McDarby Institute Reflection: Graciousness, Gratitude, and Paying It Forward

House of the Sisters of Mercy in Carlow, Ireland.

With an early start to the day, we really had no idea of the glory, beauty and generosity that we would experience today.

We were greeted at breakfast by our van driver, Mike, who announced that he would not be able to remain with us the entire trip because he had just become a grandpa for the first time and was to attend the christening later in the week. We were touched by his joy and audibly shared in his delight.

Then, with the van packed, we had a big send-off from the gracious hosts at the Mercy International Centre. As I hugged Sr. Kathy, who served us delicious food during our stay, she said (in an accent I cannot type on this page), “Have ya Irish blood in ya?” I proudly told her I did, to which she replied, “I knew it, there is somethin’ about ya.” I relished in the obvious compliment.

We rode to monastic ruins of Glendalough (the valley of the two lakes) blessed with another day of beautiful weather. The weather would not be the only thing for which to be truly thankful. The views of the upper lake, not far from St. Kevin’s cave are utterly spectacular, glorious and breath-taking. It is impossible to describe with words. The description from the website of the Glendalough Visitor Centre reads: “a remarkable place that will still your mind, inspire your heart and fill your soul.” And it did. So I must thank God for creating it, Ireland for preserving it, and Sr. Sheila Carney for bringing us to it.

From Glendalough, we rode to visit the Sisters of Mercy at Carlow. This was the place from which the first Mercy sisters, including Frances Warde, came to America. The van had just pulled up, and one by one sisters emerged from the front door, arms open wide, to welcome us. They brought us in, showed us the heritage room and served us tea and scones. They could not have been more gracious. I truly appreciated their warm reception and generous kindness.

At dinner today we were joined by Sr. Mary Murphy, Campus Minister. Carlow University is very much obliged to her for her continuous hospitality to our students when they get the opportunity to visit in Carlow, Ireland.

Again today, it was graciousness all around, for which we are truly grateful. The thoughtfulness and generosity of Sr. Sheila has blown me away. I am now compelled to pay it forward and soon, for as Catherine McAuley said, “the poor need help today, not next week.”

Read more posts from the pilgrimage.

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