Reflecting on the Young Mercy Leaders Conference
By Meg, Mercy High School
On August 6th I had the extraordinary opportunity to travel to Ireland with nine of my classmates, my theology teacher, Ms. Laura Forbes, and my campus minister, Ms. Ashley Shrader. The trip was for the Young Mercy Leaders conference, which featured schools from around the globe; Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. It was an absolutely amazing and an unforgettable opportunity. I learned many new, life-changing things and intend to share my experience with my classmates, family, friends, and community.
The conference featured many speakers about various topics such as leadership, the presence of God, and Catherine McAuley. I also attended 5 different sessions on how to enhance my prayer, Mercy Beyond Borders , the millennium goals, global poverty focus, and United Nations. I learned so much at each of the presentations; however the things that really struck me were the presence of God and the focus on global poverty. It really amazed me that God truly is everywhere; we just need to become more welcoming and willing to open our hearts to strangers and surprises. I found that the presence of God links well to the issue of poverty. We have no idea what people go through, being so fortunate. If we opened our hearts up to the people suffering from poverty and disease the world could gradually change and become a better place.
Since everyone came from around the world, I had the opportunity to hear many different accents and opinions. Hearing other peoples’ stories and opinions really impacted the way I look at things and other people. I had no idea what to expect going into this conference, so I went in with an open mind and came out with a changed heart. I look upon people and our Earth with more compassion and courtesy. We had sandwiches, fruit, and chips for dinner each night of the conference and with so many leftovers and passing by homeless people on the streets of Dublin, I thought that it would be nice to share a meal with someone who needed it more than I did.
My classmate, Anne, and I approached a man wrapped in a blanket and carefully set down a sack lunch next to him and simply said “God Bless!” He smiled and waved, and Anne and I felt so great afterwards. I had never done anything like that before, so feeding a homeless man for the first time in Dublin, Ireland is a pretty neat thing. Catherine McAuley was known to help the sick and poor. Visiting where the Sisters of Mercy began and carrying out her mission made the trip complete.
As the conference was coming to a close, we had to get into a group with our school and people wanted to know how we would share what we learned with our communities back home. Mercy High School in Omaha, Nebraska decided to volunteer together. We will also be hosting “A Good Cup of Tea Day” on November 11th to help benefit Mercy International Centre. We will be serving tea and shortbread cookies to our classmates in honor of Catherine McAuley. We have also been keeping in touch with all of the friends we made over the course of our trip.
Having been given the opportunity to experience such a life-altering conference is indescribable. The speakers and new friends are unforgettable and have left an imprint on my heart forever. I hope everyone is given an opportunity to learn more about the trials of our world and is motivated to act upon them. Being a part of the first Young Mercy Leaders Pilgrimage was such an honor. I will never forget this experience and all of the friends I’ve made.
Meg is a Junior at Mercy High School in Nebraska.