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16th Apr 2019 - Mercy Retreat at St. Mary's, Blackbrook

A Mercy Associate Retreat Day was held in St Mary’s Blackbrook on Saturday 15th April, 2019. It was well attended with over 40 persons present. Associate groups came from Oldham, Golborne, Blackbrook and Finch Lea Drive.

The day was organised by Sister Jo Gleeson and the presentation was led by Sister Geraldine and Sr Mary. Sr Bridie, Sr Betty and Maria Overend from the Mercy Associate National Commission also attended

The “Theme” was based on ‘Laudato Si' an encyclical from Pope Francis which is a profound invitation to everyone on the planet to care for our common home. The Sisters posed a question at the start of the day:

“What is our new call to Mercy in the face of the urgency of climate change / global warming and the widespread destruction of habitats and species essential for life on earth? What action can I / we take?”

We began with morning prayer “The Cry of the Poor, The Cry of the Earth, The Cry of God.” Pope Francis and the 8th work of Mercy. After a power point reflection we processed in silence to the Church for the Stations of the Cross, The Cafod Stations.

Returning to the hall various ideas were discussed and it was noted that there is apparently only 25 years of water left in the UK. Those present queried the necessity of carrying around bottles of water all day – we managed without this years ago. The proposed action was that we all write to the big supermarkets and ask them to stop selling water in plastic bottles.

The discussion then moved on to alternative ways of managing beverages and there was a brief discussion about one of the large coffee chains who were happy to use refillable cups ; bring your own cup and not only not use the plastic which is so hard to recycle but save money as well!

Another contributor to the ongoing discussion referred to Veronica wiping the face of Jesus - she said, “don’t just think about it, do it!” And another was to ‘switch off power for an hour’ once a month, once a week, or every day and spend some or all of that time in prayer.

Sr Mary suggested we ask the earth to write us a letter and remember all the good times in our past, then ask ourselves what went wrong, what has changed – we have largely moved from rural/semi rural areas to concrete jungles – what is missing?

Technology has taken over our lives – how can we put this right? What kind of good actions can we take?

Sr Geraldine asked if we consider where our produce comes from. Air travel comes with a huge carbon footprint. Is there anything we can do to reduce our carbon footprint? A suggestion was made that we could write to organisations requesting labelling on produce and other goods that would enable us to identify its country of origin, noting that some of the products we buy are produced in sweatshops. However, it was suggested that we continue to purchase Fairtrade goods.

There was reference made to the number of huge buildings that are hastily built and almost as quickly demolished. Could we avoid this kind of waste of time and resources by better forward planning?

Sr Mary then posed the question, “how would I like the world to be in 50 years? What kind of earth will we leave behind us?

After lunch 3 Associates made their commitment as Mercy Associates Maria from Finch Lea Drive and Christine and Patricia from Gobourne.

Fr Dooley visits the group at the end of the day

Some of the group adding their pictures to make a mosaic of the earth

Fr. Dooley looking at the focus and Sr. Bridie shows him the relic of Venerable Catherine McAuley



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