Pilgrimage for Young Mercy Leaders Inspires, Educates
By Isaac Garcia, Institute Communications Office
“Breathtaking,” Maitland T. said of her experience at last month’s Young Mercy Leaders Pilgrimage in Dublin. With a program focused on sharing the Mercy spirit and charism, the students felt a commonality during the Pilgrimage from the very beginning. “There was such an overflow of enthusiasm and energy,” Mary B. shared, “[that] we all became friends so quickly.”
This special bond was felt and appreciated by others on the pilgrimage. “There were so many inspiring thoughts … from the stories told and the smiles shared,” Mandy M. said (see DAILY SYNOPSIS below for a recap each day).
CONTEMPLATION AND ACTION
Being around the Sisters of Mercy shaped the students as they experienced firsthand the sisters’ spirituality through prayer and contemplation. The daily prayer services “were relaxing and peaceful and gave me a lot of time to reflect and think,” Maitland shared.
Additionally, students were given time to journal throughout the pilgrimage and encouraged to think concretely about how to put what they learned and experienced in Dublin into action back home. For many, the stories shared by the Sisters helped inspire and direct this reflection. “Seeing how [the sisters] live out Catherine’s mission in their lives through service towards others was so amazing to witness,” said Mary. “I know that I want a large and beautiful heart like all of theirs some day!”
The daily keynotes and workshops served as a formational part of each student’s experience. A common takeaway from these educational moments was the importance of compassion toward those in need: “If we can have a concern for the world, it will be a life worth living,” Mandy reflected. Mary echoed these remarks: “I really hope to open my heart up to others.”
Summarizing how she felt at the end, Maitland felt called to be aware of the people around her, especially those on the periphery: “[I feel called to be] more vigilant, to open my mind even more and even reach out to those I usually shied away from. I want to show people the true spirit of the Mercy Sisters I got to see for myself.”
Day 1 started with the gathering of over 100 participants from 5 countries and focused on welcoming the high school students, their entering the pilgrimage and the relevance of Catherine and Mercy to high school students in 2013.
Day 2 featured an enrapturing keynote from Sister Karen Schneider on the work of Mercy in countries such as post-earthquake Haiti, Peru and Kenya. Karen challenged the pilgrims, saying “Mercy is a choice, a decision that is made which makes a difference to someone else’s life.”
Day 3 emphasized the role of telling the Good News of Jesus Christ through the lens of Mercy and our daily lives. Sister Adele Howard emphasized the need to express the story through modern communication technology.
Day 4 concentrated on going forth from the pilgrimage back into the world. The young people were invited to reflect on how they were going to share the charism of Mercy back home and encouraged to think concretely.
Plans are underway for next summer’s Young Mercy Leaders Pilgrimage, in which college-aged students will be invited to Ireland for a similar experience geared towards young adults. More information will be posted on the Mercy International Association website in the fall.
Maitland, Mandy, and Mary attend Mercy High School, Omaha, NE. Other participants in Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Secondary Schools came from Saint Catherine Academy, Belize City, Belize, Mercy High School, Middletown, CT, and Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, NJ.