In our last Charism Corner, I indicated that the Sisters of Mercy’s Seventh Institute Chapter (April 2023) called us to “renew our understanding of our Mercy charism to foster growth of communities of belonging.” I believe this is a call to our schools who so intentionally are developing communities of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). We are blessed in our Mercy ministries to have something to help us in this growth: charism.
Both our chapter and Pope Francis point to a “culture of encounter” as an integral part of Mercy as we attempt to grow as a community of belonging. Francis recognizes that the encounter with another is an encounter with Jesus. Catherine McAuley was animated by Jesus’ encounters with the other and chose to imitate those encounters in her life and in the life of the early Mercy community.
How do we truly “encounter” every member of our school community? How do we assure that every student, faculty and staff member, and parent feels a sense of belonging in our Mercy school community? We do it through our experience of recognizing that an encounter with another is an encounter with God. If God is truly present in everyone, then God is reaching out to us through that person.
Our works are grounded in the “wellspring of the Works of Mercy.” Jesus proclaims, “Whatever you do to the least of my sisters or brothers you do to me.” This is the basis of Mercy charism. The call to encounter the other, the basis of developing a community of belonging, is rooted in the Works of Mercy.
This is the fifth installment in the “Charism Corner” series written by Sister Regina Ward, RSM, Associate Director for Mission for Mercy Education. Catch up on all the columns here.