Exploration. Growth. Adventure. Pilgrimage. These are just a few powerful words to describe how this journey has taken this group of Carlow Mercy Leaders. We are concluding the physical exploration and adventure aspects of this journey through Ireland, and now focusing on our personal explorations and growth of ourselves as we have returned to Dublin to begin our first day of the Pilgrimage. Attending this Pilgrimage to help with this inner exploration are students from other Mercy Universities, both from various parts of the United States and Ireland.
We began our first day of the Pilgrimage by taking a slow, long walk from Abigail's Hostel to Mercy International. This walk took us about 30 minutes. During the walk, we were able to see numerous shopping areas, pubs, and historical landmarks Sister Sheila had pointed out the previous week during our own tour of Dublin. Once we arrived, we were greeted by a few Sisters of Mercy. They handed us packets, a paper tracing of a foot, and a name tag which had our full pilgrimage schedule on the back as well as a few other details to help guide us through our days.
Once settled, we were told to decorate the foot with our name and any decoration we wished. These footprints were used in the Chapel where we placed them up on the altar. The altar was decorated beautifully with candles, the small replica of the front door to Catherine McAuley's home, as we now call Mercy International, and a large globe. As our names were called, we were able to place our footprint anywhere we desired; this symbolized the beginning of our journey and being invited into Catherine McAuley's home. During the end of the Opening Ceremony, we were lead by a Sister of Mercy in a shuffle dance in a long line. In the dance, we were all joined together by hands connecting as one group, no longer just individuals.
Throughout the day, everyone met in their assigned small groups of about thirteen young mercy students. Basic introductions were given one by one, some groups performing small icebreaker activities while others engaged in casual conversation incorporating the questions of, "Where are you from?What school are you here with? What inspired you to come on this Pilgrimage?" Personally, I met some wonderful young ladies in my group who have made connections with one another. We want to continue to share our ideas and insights about spreading Mercy in our lives and throughout our school communities.
In the afternoon of the first day, we were given tours of the Mercy International Center. An abundance of Catherine McAuley stories were told. Some stories I had already heard, but others were new insights into her life. In the garden, we visited her burial site surrounded by a large garden. A part of the garden contains McAuley roses which are large yellow roses. When in full bloom, they let off a unique scent. I like to describe it as a subtle perfume scent.
There were many other components to the tour of the house, but this piece would be pages long. However, after some self-reflection on the day, I feel eager to see what awaits for the main portion of the pilgrimage. Being that the theme of this journey is centered around Leadership, I'm anxious to hear about the topics which will be discussed, learning about current events and how merciful works can help change current issues in the world. I am anxious to find out how I can personally make a change and/or learn more about myself on a deeper level.
Read more from the pilgrimage.
View photos of Ireland from the Mercy Leaders.