I’m writing this on April the 8th 2016, on the eve of the April 9th Anniversary celebrating 166 years of the Sisters of Mercy in Aotearoa. Rather than repeat dates, figures and statistics, I’ll let Mary Curran (Principal of St Catherine’s College Wellington) talk about how Mercy is a living thing within the next generation.
“In 2013 the Sisters sent me to Dublin, which was a very worthwhile experience. I came from a Marist background and going to Baggot Street really helped to inculturate me. It was an extremely powerful experience, I was able to understand the history and culture behind Mercy- its context. Through this deep understanding that I carry that on my shoulders, it’s a big part of my job: to ensure that the values Catherine McAuley started are very much part of St Catherine’s College. The strategic plan, the annual plan, the department reviews, everything starts with Catholic Character and Mercy. Everything we do is outlined through that and I make my decisions around that. All our documentation is Mercy first”.
“When I enrol a girl, I make sure she realises we are a Mercy College. We take 5 core Mercy values and we celebrate one every year. We look at scripture, we look at what Catherine did – my assemblies will start with that. I want the students to soak it all in so they can understand it fully through what Catherine did. We also have a display at the assembly of walking boots (my old boots), a China cup and saucer, a shawl, a cross and our Mercy candle. At every official function we have this display so that the girls will be able to tell you what each item is associated with. This also goes into the orientation of all our new staff”.
“This year we’re not taking one of the values, we’re focusing on the Year of Mercy. We had six staff and three students at the reflection “Te Huarahi Mahara Atawhai o Te Ao, The Mercy International Reflection Process” which was held on 26th and 27th of February 2016. It was facilitated by Sisters Teresa Anderson, Natalie Murphy and Kathleen Rushton at the Te Wāhanga Atawhai Mercy Conference Centre in Thorndon, Wellington. The Process consists of four parts. Firstly, participants formed groups where they shared a story/experience/issue concerning “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the Poor”. Then secondly, all the participants chose one key concern to carry forward. Thirdly, they shared with their group a story/experience/issue, they deepened this issue by engaging with the biblical, theological, spiritual, and Mercy wisdom sources to enable a new vision to emerge. In the Fourth stage they planned a new action to bring about change. “Out of that Reflection Process I made an action plan” Mary continues. “We’ve just finished taking the staff through this process. They in turn are working with their Whanau groups, their form groups. Each Whanau group will come out with an action. All of Term 2 they have to plan the action, work out what they’re going to do. Then on Mission Day, which will be the last week of term 2, they have to do the Action around their environmental issue. All of Term 3 they will be planning how they’ll be sharing this back to us in our Mercy Week. I’ve told them I don’t want a Powerpoint, I want a dance, I want art, I want you to demonstrate what you learned and what you did to support the Year of Mercy at St Catherine’s College”.
Below is a resource you can download for the April 9th anniversary of the Sisters of Mercy coming to Aotearoa:
166 Years of Mercy in Aotearoa