I am writing this reflection as Mercy Week comes to an end. What a week! 190 years ago on September 24th, Catherine McAuley opened the first house of Mercy. It is hard to believe that Maria College stands in an almost 200 year tradition of mercifully reaching out to others. Catherine McAuley’s vision of empowering those in need to improve their lives and those of their communities animates and inspires our work at Maria today.
This week reminded me of the wonderful community of faculty and staff at Maria who give above and beyond for the success of our students. I was personally moved by the number of the Maria community and local Sisters of Mercy who came to celebrate together this wonderful legacy and mission.
The installation of a sculpture of Catherine was a moving beginning to the week. Her presence has always been here on campus, but the installation of a permanent image of Catherine will hopefully remind us of her life which continually draws us forward to realize our mission.
The words written on the tribute wall by contemporary poet Mary Wickham RSM, remind us of the simplicity of Mercy as words of kindness. With the plethora of needs at the college and in the world, we can often feel overwhelmed and tired, and left wondering how much can one person do? Catherine’s approach was simple: be merciful to the person in front of you.
The mission at Maria is about education, yes, but it is also about how we do the mission and how we behave to one another. If we want to be radical in living the mercy mission we have to practice radical hospitality to each other, in our diverse needs and gifts. This is so much harder than it seems, and requires a lot of patience, and a lot of mercy, especially to ourselves.
In Catherine’s House on Baggot Street, Mercy Day mass concluded with the traditional mercy anthem Circle of Mercy (by J. Goglia RSM). Every time I hear this song I am moved by some of the sentiments, and I will leave you with them for your own reflection:
In Mercy, we touch the hearts of those who are in misery.
In Mercy, we heal the pain of those who are in sorrow.
In Mercy, we forgive the incompleteness in another.
In Mercy, we are drawn within the loving heart of God.
In Mercy, we join with one another on our journey.