The Mission of Mercy is timeless and knows no boundaries. It finds expression in different ways at various times in our lives. Ours is a life that no matter where it is lived aspires to be based on Gospel values. We live in vastly varied social contexts where we affect and are affected by realities around us.
Based in the town of Thurles and living in a community in New Inn, Co. Tipperary, I now work as a Public Health Nurse in a rural area with North Tipperary Community Care. I have worked in an urban and disadvantaged area in Limerick City for many years before this. As Public Health Nurses we work as part of a multi-disciplinary team which consists of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Social Workers Environmental Health Officers and Community Welfare Officers. We also liaise with hospitals and General Practitioners. Involvement and input with these disciplines vary depending on the need and situation of each new day. The various changes in family life, society and the cutbacks in Health Care have impacted on our role and bring more challenges and limitations.
In my daily work I am inspired more and more by my colleagues and the measures that they take to help people. The main groups of people we interact with are the Elderly, Children, Young Chronically ill and People with Disabilities. Journeying with these people both challenges and nourishes me. One of the privileges of our role is that we have direct entry into people’s homes and this gives an insight into the struggles and sufferings people endure.
Sr. Rena Ryan
Witnessing the vulnerability of people, the effects of economic poverty on family life and the increasing inability of some parents to nurture and care for their children is often heart breaking. There are many people who cannot be cured. Many situations that cannot be resolved but sometimes, all that makes the difference is the listening ear and the caring heart. Just being present to someone at times with a heightened awareness of ones own pain and the pain of the other is enough, I believe, to mirror the compassionate face of Jesus. I see this as being at the core of our Mercy journeying. The rate of change and the pace of life are so fast nowadays. I encounter many people, both young and old, thirsting for someone to listen to them. As a Mercy Sister I can make the choice and go the extra mile. One can bring hope and compassion to these situations. The challenge is to stretch our hearts and love even wider and wider. An awareness that is coming more and more to me, however is the need I have personally in my own life for contemplation and nurturance for myself. I cannot share what I haven’t got. I will not be able to respond on a daily basis at this level unless I have times of reflection to help give me an insight into how the Spirit is at work in and through me and in those around me.” In God I live and move and have my Being”
As Patrick Kavanagh put it so beautifully, to be able to” find God in the bits and pieces of the everyday”. The Spirit is at work but can go unrecognised without a daily tuning in This helps me to stay grounded and not carried away in a whirlwind of activity.
The God of Mercy is revealed to us when we allow in our own pain and know the pain of the other. This will enable us to stand in the shoes of the other and share their pain and suffering. But in order to be able to reach out we need to be able to get the God energy from within ourselves and from within community. We can underestimate sometimes, I think, how much we can do for one another in our religious communities and also how much we need the support and understanding of one another to be able to sustain the energies we need to minister. “Because the amount you measure is the amount you will be given back.”
Formation and education is another key area of our ministry, a very vital part, helping to prevent the disempowerment and suffering particularly of women and children. I have just completed a series of antenatal classes sharing with women skills for their childbirth. The role of advocate is often part of my workday, contacting County Councils and different Organisations imploring them to help improve the housing situation thereby relieving the misery and often hidden poverty in rural areas. Our new Irish too, can often be found living in substandard accommodation, with very little support.
And so we ask. What does God require of us only this,” to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God today”
Rena Ryan rsm