Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dublin Pilgrimage of Young Mercy Leaders Conference: Day 1

Hi Everybody,

It's Beth and Ashley here talking about our first day of our 3 day Dublin Pilgrimage of Young Mercy Leaders Conference! This Wednesday morning, the GMC group left the Abbey Court Hostel and made our way through the Dublin streets to the Mercy International Centre on Lower Baggot Street. The Mercy International Centre originated when the Sisters of Mercy was created by Catherine McAuley.

We began our conference with an opening ceremony, which highlighted all of the various schools in attendance from different countries around the world. Some of these countries include New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, United States. Each school gave a brief description of their school, and presented at least one symbolic item from their institution or town. Gwynedd-Mercy College presented a mini replica of the Liberty Bell and votive candle holder with Assumption Hall painted upon it. It was a beautiful ceremony, which showed us how truly connected we all are because of our common Mercy bond.

It was great to learn about schools' backgrounds as well. New Zealand's representatives are from the town of Christ Church, which is where a recent earthquake occurred and caused massive destruction. Even though their town was devastated by this earthquake, we were surprised to see how excited they were to be at the conference, almost as if nothing had happened in their town. It was also interesting to see how many hours it took for the students from New Zealand and Australia to arrive in Dublin. It took the people from Australia about 30 total hours of flying to arrive in Dublin! Everyone seems to be very nice, though, no matter what part of the world they are from. It's nice to hear all of the various accents too!

After the opening ceremony everyone listened to a speech about Catherine McAuley's personality, mission, qualities, and ongoing legacy. Then, everyone was participating in different sessions throughout the day. First off, Beth attended two sessions today. The first session was called "What Am I Going to Do with My One Wild and Precious Life?" Students in this session learned to use discernment as a life skill through listening and prayer to discover what we are called to do in our lives. These young pilgrims also learned that vocations mainly come from the heart through prayer, awareness, seeking understanding, and taking action. In order to respond to our vocational callings, we should determine what gives us joy, what are we good at, and what the world needs. The second session Beth attended was called "Are We Human or Are We Dancer?" This title is from The Killers' song called "Are We Human or Are We Dancer?" The session was interactive and allowed students to realize the impact music and dance can have in our lives. We should be free to sing or dance to music because they can both be forms of prayer. In fact, our own lives could be a song or a dance. Even though as human beings our lives can seem choreographed, we should be able to just do freestyle dancing throughout life.

Ashley attended the sessions "Mercy Volunteer Corps" and "Mercy Beyond Borders." The former session, given by our very own Brigid O'Brien, was replete with information about volunteering with MVC after graduation in places in dire need throughout the United States and in Guyana. Volunteering in the States requires a minimum one-year commitment, while Guyana requires two years. "Mercy Beyond Borders" gave discourse on the strong need for help in Sudan, particularly where it comes to healthcare and education for women and children. It was chaired by Sister Marilyn Lacey, author of the memoir This Flowing Toward Me; she was a lively and fascinating speaker who discussed with us the crossing of borders - personally as well as geographically.

After dinner, we had an on-stage theatrical performance called "A Heart Centered in God" which told the story of Catherine McAuley. The entire play is performed by one actress named Lisa Bansavage, and the play's script is written by her husband L.E. McCullough. This play has been performed at GMC before, so it was nice to see the play again in Dublin.

Today has been one of the longest, most interesting, most fascinating, most fulfilling, incredibly full days we've ever had - made twice as incredible by the city in which we reside.

        Here is Ashley speaking to recognize GMC at the Opening Ceremony

--Beth and Ashley

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