Associate Day May 2017
On Saturday May 13th Associates from Alnwick, North Shields, Newcastle and six members of the National Commission gathered at St Cuthbert’s North Shields for the Third Mercy Associate Regional Gathering of 2017.

At 10.30am Associates processed to the chapel, some carrying Mercy symbols which provided the focus for Morning Prayer.

The theme for the day was, The 8th Work of Mercy: Caring for the Earth; the ‘new’ Work of Mercy which Pope Francis expands on in his Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ (2016). “As a spiritual work of mercy, care for our common home calls for a grateful contemplation of God’s world ……..as a corporal work of mercy, care for our common home requires simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness and makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world” (Laudato Si)

In addressing the theme our speaker, Sister Kathleen Gooch, asked:
• How are we caring for the Earth & do we need to do more?
• How did Catherine McAuley respond to this ‘new’ work of    mercy way back in 19th Century Dublin?
• How does Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, speak to us and challenge us?

After this introduction we expected to hear how we must get busy, be more active, more involved in caring for God’s Creation and His Creatures, in particular the poor and disadvantaged but, to our surprise, Sr. Kathleen started with Our Shoes!! “Why did you decide to wear those shoes today; are they comfortable, see if you can walk in your neighbour’s shoes; do you like to ‘kick’ off your shoes sometime and how does that feel?” After this simple exercise of talking about shoes we all agreed that, although there are times when we need to be in ‘active’ mode, ‘Shoes On’ time, we also need ‘Shoes Off’ time, when we can ‘kick’ off our shoes to relax, rest and refresh ourselves, physically and spiritually. It is often in our ‘Shoes Off’ time that God speaks to us; refreshing and energising us for our ‘Shoes On’ time when we are actively involved in our daily tasks.
Sr. Kathleen emphasised the importance of this with a passage from Exodus 3:v1-6 (the Burning Bush). “Moses was in active mode or ‘shoes on’ time, minding his sheep. He was drawn away from his activity; he was caught up with ‘shoes off’ experience and called to encounter God. In the ordinary of the burning bush, dwells the divine. In our busy lives this story can teach us so much about God in everything, every place, every person, in the unexpected. All we have to do is open ourselves to the experience. Then, like Moses we will be with our God, as a friend with whom we can be at ease and find coping mechanisms which we never thought we had”…