Judith - A Mercy woman living across Samoa and Tonga
I feel very privileged as I travel between the four communities in these two countries and share something of the lives and the cultures of others – this includes living with the Sisters of Mercy in these places and being with the people with whom they work and minister.
I have been touched by the deep faith and open hospitality of the people in both countries. There is a simplicity of faith and lifestyle and a generous giving that has changed my life perspective.
Our Mercy Vision Statement – Centred in God, impelled to be Mercy, keeping hope alive in our world today – is a very real dimension of everyday living and ministry in both Samoa and Tonga.
Sharing God’s mercy means touching and being touched by the fullness of life around and within us, with all its ups and downs and joys and sorrows.
Each different culture is holy ground and I have found that my horizons of what mercy means have grown and widened with these new experiences and opportunities.
This ministry involves travel and I often remember Catherine McAuley’s words as she travelled to be with sisters and to respond to the needs of the people in different places – “We have one solid comfort amidst this little tripping about, our hearts can always be in the same place, centred in God, for whom alone we go forward or stay back.”
I work alongside teachers for professional development in four schools – St Joan of Arc Primary and St Paul VI College in Leulumoega, Samoa; St Theresa’s Primary in Fusi, Samoa; and Takuilau College in Lapaha, Tonga. This ministry includes Literacy Development, English Curriculum involvement, Computer Education, and work on Teaching and Learning strategies across the whole curriculum.
Another aspect is working on support programmes for students who are not achieving in English at College level. Also whatever other need presents itself at any given time – which is often varied and unexpected. So there is always lots of variety and never a dull moment.
My involvement is with both teachers and students so I can develop resources that fit into the real life of the classroom in each particular cultural context. At various times I have also given some staff prayer and reflection input, often with a particular focus on Mercy spirituality.
Much of my background in New Zealand was in education, including reading recovery and also spiritual direction and retreat work. So this new ministry allows me to use all of my experience in new ways. I have the advantage of not having the full responsibilities usually associated with being full time in one classroom or in an administrative position so I have the time to develop and try out ideas with teachers and students. I have a strong belief that education empowers people and gives them choices and a wider outlook of the possibilities in life that they would not otherwise have.