AUSTRALIAN PILGRIMS IN ROME
A highlight of the Year of Mercy has been the Pilgrimage to Rome to join the Pope in celebrating the Year. An international Mercy group participated with approximately 35 sisters and Mercy colleagues from across the world taking part in this special event. The group is pictured above in St. Peter’s Square. Each Mercy congregation within the Mercy International Association was represented with ISMAPNG represented by a small group of both sisters and lay colleagues. The highlight was the Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 am on April 3 at which Pope Francis presided. There were smaller events going on in Rome on April 1st and 2nd and the Mercy group hoped to make a visit to the Church of St. Pudentiana, where the original painting of Our Lady of Mercy is held, if their schedule fits with the opening hours there.
Also present in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass were students from Mercedes College in Perth. From the College comes this account of their experience:
On the 3rd of April the Mercedes College Italian Language and Culture tour group attended the Pilgrim’s Mass in Rome celebrated by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square. The mass was concelebrated by many Cardinals and Bishops and attended by special guests.
The group of 35 students and five teachers was seated near the Obelisk at the centre of the Square with a good view of the altar, with the Jubilee Holy Door as a backdrop. They also caught a glimpse of the pilgrim representatives from the Sisters of Mercy with their banner held high. The large video screens on either side helped the group to see every detail of the liturgy.
The Principal of the College, Mrs Kerrie Fraser, who was participating in her first tour with the College since commencing her role in 2015, said it was a good learning experience to hear the mass spoken in Italian with the Prayer of the Faithful in languages from around the world. “A highlight of the liturgy was the beautiful singing by the Choir, and the parts of the mass sung by Cantors.” The hour and a half long mass ended with Pope Francis’ completing a lap of Saint Peter’s Square in the Pope Mobile which enabled many of the group to get photos close up of the Pope.
A delightful incident during the pilgrimage comes from Karon Donnellon rsm:
I thought you might like to hear a delightful story from our time in Rome! We were in St Peter’s Square waiting for the vigil prayers on Saturday evening. The different groups of Mercy were gathering in different places and so we, the small group of Australians, were holding up our banner – which had the canonisation picture of Catherine and our name – ‘Sisters of Mercy’ in English and Spanish. As Theresia and I were holding it up four children from 10 to 5 in age came up to us. They were speaking in Spanish. Then because we had no Spanish they used English. The eldest child – a girl- pointed to the banner and said they were at ‘her’ school. I asked where the school was and if they knew any Sisters of Mercy. The reply was that they didn’t know any sisters but they were from Argentina and they were at ‘her’ school. I said ‘Catherine McAuley’ and they said ‘yes, of course!’ They then asked if they could have their photo taken with the banner. And from several rows down emerged a very proud father ready to take the picture. They lined up under the banner smiling and laughing, delighted that they had found ‘their’ Catherine in St Peter’s Square. This alone is the reason I would want her canonised – the inspiration for generations to come. Wasn’t that a lovely moment?
For a full account of the Mercy Pilgrimage with photos click HERE