Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy is the patroness and protectress of the Institute of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, making September 24—the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy—the Titular Feast of the Sisters of Mercy. Mary is the Mother of Christ who cooperated with the Lord’s will at every moment of her life. She is the Mother of Mercy because she is the Mother of Jesus Christ, Mercy Incarnate. Standing by her Son at the foot of the Cross, she was given as mother to every disciple. She continues to invite each Sister of Mercy to the foot of the Cross of her Son. Holding the Sister into this mystery, Mary assists her to be an instrument of Mercy.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
When Venerable Mother Catherine McAuley established her community, she placed it under the protection of Mary, Mother of Mercy. With the refoundation of our religious institute in 1973, as the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, we retained the charism and patrimony of Mother Catherine’s foundation but became a canonically separate religious community. In the years following our refoundation, the philosophical and theological writings of St. Thomas Aquinas became an increasingly pivotal influence in our formation. While our Institute is not Dominican in its spirituality or origins, “St. Thomas’ philosophical and anthropological understanding of the human person is essential for the way the Sisters of Mercy of Alma, MI are formed to receive mercy and to be merciful servants of the compassion of Jesus” (Customs and Guide, p. 73).
In August of 2002, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship approved our Institute’s request to be placed officially under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas. At that time, he was named our “Heavenly Patron.” He is thus a special intercessor for our community and his teaching provides a path to perfection in mercy for each Sister.
This patronage also permits us to celebrate his feast day (January 28th) as a Feast in the proper liturgical calendar of our Institute.
The Passion of Christ
Devotion to the Passion of Christ leads the Sisters to gratitude, increasing union with Christ, and acceptance of their own sufferings with joy. Venerable Catherine exemplified this devotion and its fruits. “Learn to carry the cross you are now going to embrace willingly for love of Him…cling to it; tell your Savior that you will prove to Him your desire to be crucified with Him” (Mother Catherine McAuley).
The Blessed Sacrament
“The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, having been instituted by Our dear Lord to be our food and support during this mortal pilgrimage and also our perpetual sacrifice, each Sister should, therefore, cultivate a loving devotion to this heavenly mystery” (Mother Catherine McAuley).
The most important room of each Alma Mercy Convent is the chapel. The Sisters are encouraged to make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day, especially before leaving for their apostolic work, upon returning from their work, before leaving for or returning from a trip and at any time of need.
The Sacred Heart
Since the start of the Foundation of the Sisters of Mercy, Mother McAuley stressed that the Sacred Heart “must be a personal devotion for each Sister, and she must believe that the Sacred Heart is her surest font of forgiveness and reconciliation. At times of sorrow, the Sisters are to unite themselves with the Heart which was sorrowful even unto death. When alone, they must unite their solitude with that of the Sacred Heart in its exile of love in the Blessed Sacrament.” Mother McAuley also stressed that the Sisters “are to study the lives of those saints who made the Sacred Heart a special devotion.” Today, as then, each Sister of Mercy of Alma, Michigan proclaims with Mother Catherine McAuley, “as Sisters of Mercy, surrounded as we are with danger and temptation, where will we seek refuge if not in the Heart of our Loving Lord?”