Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
Whanau Mercy, Tikanga Mercy:
Ehara taku i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini
My strength is not that of an individual but that of the collective.
This was the whakatauki for the Mercy Leaders’ Summit that I was privileged to attend last week. Most of the 170 NZ based Mercy Sisters, along with leaders from the many Mercy ministries attended.
To begin, we set off from the ferry wharf to symbolically re-enact the arrival in New Zealand of the first Mercy Sisters, who had been led by Sr. Cecilia Maher. Our voyage was chronicled by Denis Horton reading from letters and journals of the sisters written during their seven month voyage from Ireland to New Zealand. We disembarked at Westhaven Marina and walked to the beach where it is believed they landed.
Sr. Katrina Fabish connected our much shorter symbolic voyage to those first sisters: we are a new group of Mercy women, at a point of new arrival, embarking on a new journey for a new time.
Sr. Mary Sullivan further developed this point in her presentation the following day by her emphasis that the Gospel has to be read and made relevant to our current world.
Mercy has always been called to serve the poor, sick and debilitating ignorant. And there are many forms of poor, sick and ignorant in today’s world. While poverty is still persistent in our time, we were asked to consider those who are today’s rich and powerful and, for some of them, their poverty of generosity for those less fortunate. Consider the sickness of those who spread hate via social media and the internet and those who will be wilfully ignorant of the systemic causes of inequality.
As women and men of Mercy, we are obliged to help those who are materially poor, sick and uneducated but we are also obliged to look at the wider social structures that embed this poverty and inequality in our world today and challenge those systems.
‘Mercy is bringing one’s heart to the need of another. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and the individual can by you. All it takes is one good person to restore hope’ Pope Francis.