Why Mercy Associates?
Catherine’s Original Intention
Catherine McAuley established the Sisters of Mercy in 1831. She did not set out to found a religious congregation. She wished to draw other women about her to do something practical, to help cope with poverty, spiritual needs, lack of education and the lack of opportunity for the women and children of her day.
Catherine lived as a lay woman for the greater part of her life. As a lay person she gathered others around her and shared her vision and idealism with them. With the help of two companions she opened a house for homeless girls in Baggot Street. She was so confident of their competence and so humanly concerned for her own sick sister, Mary, that she did not move into Baggot Street for eight months after it had opened.
So, Catherine did not form a religious community until she was in her fifties. It was only when, in order to ensure the continuity of her work among the poor, that she and two of her friends became vowed religious.
Today, when lay women and men are taking a much more active part both within and outside the Church Catherine’s life story is even more relevant.
We now have the opportunity to do what Catherine wanted to do.
In the summer of 1994 and 1995, there was a strong recommendation from Mercy Sisters in Ireland to form Mercy Associates in response to the call for greater collaboration with the laity expressed in Vatican II.
A New Movement Of The Spirit
In January 1998 we put the idea of Mercy Associates to a cross section of lay people and sisters across the Province. Their enthusiasm and realism had a profound effect in encouraging us to go forward .
In this new movement of the Spirit we hope to affirm and support the many women and men who have the gift of compassion and who wish to express it as Mercy Associates.
Desire For Prayer And Spirituality
Today and in the future we have an opportunity together as associates and sisters to answer in a fresh way our baptismal call to holiness and the contemporary need for prayer and spirituality which seeks to express itself in care and concern for others.
Passing On A Heritage
The charism of mercy as embodied in Catherine McAuley is a rich heritage. Catherine is remarkable for the manner in which she expressed ordinary virtues in her daily life. What was said of her shortly after her death could be said of many faithful women and men; “she was convinced that God required her to make some lasting efforts for the relief of suffering”
What Do These Men And Women Do?
Associates commit themselves to:
• Pray regularly .
• Seek an understanding of the charism of mercy and compassion through prayer and reflection on the Gospel, and the life of Catherine.
• Promote the values of justice and compassion particularly in their homes, communities and places of work, or through a specific work or project.
• Attend regular meetings.
• Together seek new ways of being merciful for the 21st century.
Mercy Associates make a commitment for one year, which can be renewed annually.
While maintaining an independent lifestyle, each Associate extends the mission of mercy in the spirit of Catherine McAuley.
The Associate agreement is not binding legally or in any other manner on any of the parties involved.
If you are interested in becoming a Mercy Associate please contact the Provincial Office, Naas at 045 876784. You will then be referred to the branch of Associates nearest to you.