The beauty of community can be recognised when we gather together and share. This was certainly the case last Thursday when we celebrated Mercy Day at our Coolock Campus. We were delighted to welcome representatives of the Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Education who joined our students, parents and staff to mark the day.
We began with a student-led liturgy, the formal part of the day, when we could think and reflect a little. When we could consider how this College came into existence, why it thrives and how it impels us to act as individuals and as a community.
What is it we share?
What is it that we have in common that we share?
How does it make a difference?
How does it guide you and us as a community?
The work and legacy of Sr Aloysius Martyn and the pioneering Sisters who founded our community will be acknowledged in the coming months, with our new building to be named the Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre in memory of our foundress.
You can only imagine what Aloysius Martyn’s thoughts were when she was told that she was leaving Swinford in Ireland and heading to Australia, to a place called Sandhurst in the new State of Victoria – the land of the Gold Rush, to the colonies, to start a new community in a new diocese with a new bishop. She was a member of a relatively new order of sisters and life was tough, but their community endured the hardship and thrived. Imagine how much trust and faith these Sisters must have had.
When we think of the challenges we face today they may seem pretty tame in comparison, but that is not fair to say. Our challenges are different, but just as real. The key to the Sisters’ success and survival was how they managed hardship. They relied on their faith and the values on which Catherine McAuley founded the Mercy Order.
Hospitality, compassion, justice, respect, courage, service – and community. The Sisters demonstrated all these values, which are just as important and relevant today.
A recent review of the media clearly outlined that the most popular media platforms are predominantly negative and critical. Media agencies deliberately create news that will create fear and anger. The top items on their agenda are racism, discrimination and failure. These platforms are not trying to present positive news or build community. We are being programmed to judge and belittle. How often do they highlight community service or success?
When Catherine was in Dublin she saw the poverty around her when others did not. Why was that and how can we follow her example?
Mercy Day, is about compassion… taking time to think of those in our community and beyond who need our care. We tend to think of those who geographically removed from us. This week we rightly think of those who are enduring hurricane and typhoons or war in Syria and Yemen. However, we must also notice those who are suffering in so many different ways right here – physical illness or social, emotional and mental health issues. The reality is we all suffer; that is life, that is the human condition. BUT, many suffer in isolation, in loneliness and in shame and don’t share with friends and community because it isn’t cool or for fear of being judged. We tend to choose to be passive bystanders – we know that we could do or say something, but that is a risk. We must decide which platform we will sit on. Will we conform and judge, or will we be strong and acknowledge others?
Following the liturgy, we presented Mercy Day Awards, which recognise students and staff who have displayed the Mercy Education Values in their contribution to our College community. These people take the risk, along with the many others who were nominated for these awards. They are braver than many of us. I commend those who have the humility to recognise the needs and contributions of others.
We have ever confided largely in Divine Providence and shall continue to do so.
In providence and our values we trust. If we have something on which to base our lives, then we have something to help us overcome the hurdles of life. We all need values that matter to guide us. These values and virtues are ancient and have guided so many throughout history. So, when you are suffering hardship, remember Catherine’s quote, trust in divine providence and the Mercy values. And, like Catherine, always take time to notice those around you – you need them and they need you.
Celebrating Mercy Day together as a community was a fun and fitting end to Term 3. Enjoy a safe and happy holiday.
Brian Turner, Principal