The warp or ‘what’ of Mercy’s mission is provided by key strands which have shaped the ministries of the Sisters of Mercy since they were founded.
The weft or ‘how’ of Mercy’s mission is expressed in the cluster of core values which have characterised their work. While today sisters increasingly share their ministries with lay companions, these key strands and core values remain crucial in identifying the works of Mercy.
Key strands of Mercy mission
Catherine’s vision of a world transformed by God’s love was fired by her deep conviction that she and her colleagues could make a difference to people’s lives. While each Mercy ministry has its own specific focus, it will include some or all of the following:
- Service to the poor Catherine’s unique gift was to draw wealthy and poor into a mutually enriching partnership. Mercy is called to stand with the vulnerable, working to transform society by linking need with resources.
- Care of the sick and dying The first ‘walking sisters’ nursed victims of Dublin’s cholera epidemic a year after the Congregation was founded. Today Mercy is especially committed to those who are very sick and old, combining compassionate care with professional skills.
- Empowerment of women and girls Catherine recognised education as the key to improving life for women and their families. Mercy education is aimed today at empowering women in the search for a more just and sustainable world, and at equipping them for leadership in all fields of human endeavour.
- Advocacy Enlisting the aid of people with power and influence was one of Catherine’s strategies for achieving change. Mercy is committed to speaking on behalf of those on the margins of society, and to joining with other voices in calling for constructive change.
- Commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi Catherine’s sisters went only where they were invited and stayed only as long as required. It was in response to the karanga from Māori that the Sisters of Mercy first came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1850; today that response endures in a strong commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi and to creative partnerships with Māori.
- Care of the Earth Catherine’s spirituality enabled her to see God’s presence in the whole of life. Today Mercy is committed to preserving the integrity of creation, seeing human beings as connected with and dependent on all other living species.
Core Mercy Values
For nearly two centuries, Sisters of Mercy have been developing a mission response which bears their unique stamp. Values remain constant even though the context may change and new ministries emerge as fresh needs are discerned.
In each of their ministries, it is the cluster of core values which defines the Mercy way. The cluster may include some or all of the following:
- Te tapu o te tangata Human dignity Respecting every person and culture as unique
- Te aroha Compassion Acting with understanding and sensitivity
- Te āwhinatanga Service Meeting human needs through quality care
- Te tika Justice Working together for the common good of all
- Te manaakitanga Hospitality Welcoming as friends all who come
- Te mana whakahaere Mutual empowerment Enhancing lives by sharing gifts
- Te aroha ki te rawakore Concern for poor and vulnerable Responding practically to community needs