Care of the earth, care of the poor – eight words to remind us of our calling to be Mercy.

baggot street group

The Mercy Leadership Program & Dublin Pilgrimage offers Ministry Board Directors and senior staff the opportunity for an in depth formation program, allowing time, space and experiences to explore their role as contemporary Mercy ministry leaders.

This year there were 52 participants over two programs: 12 Sisters of Mercy and 40 lay ministry leaders. In this year of Jubilee of Mercy, the participants were especially invited to enter deeply into the experience as pilgrims.

The program was conducted over three modules: an orientation module providing background, context and opportunities to prepare for the pilgrimage in Dublin; a six day leadership program and pilgrimage based at the House of Mercy in Dublin; a third module offering the opportunity for reflection and integration.

The program in Dublin began with a welcome ritual at the iconic red (Holy) door reminding each person present of the importance of understanding the ‘threshold’ moments that invite us to review our relationships with God, others and the entire created order as the first step to becoming a more merciful presence in the world.

Our days in Dublin were filled with inspiring and challenging moments as we explored the story of Catherine McAuley and the early women of Mercy, through rich presentations by the team at Mercy International and in action, walking the streets of Dublin and visiting the places sacred in our Mercy story. Our day in the Wicklow Mountains at Glendalough afforded time and space for a further pilgrim walk experiencing the beauty and wonder of nature and the elements and learning the sacred story in a new way through our connection to the earth.

Presenters such as Mary Reynolds RSM, Breege O’Neill RSM and Maria McGuiness RSM helped us to understand the gift of Catherine’s example of mission to the poor and how her leadership challenges us to hear and see the poor and to courageously and prophetically lead in Mercy. One of the participants reflected: ‘I felt the aliveness of Mercy today and hope for tomorrow amidst the confronting fact that there is still so much to do for the poor.’


In 2016 participants came from a wide variety of ISMAPNG ministries including the areas of education, health and aged care, community services, community development, ministry support and governance. We were blessed to also be joined by participants from the ministries of the Sisters of Mercy of North Sydney, Parramatta and Brisbane.  Each of the participants is taking up a project that will integrate their learnings and allow the fruits of their experience to enrich the ministries they are connected to.  Though at times the task seems overwhelming, we are encouraged by Mary Reynold’s words to ‘take the next best step’ for the poor.


Carmel Crawford, Institute Mercy Ethos Coordinator.

Note: over the coming weeks we will feature a series of reflections from this year’s participants.