they found time to visit individuals and families in need. In addition to the more “informal visitation,” ministry to the poor has taken on a more structured format in facilities like the Gathering Place, Food Banks, Prisons, Women’s Centres, Breakfast or Lunch Programs, Family Care Centres.
Whether formally organized or not, care and attentiveness for the poor has been part of our Mercy culture: a poor child in the school, a poor patient in the hospital or nursing home, poor families in the neighbourhood, or a poor person begging food at the door. Love and care for the poor and a congregational option for the poor is the challenge and the blessing of the Gospel and of our Mercy charism.