This is the third installment in the “Charism Corner” series that will appear monthly in Flash, written by Sister Regina Ward, RSM, Associate Director for Mission for Mercy Education. The series focuses on our Mercy charism and how we can express it within our school communities. Read the first two installments here.
Charism is a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit for building up the body of Christ. Gifted with the charism of Mercy, Catherine McAuley went out to serve people in Dublin who were poor and marginalized, especially women and children. Her actions reflect the Works of Mercy, which call us to be more like Jesus.
Catherine recognized that for the Sisters of Mercy and their ministries, the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy should be the business of their lives. She wrote, “We ought then to have great confidence in God in the discharge of all these offices of Mercy, spiritual and corporal, which constitute the business of our lives…” Catherine organized the daily schedule of the sisters around action and contemplation, recognizing God’s presence not only in prayer but also in faces of those they helped.
Just as Catherine responded to the needs of her time, today Sisters of Mercy respond to the needs of our time. The Works of Mercy are the foundation of the five Critical Concerns that were named in 2005 by the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: Earth, Immigration, Nonviolence, Racism and Women. Sisters, Mercy Associates, Companions in Mercy, Mercy volunteers and co-ministers have embraced these Critical Concerns in their ministries and lives.
In our Mercy schools, we encourage the integration of the Critical Concerns and the Works of Mercy into the life of the school, including curriculum and co-curricular activities. Consistent integration enables the Critical Concerns to become a part of the students’ lifestyle. When they graduate, they are equipped to serve a vulnerable world. The integration also makes them receptive to receiving and activating the same gift of charism that has been embraced by Sisters of Mercy and all those walking in the path of Mercy.
The Critical Concerns, then, are not synonymous with our Mercy charism; rather, they are one conduit for living Mercy through service to and advocacy for those in need.
This article was originally published in Flash, the weekly e-newsletter of Mercy Education. Subscribe here.