Twenty five years. In a marriage, in religious life, in commitment to a ministry, this is a length of time to which we attach particular meaning. It signifies fidelity, forbearance, compromise, commitment, love that endures. We look back over the span of those years and focus on moments that were turning points, people who were influential, graces asked for and received. On the strength of those years we dare to re-commit, trusting ourselves and our God....
Catherine McAuley did not travel outside of Europe. Yet, it is known that she had given serious consideration to taking the long and difficult voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, specifically to Nova Scotia and to Newfoundland. Before exploring Catherine’s plan to cross the ocean, we need to look at historical and church-related events that had occurred or were taking place on the North American side of the world...
As Mercy we are called upon to pray for Catherine’s cause and to promote it. In this small report it is hoped that we can provide a thumbnail sketch of some of the things that happen here to make Catherine better known, through prayer, reflection on her life, the mission, and story. This seems to be the way to understand her spirituality, the depth of her compassion and her total dedication to God and his people. Hopefully through knowledge of her, the process of canonization will become a reality by “doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
Saint Catherine McAuley. Though believing the truth of that phase even as we pursue the cause of Catherine’s canonization, I find the words somewhat stiff and distancing. To so many of us she is simply and affectionately, Catherine. Yes, we love her accomplishments and admire her centeredness in God. Yet we also remember her struggles, enjoy her humor, and acknowledge her foibles. We connect with her as real, as human, as feminine, as somehow familiar.
For those who live in religiously pluralistic cultures and for those who experience the Mercy spirituality and ethos bequeathed by the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, it is beneficial to discover within her personal history a prototype of religious tolerance and ecumenism. This paper aims to explore Catherine’s experience of Interfaith Dialogue and to examine its influence on Mercy Spirituality.
Her apologia never penned,
Yet written in our hearts.
Her deeds live on in us who strive
God’s mercy to impart.
Earlier this year, by way of commemorating the tenth anniversary of Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy, I spent some time re-reading the issue of MAST (Vol.8, #3) that was published in conjunction with the completion of our book of prayer.
Our Lady of Mercy
Saint Joseph Calasanctius
Sheila Carney rsm, vice postulator for the Cause of Catherine McAuley’s Canonization, talks about the process for canonization, how Catherine’s Cause is proceeding, and some of the value that Catherine’s canonization would be to the Church.
On the 9th April 2010 we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the declaration by Pope John Paul II of Catherine McAuley as Venerable. On this day 20 years ago the decree was issued by the Pope declaring publicly that Catherine was indeed a holy woman. With this declaration came the fulfilment of the belief in her holiness by the sisters of her Congregation and many others who knew her and who were responsible for setting her Cause in motion in 1903.
“We come into this world on the breath of His Compassion, and we go out of this world on the breath of His Mercy”. At the beginning of Lent I came across this saying while reading Breathing Alive by Rashad Field. It has stayed with me ever since. Recently, while listening to the Gospel story of the Merciful Father I gained new insight into its meaning and a greater perception and acceptance of God as my Merciful Father.
When people ask me why is it important that Catherine McAuley be canonised, something of what happened for me last Sunday strikes me. If and when Catherine is canonised there is no knowing how many lives will be influenced for the good by the story of the Dublin woman who put her life and all she had on the line for Jesus Christ. Canonisation means that Catherine’s life and the Charism entrusted to her, and which she lived so faithfully, will be shared by the Universal Church in a way that cannot happen otherwise.
On the 7th September, 2009 Sunderland Stadium of Light was the venue for a Catherine McAuley Conference attended by Sisters, Associates and Friends of Mercy from many parts of England, Scotland and visiting guests from Ireland. In all, over two-hundred-and-fifty people gathered in the Banqueting Suite to be enthralled and inspired as Sr.Brenda Dolphin unfolded Catherine’s Story: “Woman of God. Woman for God’s People” .
In the evening of Thursday, November 11, 1841, Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, died of tuberculosis at the Convent of Mercy on Baggot Street, Dublin - the first of twelve convents she had established in the preceding decade. She was surrounded by members of the Baggot Street, Booterstown, and Limerick communities, some of whom have left written eye-witness reports.
One day last March I received a telephone call from Sr. Breege O'Neill, our Central Leader, asking me to consider taking on the position of Vice-Postulator for the Cause of Catherine McAuley. It came as a bolt out of the blue and I asked for some time to consider it. Although, I was apprehensive about taking the ministry on I found the idea very challenging. After some discernment I agreed.