A Visit with Catherine

September 21, 2016

By Sister Judy Carle

mercy grads at Mercy International centreWe all know that a Mercy education is priceless. But every once in a while we get to see its life-shaping effects. Such was a day in my four-month opportunity to be a member of the program staff at Mercy International Centre in Dublin, Ireland—also known as Catherine’s House, the first House of Mercy built by Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, in response to the needs of the poor in Dublin.

Six recent graduates from Mercy High School Burlingame in California were visiting Dublin. I did not know them, but we greeted each other as long lost friends and gladdened in our Mercy roots. They had only one day in Dublin and a very short time to see the house that Catherine built. So I rushed them through, rapidly commenting on Catherine’s story. In the room where Catherine died, we paused for reflection. As I began Catherine’s Suscipe prayer, expecting to be a lone voice, I was overwhelmed as seven strong voices joined me—they knew her prayer and had said it often!  

One of the students, Maggie Grogan, shared the letter below about the experience. All you Mercy educators, take heart! Our students walk into the world with a precious heritage.
July 30, 2016

To: Karen Hanrahan,
Head of School, Mercy High School, Burlingame, California

Dear Mrs. Hanrahan,

A few days ago I returned from a trip to Ireland that I took with my best friends Hannah Lahey, Layla Mustafa, Ciara Callanan, Ally Ick and Kendall Gordon. We spent a day in Dublin and on that day decided it would be best to stop by the Mercy International Center, as it was only a few blocks away from our bus stop. We rang the doorbell and told the sister who greeted us that we had just graduated from Mercy Burlingame and were wondering if we could take a look around. We were welcomed in, and all of the sisters were very excited to have students visiting, and one sister who had been there for four months was a sister from Burlingame [Sister Judy Carle]. She brought us to the room where Catherine McCauley passed away, and together the seven of us prayed her Suscipe prayer. It was an incredibly moving experience and we brought Sister to tears. We later said a prayer at Catherine’s grave and saw the first-ever Mercy classroom where we met three more sisters who sang the Suscipe to us in Swahili.

I just wanted to share this experience with you because in the short 40 minutes that I was in the Mercy Centre. I felt the most Mercy that I ever have. I was able to see for myself that Mercy is a global community and that just by being a student of Mercy [Burlingame] I have a connection with countless women around the world. I am grateful that I was able to go to the Centre with just my best friends because Mercy is what connects us together. I know that as I continue to grow I will experience Mercy in more ways, and as I continue to learn about myself I will always appreciate that Mercy is a part of me and has shaped who I am.


Maggie Grogan
Class of 2016

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  1. Suzanne Ryder

    What a beautiful story to read, especially during this Year of Mercy. So many lessons can be learned through it but the most important one for me is that of opening the door. It is always Christ who knocks!

  2. Cynthia

    This is such a wonderful story. I love how people of Mercy “recognize” each other immediately, no matter where we meet, and we greet one another with the affection that Catherine has modeled for us. Thank you, Judy, for sharing the story. And thanks to Maggie as well.

  3. mary stanton

    I loved reading this, Judy! Thanks for sharing. Perfect Mercy Day gift – Mercy keeps on giving and the young women here are beautiful examples.

  4. Peggy Costa

    Every time I think there cannot be one more “Mercy Surprise” to light the way … something like this jars me awake!!! I can just see, hear, and feel those graced moments in Catherine’s house. Thank you, Judy, for sharing this privileged moment in mercy!

  5. Jean-Marie Gorman, RSM

    Thank you so much for sharing this letter! It is so refreshing and renews my faith in the Mercy Charism. I am happy that the students had such a positive experience. We need to share more of these stories!

  6. Jean Evans

    Her Spirit is alive and active. Thanks be to God!