Ali’s Final Profession – the Vowed Life
This Mercy story began one hundred and eighty years ago in Dublin. Our foundress, Catherine McAuley answered the call from God to serve the poor and homeless women and children she saw in the streets around her.
We are women who’ve chosen to commit ourselves to the following of Jesus in a world of great change and in a church undergoing change.
We commit ourselves to the incarnate God who took flesh and lived among us. We believe that whatever is human, whatever is struggling for life is our world.
The vowed life Ali is choosing today began with her baptismal call.
Her first formation in faith and love was at the hands of her parents, Jeannette and Rod, no doubt helped along by Jane, Stephanie and Josh.
Ali’s faith in life developed within this loving and secure family environment.
It is because of this that she is today able to make these vows to love with an undivided heart as Jesus did. It inspires her to take the motto, ‘How precious is your steadfast love O God’.
Ali today takes a vow of obedience. This might be described as a ‘vow to cooperate’ in mission, as discerned by the leadership of our Congregation and together, in community.
Our Constitutions express this:
“Alone and together, we listen to the voice of the Spirit, speaking through the sources that all Christians learn to recognize – the wondrous presence within creation, the scriptures, the voice of the church, the signs of the times, the events of our lives and the needs of others”.
Our profession of evangelical poverty expresses our resolve to follow Jesus Christ, the poor one.
Catherine McAuley’s inspiration came from her knowledge and love of the poor.
Through this vow we are called to frugality in the use of the world’s resources.
This frugality extends to a way of life that reverences this earth – to witnessing to a way of life that provides hope and life for future generations.
Ali’s vow of chastity is a commitment to a great and inclusive love.
It is a clarion call to first love herself and to discover the mercy of God in her own life because it is God’s mercy that she is called to share with the world.
And it is through being grounded in the Eucharist and in prayer that God’s mercy is discovered as part of this Mercy inheritance.
The fourth vow is of service to the poor and the most vulnerable in our society. This fourth vow Ali holds dearly.
Ali, before she joined our community, had already directed her life to young people, and men and women suffering from addictions, mental illness and homelessness.
It is this charism of Mercy that first drew Ali to us.
Only by looking at these four vows together do we grasp their greatness as a way of life that frees us for mission. The vows together are a liberating force which invite us to experience the Gospel as one of freedom from power, possessions and self-gratifying love.
Today our Mercy mission involves 12,000 women, ministering in 46 countries across the world who caught the fire and passion of Catherine McAuley and who together seek to live ‘an apostolic service grounded in Jesus.’ (Our Way of Living p14)
Ali, your knowledge that Jesus lives today in the midst of those who struggle most for a place within our society will keep you faithful to the vows and hungering to advocate for justice for the poor of this earth. This knowledge has been born out of your own struggle to live – and you’ve known god’s steadfast love enduring throughout all of this. You know the truth, ‘God is with us’.
Your love for Catherine McAuley and all things Mercy and the history of our beginnings is well known by us. We pray for you, as Catherine reminded us, –”We should be as the compass that goes around its circle without stirring from its centre. Our centre is God, from whom all our actions should spring as their source.”
We thank you Barbara for the energy, fidelity and wisdom you have used in guiding Ali to this day.
Ali we thank you for the gift of yourself and hope this will spur us on to even greater things.
We thank you God, for the gift of Ali.
Ruth Egar RSM