The ‘Maryland Mercy Associates’ met on 14 March. I was delighted to accept an invitation to attend what was a most inspiring, moving and encouraging meeting. The enthusiasm for Mercy was tangible. There was lots of cheerful, happy conversation which reminded me of Catherine’s words, “You must be cheerful and happy animating all around you.”
But we know that Catherine our foundress experienced great suffering in her life – from the loss of her parents at an early age, through her struggles to serve the poor and confront the injustices of society, and in her relationships with authority in the church. Through it all, she could pray “…pray fervently to take all bitterness from me…” In her acceptance of suffering she found happiness, and ultimately she could say “The Congregation was founded on Calvary, there to serve a suffering Redeemer.”
So that evening we followed the Way of The Cross through a Powerpoint presentation (beautifully put together by Sr. Annette) which reflected the sufferings of Jesus, how Catherine accepted the cross in her life, and the sufferings in our world today.
Catherine, who has been attending meetings for some time, made her commitment as a Mercy Associate. We welcomed Stella who is interested in Venerable Catherine’s Story, and the Associates present renewed their Commitment. Sr. Maura and I renewed our Vows.
Afterwards, Maura and I shared how the Associateship had inspired and encouraged us, and the Associates shared some of their experiences of how they came to know the Sisters of Mercy.
With the permission of Cath, I quote some of her words:
“I have very fond memories of The Sisters of Mercy who were responsible for my early education both at Maryland (when it was used as a school) and when we moved to St. Adrian’s when it was built – I was seven at that time so it must have been around 1960. The nuns had already established SS Alban and Stephen School.
The Education we had was probably second to none in terms of its breadth and depth. Sr. Margaret was my first teacher – in those days she was Sr. Mary Paul. The main influences were Sr. Mary Teresa Joseph and Mother Edith.
I also remember how kind and welcoming the Sisters were to my Father (a non-Catholic). He was a night worker and my Mother left the house very early in the morning to go to work, so he took us to Maryland. He admired all the nuns greatly and I know they thought a lot of him.”
Thank you Cath for that lovely tribute and reminding us of our history and the great women who have gone before us.
Our meeting coincided with that morning’s post in which we received a copy of the article entitled “Women of Faith made History.” In it Marie Martin praises the founders of Religious Orders, Mary Aikenhead, Catherine McAuley, Nano Nagle, Margaret Aylward and others. It concludes by saying “The women who founded these orders should be given their rightful place in Irish history. They were the prophets of their day. In appreciating their vision and courage, we too can be inspired to discern and remedy the problems of our time.”
How blessed we are as Sisters and Associates to be called to follow their spirit and example.
Thank you to the Maryland Associates for inspiring and encouraging us.
Article kindly provided by Sr. Margaret Jones