CELEBRATION OF FOUNDATION DAY 2021
On the third Sunday of Advent – ‘Gaudete Sunday’, 12th December 2021 - the 190th Anniversary of her religious Profession and establishment of the Sisters of Mercy by Venerable Catherine McAuley and her two helpers, Mary Elizabeth Harley and Mary Ann Doyle, Sisters Maura and Maureen, the Stechford Mercy Associates with Sister Teresa Paschal O. Carm got together in the Parish Room at Corpus Christi, Stechford to celebrate Foundation Day. My mother, Margaret Ward, was also warmly welcomed among us. This was an especially joyful occasion since, apart from some of us meeting to plan a contribution to the Parish Summer Sale, Covid restrictions meant we had not been together in person for over 12 months.
After apologies and prayer for our Associates who had died, were currently poorly or unable to join us for other reasons, we began our afternoon by singing the Suscipe together. It felt great to hear the beautiful melody and words “Loving Lord”.
Sr. Maureen shared some Foundation Day reflections from MIA and Sr. Maura read from the historical account by Mary Ann Doyle of the Profession event at George’s Hill Presentation Convent on 12th December 1831. We heard how Catherine had a vision of the religious life that was apostolic rather than enclosed. Her hands-on approach to helping the sick poor of Dublin was critical to her vocation and once the Church accepted her mission, she and her helpers agreed to commit their lives to God through the Church for the establishment of the Congregation.
Sr. Maura explained that the wearing of the white church cloak was a blessed action on Sundays and some Feastdays in the past and Sister Teresa Paschal remembered this in her Congregation. These cloaks were illustrated in the painting by Sister Mary Clare Augustine Moore on the Advent Prayer leaflet sent by Sister Annette McCartan. We heard that from the early days of the Order, a Sister’s Act of Profession would be similarly illustrated with, for example, a biblical scene or beautiful flowers like the Lily. Each Sister of Mercy has her formula of Vows, signed by herself and the Superior General of her day, displayed in her room.
We completed our prayer with the Advent leaflet, singing ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ and reflecting on the Nativity/Mercy painting mentioned above. Some silent reflection and sharing of prayer followed and this was a blessed moment for us all. The Intercessory and final prayers concluded a truly beautiful, prayerful time followed by our ‘shared table’ of Christmas food and drinks with carols playing in the background.
We wished each other a peaceful and holy Christmas season and assured prayers for all.
Thank you, Sisters, for inviting us and allowing us to share love and fellowship. Happy Christmas to Mercy Sisters and Associates everywhere.
Angela Powers, pre-Associate.