Archived News Item

Mercy Global Presence Online Retreats: Global contemplation bringing the Mercy International vision to life.

Margie Abbott RSM and Sally Neaves (Eco-Education Coordinator, ISMAPNG)



In her original writing about the purpose of Mercy Global Presence, Elizabeth Davis said “Mercy Global Presence is rooted in the conviction that there is a rich diversity among us and in the special exploration we do there will be the power and promise of intercultural wisdom and energy”. The recent series of eight unique 1 or 2 day Mercy Global Presence retreats, facilitated by Margie Abbott RSM and Sally Neaves, adopted this conviction.


The retreats invited Sisters of Mercy and their Partners in Mission, including the Mercy Mission Formation Network of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, The Well Spirituality Centre in Chicago, USA, and others, to explore what it means to be “actively engaged in the protection of our common home and witness to the sacredness of all creation” (Mercy International Mission Statement).


In particular, this series, which was intended to be held face-to-face in beautiful places and then went online, explored the Mercy Global Presence themes in order to “engage the mercy world in global contemplation moving to shape the new words, new language, new spirituality and new theology” (Mercy International Mission Statement). The online platform enabled us to reach many more participants around the world desiring opportunities to do this.


Some participants expressed the desire to do more than one retreat, so each retreat became a unique experience exploring different MGP resources.


The retreats followed the four-stage spiral process of Joanna Macy’s “The Work that Re-connects”, with MGP resources built into each stage. The stages of this process are:

  • Gratitude: steadying ourselves with awe, wonder and beauty before opening up to the grief we feel at its devastation.
  • Knowing our Pain: Each of us carries a heavy grief for the unravelling of life on Earth. In taking time to honour and share this publicly, we not only discover it is a collective grief but also where it comes from and what to do with it.
  • Seeing with new eyes: The honouring of grief enables us to recognise the love that it stems from and reminds us of the powers we have to make a difference and the challenge to love once more.
  • Going forth: A bridge between the shared experience in the group and the return to our everyday lives in active hope.


There were times for solitude, times to be together on Zoom, and time for active participation in ways to deepen our contemplation. In the times of solitude, participants received emails with suggested contemplative practices such as a gratitude walk, mandala, and sentence starters for free writing, guided meditation recordings and readings.


We entered into this series against the backdrop of COVID-19 and we held the pain of the world at this time through our global contemplation. Many participants celebrated the fact that we were grounded in place at home and the opportunities this brings for deeper contemplative experiences. Others were able to work this online retreat into their usual busy work day.


More retreats like this will be available over the next few months. To register interest please email


Margie Abbott RSM and Sally Neaves


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