By Sandra Lupi rsm
In 2005, the congregation leaders of the Sisters of Mercy of Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane met to discuss future sponsorship options for their institutional ministries.
We had already made the transition to lay leadership in many of our ministries and we wanted to honour the call of the Second Vatican Council to provide a vehicle for true lay leadership in the Church.
This emphasis on enabling lay leadership at all levels of Catholic ministry comes through strongly in the original Statement of Vision and Intent that we wrote in 2006.
It was this vision that inspired us as the ongoing meetings and discussions continued over four years.
As one leader commented, “it was a visionary step, not just a practical response to a need.”
The hope was “to see our ministries…flourish in the name of Jesus and remain true to the vision of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy who founded and developed them.”
We did not restrict our vision just to our own congregations for we envisioned a structure flexible enough to include other religious congregations with similar vision and purpose.
While collaboration was originally a strategy for addressing future sponsorship, it became a source of enthusiasm and hope, a promise that it could be done.
In November 2008, Mercy Partners was approved by the Holy See as a Public Juridic Person (PJP), giving it a canonical – legal- status within the Catholic Church.
Formation of leaders is a critical element in the role of Mercy Partners and we have gone from strength to strength with our formation programs.
The publication of the Mercy Partners Theological Framework in 2017 provides a theological basis for a communion of charisms working together to realise God’s Mercy in the world.
It will guide policy formation and formation programming at a ministry level, and help with the articulation of a new way of being Church in Australia.
Being a founding member of Mercy Partners has been one of the most significant experiences of my life as a Sister of Mercy.
I have learned so much from the actual process of discerning a possible future for our ministries, the collaboration with other Sisters of Mercy as well as other congregations, the working in partnership with council members and ministry leaders.
After 12 years direct involvement with Mercy Partners it is time for me to move on and allow others to take us into the future.
Thank you to all of you who have been part of my journey within Mercy Partners.
My prayer for you is that you may experience Mercy as expressed in the words of Pope Francis:
“Mercy is the force that re-awakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
The Catholic Leader – November 12, 2017