In July 2020 the vision statement of Mercy International took on a concrete expression as we gathered “the inspiration and energies of the Sisters of Mercy, our Associates, colleagues and partners worldwide toward the creation of a Mercy global presence”.
COVID-19 was one of those ‘signs of the times’ that shed new light on Mercy Global Presence. Suddenly, Zoom became an essential tool for communication. The Co-Ordinators meeting with the Guiding Team in June considered the possibility of reflecting globally together. The idea emerged that we could explore in conversation our reflections from Mercy Global Presence amid the intercultural realities within and among our Mercy World.
We recognised the challenges of time zones and, as a result, we planned to have three regional gatherings at convenient times to enable worldwide participation, and with an openness to participants joining from across the regions.
The focus for each of the sessions was one of the four posters, summarising a theme from Segment 2 ‘Mercy’. Each gathering lasted one hour. They were open to Sisters, Associates, Colleagues and Partners-in-Mercy.
Zoom call in progress
There was a wonderful response. For two months, from July until September, participants from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Guyana, Honduras, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Poland, Peru, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States freely crossed the globe unhindered by borders. We felt a renewed sense of our internationality as we prayed with, listened to and shared from our local experience. There was excitement when participants saw familiar faces from different parts of our Mercy World and renewed those connections.
In each of the 12 Regional Zoom Gatherings we had 75 – 100 participants. There was great diversity among us. We were young and old, English speaking, Spanish speaking, women and men, Associates and Partners-in-Mercy all sharing our reflections, experiences and questions. The Co-Ordinators from each institute and congregation facilitated the conversations. We were blessed to have the technological skills of Anne Walsh and Adele Howard rsm who were always ready to help those who struggled to connect to Zoom or the internet as well as facilitating translation.
In the midst of this global pandemic, which is highlighting the flaws and weakness of many of institutions, we were beginning to witness to a new way of being Mercy Global Presence. Rooted in an integral ecology which urges us to see the Cry of Earth and the Cry of the Poor as one universal cry, we were reminded of our need to continue to deepen our analysis, reflect on our theologies, listen to each other and to value the diversity among us. In the words of Elizabeth Davis rsm, ‘This affirms the fact that as Mercy Globally, we can be creators of hope, allowing the spirit of Mercy to unite us in our diversity. Catherine reminds us “The blessing of unity still dwells amongst us and oh what a blessing. . . the true spirit of Mercy flowing on us.”
Segment three of Mercy Global Presence will begin on 30th September 2020. We will still be living through this pandemic, a time of social distancing, social isolation, mask wearing, and fear of lockdowns. How will this context inform our reflections on “Presence”? For the next three months we will reflect on Presence of/with/to God, Presence to Earth, Presence in Ministry and Community Presence to Self and others. At this challenging time, Mercy Global Presence offers a rich resource to us as we to dare to dream, to be creative, to use this time well so that we all can respond with courage to the Cry of Earth and the Cry of the Poor.
For further information on Mercy Global Presence, please click here.
Sheila Curran rsm
Congregational Co-Ordinator for Mercy Global Presence