Mercy Global Presence is a widely visionary and positively powerful resource. The gratuitous manner, in which it is freely available on the World Wide Web tells a story of Mercy generosity, in sharing good news and comprehensive analysis. When we, Kathleen and Suzanne, were invited by our Provincial Leadership Team to bring MGP to the notice of our Western Province, so that we all might engage more deeply with this fine resource, the invitation came as a precious gift. This gift keeps on giving as we explore further into its boundless depths. There was no template proposed. Perhaps it was the delight in the welcome invitation, or the quiet confidence displayed by all, that somehow, the leader of the venture was soon revealed to be the Holy Spirit.
We decided from the beginning that we would start every meeting, be it face-to-face or by Zoom, with a time of silence. This contemplative approach opened the process into a graceful, wondrous flaring forth.
Some of those who gathered in Knock House Hotel
We began with an idea to hold two conference days. Just as all was in place for what promised to be exciting, informative, participatory events, COVID-19 called a halt. We then decided to call a meeting of community leaders in Knock House Hotel. A simple text from one Sister was to open our mindset considerably, as she wondered who was invited to the meeting. This led to a Spirit-led recognition of groups in the Province who are in positions of wider influence. Invitations were offered and the ensuing meeting explored MGP, considered our practical reality, and looked at realistic ways to share MGP.
Volunteers writing a letter to the Province following this meeting in Knock House Hotel
From the beginning, we made ourselves available to any community group desiring further guidance in using the resource. It was our joy to participate in this exploration, and to discover that many Sisters were already engaging with MGP. We also explored communication with coordinators of Transition Year students in our second level schools. A meeting with two teachers in one school made for exciting and fruitful conversation. They saw great possibilities in using these resources and maybe building a Transition Year Module around some of the MGP themes. One was delighted to be invited to access and use these resources. The second teaches Religion and has responsibility for the John Paul awards in the school. She was interested in basing the project being planned, on one of the MGP themes.
Kathleen speaks with the Sisters in Árd Bhríde
All this time has been interspersed with moments of surprise, within and outside of Mercy membership. A request to develop a prayer-centred reflection on MGP, led to a PowerPoint that has been shared widely. One conversation led to an extensive exploration of Mercy Global Presence with someone who is now using the artistic pieces in her work.
COVID-19 might seem to overshadow all this invigorating activity. Now, we wondered what approach would be appropriate? Again, the Spirit led, and we felt called to invite a number of people to participate in a virtual reflection group around MGP. The group consists of a mix of ten people, some vowed religious, one man, and one living outside Ireland. We continue the practice of beginning each meeting with a short time of silence. We meet by Zoom every three weeks, having agreed beforehand which theme we will explore. This exploration is usually free-form in nature, as each one finds what speaks most clearly to her/him; there is always wonder and appreciation expressed at the extent and depth of this resource.
The clear introductions from Sister Elizabeth Davis are a favourite beginning to each theme, as they tie together the overall focus, what has been explored to date, and what the new theme offers. On one occasion, it was decided to return to a particular theme, so we could read through the Good Reading section more thoroughly, since it contained so much valuable material. And, far from being an onus on these already hard-working folks, one described the meetings as having, “become one of the highlights in the month”. Indeed, it is a highlight for both of us to spend what we might term luxury time in pondering theme after theme, following our natural attractions into this cornucopia of wonder.
You may well have formed a reflection group already, or you may be engaging with it on your own. The link to MGP is www.mercyglobalpresence.org It is a Mercy resource of which we can be immensely proud. A particular reason for joy in our province is that the most recent segment, Presence of/to/with God contains a beautiful article by our own Maura Walsh, in Grassroots Ministry.
Poster for Reflection at Regional Meeting 4
As many of you have discovered, the Global Regional meetings of MGP are another exciting way to ponder the various themes. The above poster is one of the series available on the Website: www.mercyglobalpresence.org. They are also a valuable place to meet and share with others from around the world. Four of these regional meetings have occurred to date, and more are being planned, commencing in Advent.
Whether in a group or on one’s own, this is a journey well worth exploring.
Kathleen Friel rsm & Suzanne Ryder rsm