Who are they:
Sisters of Mercy are an organisation started by the foundress Catherine McAuley in 1831 in Dublin Ireland. In 2018 the institute had approximately 6200 sisters worldwide, who strived towards women and children’s lives and dedicated her time and inheritance to build a home for women and children. Sisters of this foundation are called to reach out to everyone and preached about God to the people, care for them, provide people with education and welfare, worked in healthcare and do churchly services.
What is their daily schedule like:
Their daily schedules are different. They all pray yet none of them has the exact same schedule because they do different jobs in the community like educators, preachers, care for the sick, elderly, those in prison etc. Some young nuns (novices) have to study. All do household jobs, some clean, cook, garden, wash and iron.
Where are they located:
Sisters of Mercy are now located in Ireland, America, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Great Britain and the Philippines.
When was it established:
On December 1831 the twelfth, Dublin Ireland Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle, and Mary Elizabeth Harley gave religious vows as the first Sisters of Mercy, creating the foundation.
However, the main foundress was Catherine McAuley who was extremely devoted to her mission and role in the community. Helping those you are less fortunate.
How do they make a difference in the community:
The Sisters of Mercy make a difference in the community by doing what they thought was right and what they thought God wanted them to do, such as education and helping others and their lives.
What is the key message of the founder:
Catherine’s main message was to connect those who are rich with those who are poor.
The key message that Catherine McAuley left with the Sisters Of Mercy Foundation is to preach about God and the Gospel, go out in the community and help others, serve others like Jesus did, be apart of social justice and give their concerns to the Catholic church and to never say that’s enough. As well as doing a mixture of Corporal Works of Mercy and Spiritual Works of Mercy
What is their advice:
To be selfless to those in need and to commit your life to helping others even if it’s a small gesture.
What is the significance of their founder:
The significance of Catherine McAuley is the devotion to provide a consubstantial life for the poor and less fortunate. With her own inheritance she built a home for the poor and in order to keep the home, she made an organisation which cares for those who can’t be cared for and give a future to the futureless with education and care. Even though some people were against her compassion and love for her religion, Christianity.
What is their charism:
Sisters of Mercy aim to live both spiritual lives and service lives. Their spiritual life consists of prayers and masses to heal and help souls of others in the outer community as well as doing churchly services and preaching about God and the Bible. Sisters of Mercy live service lives by giving education to children and others who need it, helping care for others and assisting them with welfare.
The Sisters of Mercy pray and attend masses even if their mission is to serve others.
The Sisters of Mercy beliefs are centred around the core values which are inspired by Jesus and Catherine McAuley. They believe if they devote their life to allow Jesus to leads them, the Gospel to guide them and Catherine McAuley spirit to strengthen them to can live the life of merciful actions, prayer and service. This means they take a vow of service to perform work of mercy to those that suffer specifically Spiritual and Corporal(charitable actions) works of Mercy.
Actions to help others:
The monastery calls to action to help others who are suffering by:
educating poor children and some adults; providing shelter for the homeless; water and food for the hungry; help the sick and provide welfare in order to give a more promising future to those who can’t help themselves. This is their “corporal works of mercy such as feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead”.
Sisters of Mercy organisation used to wear a black and white habit and the mercy cross, however, some still wear the habit and it can come in a blue colour. The uniform now is more freeing they can wear suitable civvies (ordinary clothing) and must wear the mercy cross even if it is a pin on their outfit or as a necklace. Some choose to wear a veil (headpiece) and ordinary clothing with the mercy cross often on their heart of left collar.
The symbols which are portrayed as prominent is the Mercy cross.
which challenges Sisters of Mercy, to a deeper awareness of the mystery of death and resurrection in God’s plan of redemption. It constantly says to us how infinitely great is God’s mercy.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Sisters of Mercy share all the gifts of the Holy Spirit especially, courage, understanding, knowledge and fear of the Lord. Although these are their stronger gifts of the Holy Spirit they show all of them.
Sisters of Mercy show courage by standing up for others, helping them and even going to prisons because they believe everyone should be helped especially the troubled.
They show knowledge by recognizing God’s purpose for their missions and why they do them to assist others.
Sisters of Mercy show The fear of the Lord by teaching and knowing what God has created, what his message was to the apostles and disciples and the Sisters going out and preaching to the public.
They show Understanding by going to mass and praying, as well as knowing/understanding some of the obstacles people faced.
Sisters of Mercy show Reverence by praying and being respectful to everyone even if they don’t agree with what they’re doing or their opinion.
They show Right Judgment by knowing what is right for others and helping them rather than not assisting anyone. The Sisters of Mercy also have a lot of compassion in their mission and never judge anyone.
Sisters of Mercy show Wisdom by seeing how their ‘sisters’, ‘brothers’ and even children aid others. The see God working through everyone even if it’s the little things to succour someone.
What has stayed the same since the Religious Order began:
Sister of Mercy foundation has the same values and belief which is to show compassion to those that suffer most in a non-judging way. Their values are still inspired by Jesus and Catherine McAuley.They strive to give a better life to women, children, prisoners and generally anyone who can not help themselves economically, socially or physically. The sisters of Mercy still take a vow of service and live in small communal places where they still live and pray together. Their symbol is still the mercy cross and is to wear it in some shape or form.
What has changed about the Religious Order since they began:
With a decrease in numbers of young women entering the convent of Mercy, now a lot of lay people (people not a nun) are paid to help the Sisters of Mercy at their centres in administration or acts of service. The size of organizations has increased to many more countries around the world. This means the works of the Sisters of Mercy are now able to help so many people around the world.
Their dress code (habit) has changed. Now the most sisters no longer were a nun’s habit, (dress or headpiece) but more comfortable clothes.
In conclusion, I admire the missions and service that the Sisters of Mercy do and have done over the years. I feel, if Catherine McAuley was here today, she’d be proud to know not only her sisters are making an impact but everyone working for this wonderful Catholic organisation.
One of my favourite McAuley quotes is “The poor need help today, not next week.” which I interpret as her way of saying don’t just watch those not necessarily poor, but those who are suffering by illness, welfare, homeless, families in debt, poor in spirit. This quote emphasises how we need to help them now, do something about it now, not just wait and let other people help the suffering but taking action. Another special quote by McAuley “We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us” I feel this quote is telling us to be good leaders, for example leading a just life, following Jesus’ Way and helping those who most need our mercy in a non-judging way.