Every other year, the Sisters of Mercy host their International Mercy Leadership Conference in the original home of Catherine McAuley on Bagot Street in Dublin. This year, Salve Regina sent several students to the conference, advertising the opportunity to those involved in Mercy activities such as Mercy in Motion and Sigma Phi Sigma. Sarah Johnson, 17, Gabrielle Kubba, 18, Caroline Kelley, 18, Campus Minister Mathew Kelly and I traveled to Dublin this past August.
The conference ran for one week and focused heavily on addressing the five critical concerns of Mercy. Each day, attendees partook in workshops. Sisters and involved citizens led discussions on trafficking of young women, Mercy Volunteer Corps involvement, UN Environmental initiatives, and more. The Sisters also shared their personal experiences in living out the Mercy Mission.
One Sister gave a detailed account of the years she spent living in Peru. Her recount of her time abroad was both inspiring and entertaining to hear. Though her travels were immensely exploratory, she did not travel to Peru for the adventure. She and her Sisters travel abroad and around Ireland as service leaders, a tradition that is honored at Salve Regina University and has not changed since the example of Catherine McAuley.
During her life, Catherine McAuley educated 200 young girls in need of an education in the main room of her home each day, a room today used for the conference. The room adjacent to this renovated classroom is one that remains in its original form and with its original furnishings: the bedroom of Catherine McAuley, the room in which she eventually passed away. She lived where she worked. She saw to no distinction in her personal and professional life. Her life and her legacy is service leadership.
Service leadership sits at the core of the Mercy mission, and it is a mission of service that has grown and expanded since its foundation. Interactive world maps line the walls of the conference room on Bagot Street. A dot marks each location that the Sisters of Mercy have programs, send volunteers, and do service work. These locations number over 40 countries, including North America, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia. The Sisters’ candid recounts of their service across these continents and regions reinforced their adaptive commitment to global mission and inspired attendees towards involvement in local and global communities.
More than simply a pilgrimage to the home of Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland, the conference instilled a better academic understanding of the critical concerns of Mercy, inspired activism, and revealed the Mercy mission as a strong, global effort. My colleagues and I attended the conference at the perfect time, during the Jubilee year of Mercy. After the caseation of the Jubilee year of Mercy this November, the need for a Mercy agenda to continue will be just as strong going into the start of the New Year.
– Julia Morisi