Memories of the day include the happy reunions among us as we spotted Sisters we had known for many years from the Union and Institute and the sense of ‘being together in Mercy’ on this special occasion. We were extremely grateful for such a pleasant venue, delicious food and copious ‘comfortable cups’ to sustain us during the day!
Our gathering prayer, beautiful in its simplicity, grounded us and gave us precious moments of quiet after our various journeys from near and far.
A lovely element of surprise occurred when Sister Philomena Bowers, welcoming everyone and setting the scene, introduced a young American woman, Chaundra, who is a practising Quaker. Since our Foundress spent at least 20 years of her life in the Quaker household of Mr and Mrs Callaghan at Coolock, it has always been assumed that Catherine must have been influenced by the couple’s love of Scripture and their practice of ‘the prayer of quiet’. For a few minutes Chaundra gave us very interesting insights into Quaker history, spirituality and commitment to a living faith which bears fruit in good works. It was easy to make the connection with Catherine McAuley and her own living faith expressed in the Works of Mercy. Our common heritage with Quakers lies in our call to a balance between prayer and service – one flowing from the other as Catherine herself taught.
For the rest of the morning session, Sister Brenda Dolphin RSM inspired us with her reflections on Catherine – speaking of Catherine’s lived example of what Pope Francis calls ‘everyday holiness’ and inviting us to rejoice in our own efforts to make a difference in ‘small, daily, ordinary ways’ which is where real holiness lies.
Brenda also reminded us that when we are downhearted at our weaknesses and failures, we can take heart from Catherine’s knowledge and experience of her own shortcomings and temperament! Brenda invited us at this stage in our lives individually and together, to consider simply ‘doing what we can with what we have at our disposal’ as Catherine did in her day.
In the afternoon session we learned the history of the Cause for Catherine’s Beatification. It was good to hear news about favours granted and a possible miraculous cure of a child. Brenda explained the processes which she and those working with her must follow in submitting ‘the positio’ on Catherine to Rome. Whether or not we support the call for Canonisation, we can rejoice in the gift to us, to the Church and the world that Catherine McAuley was and continues to be and commit ourselves to making her and God’s merciful love known wherever Providence places us.
Congratulations and sincere thanks to the Sisters on the joint Union/Institute Commission for the Cause of Catherine’s Canonisation for providing this special Day.