Advent Week 1: 175 Years of Mercy Preparing the Way

November 29, 2018

Artwork by Sister Renee Yann, RSM

Artwork by Sister Renee Yann, RSM

By Sister Jane Meuse, RSM

Even before the Sisters of Mercy arrived in North America 175 years ago, our founder Catherine McAuley had been preparing the way for young women in order to instill confidence and self-sufficiency. It began when she taught sewing, lace making, china painting, laundering and cooking skills to young women in order to prepare them for better employment opportunities. The spirit of this work continues today in ministries focused on improving the lives and futures of women and their families.

For the last 175 years, young women, adults and children have been educated by the Sisters of Mercy in schools, parish R.C.I.A (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) programs and sacramental programs nationwide. With a strong foundation, Catherine McAuley believed the people she served could take on the challenges of the future. Today’s Sisters of Mercy continue that work in her example through ministry and prayer.

In addition to education, the Sisters of Mercy have made great contributions in the area of healthcare. Since arriving in North America in 1843, the Sisters of Mercy have faced the challenges of the day, such as the outbreak of diseases like cholera or, in more recent decades, the AIDS epidemic and the horror of human trafficking. The Sisters of Mercy continue to be a strong presence in their communities all these years later, working to keep people safe, healthy and prepared to take on life’s challenges with faith. In working with individuals who most need God’s Mercy, the Sisters of Mercy have been preparing the way of the Lord and making straight His path.

Reflection Questions:

  • In what ways, formally or informally, have I worked with those in need and prepared the way of the Lord?
  • How can I reach out to those who may be isolated, ostracized or forgotten so that they may feel mercy this Advent season?
  • How have the Sisters of Mercy touched my life?

Merciful and compassionate God, as we enter the season of Advent, help us to be mindful of all your gifts to us in the past, now and in the future. We thank you for all your gifts, which have helped us to teach, nurse and pray for those in need. We ask this prayer in the Name of Jesus, Your Son. Amen

Comments (22)

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  1. Eileen Munroe

    Most reflective on the works of the Sisters of Mercy. I so appreciated the Reflection Questions for Advent, giving much food for thought!
    Mercy Associate
    NE – Portland Community

  2. Jean Evans

    Janie, this reflection is marvelous. Thank you!

  3. Sr.Cathleen Cahill

    Thank you, Jane. A great beginning to Advent. Cathleen

  4. Judy Carle


    Wonderful to enjoy your reflection and prayer. Mercy Community is a real gift.

  5. Marilyn Lacey

    Jane, Thank you for this prayerful, poignant reminder of how Mercy endures across the ages!

  6. Christine Wilde, Meryc Associate

    Looking back over the amazing accomplishments of the community in years past against truly staggering odds gives us such hope that we can do no less as we face the challenges and uncertainties of the future. Thank you, Jane for this encourageemnt!

  7. Marilynn Futterer

    Thank you Sr Jane. I am so grateful for the Sisters Of Mercy in my life, and I love hearing the stories of how they came to be here. The questions are thought provoking and remind me why I’m here.

    Marilynn Futterer, associate Milwaukee, WI

  8. Claudia Burgess

    Dear Sister Jane,
    What a great way to reach out!
    This morning I’m actually taking my neighbor who’s not able to drive to a Doctors appointment.
    When I agreed to her request, I thought that I would appreciate a grestue like this if I were alone. That might be a selfish thought but i in my heart I think it’s what we alll should do for each other.
    I am so lucky and thankful to have worked for the Sister of Mercy for over 10 years. I believe God had placed me there, because I was in need to come back to a safe and spiritually enriching environment. I am forever grateful for their love, the laughter and their encouragement and prayers for me and my family.
    Thank you for including me in you reflection and prayer. Looking forward to the next one.
    Blessings to you!
    Claudia, Florida

  9. Catherine Wilkinson

    Thank you Sister Jane – a lovely and relevant opportunity for us to reflect on Advent in our own lives.

  10. Sandy Flaherty, Associate

    Janie, This is a wonderful reflection reminding us of the expanse of Mercy in our lives. A poignant way to prepare the way of the Lord Jesus in our lives.

  11. Janice Clark

    The Sisters of Mercy continue to ‘prepare the way’ for all those they touch…not just during Advent but every day! Continue to good work! Thank you Sr. Jane!

    Mercy High School SF (Class ’64)

  12. Patrick Michael Ahaus, Mercy Associate Seattle

    Dear Sr. Jane, Thank you for your inspiration for this Advent and helping me feel connected to the larger Mercy community as we all work for a better healthy world.
    Blessings be with you and the entire Mercy community of Sisters, Associates, Companions, Volunteers and dedicated co-workers.
    Mercy Associate Seattle, WA

  13. Marie Gahn

    What a beautiful reflection, Janie. Thank you.

  14. Catherine Regan

    Dear Sr Jane,
    I loved your invitation. I had never thought of my ministry has “preparing the way of the Lord.” And I am also feeling gratitude as I reflect on all the ways the Sisters of Mercy have “prepared the way of the Lord” in me over the years–especially through Mercy Center.
    Thank you for your Advent offeeing!

  15. Jeannine Burch

    Thank you for this informative and thought provoking reflection! I appreciate learning that the early sisters taught China painting and lace making. Your prayer filled be with advent joy!

  16. Lenore Harriman

    Beautifully spoken, Jane!
    I appreciate , too, the reminder of the need to keep our ears attuned, to listen for that “voice of One calling in the wilderness” , because we have a long and rocky road to make smooth.

  17. Anne Connolly

    175 thanks for walking us/into advent. May each day of this beautiful season be like 2, moving very slowly…

  18. Teresa Kastl

    Thank u for reflections on our history.

  19. Millie Burg

    Thank you Jane for this reflection to begin the season of Advent. The works of mercy are reflected in all of the ministries for the last 175 years. May we all be blessed as we continue to light the way for our loving Savior.

  20. Sr. Carol Baetz

    Thank you, Jane, for sharing the fruit of your prayer. You have helped me to expand my prayer vision of “preparing the way” to Catherine’s time and our Irish beginnings.

  21. Esther Mc Egan, RSM

    Jane dear, you are doing great work in your “retirement” years. Loved your reflection!

  22. Michelle Gorman

    Thank you, Jane, for connecting all of the works of Mercy to our present day.
    And I’m delighted to see Claudia Burgess’ comment: Claudia, I have no way of contacting you but please pray for Sr. Nancy Daniels who is very sick at Mercy Folsom Hospital. Peace to all.