Women of Faith: The Chicago Sisters of Mercy and the Evolution of a Religious Community

By Mary Beth Fraser Connolly | Go to book overview

Epilogue

West Midwest and the Legacy of the Sisters
of Mercy Chicago Regional Community

How rapidly the days, weeks, and months are passing. Another month ended,
that seemed but a few days begun. If we have not forfeited the friendship of Al-
mighty God, but have been trying to love Him more and more, and to serve Him
faithfully, they were blessed days for us. Oh let us endeavor to make these days
such as we should wish the past to have been … The simplest and most practi-
cal lesson I know … is to resolve to be good today
but better tomorrow. Let us
take one day only in hands
at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow.
Thus we may hope to get on
taking short careful steps, not great strides.1

Catherine McAuley wrote the preceding passage in a letter to Sister Mary de Sales White in Bermondsey in February 1841, a few months after her previous correspondence in which she ruminated on the impermanence of individual Sisters of Mercy. In that earlier letter, McAuley’s “little tripping about” placed emphasis on the centrality of God in her community’s religious life. She echoes these sentiments in her February letter, which she wrote within the season of Lent. While the most of the letter deals with Catherine McAuley’s suggestions for a practical approach to Lenten fasting and other sacrifices while conducting ministry, we can take her words and apply them within the context of endings and new beginnings. In the months leading up to the formation of the new West Midwest Community, Catherine McAuley’s words adorned the pages of the community newsletter, Tidings. As the publication prepared the Chicago Mercys for the upcoming merger, the quote stood as a reminder to readers of the passing of time, and the importance of loving God and serving “Him faithfully.”2

In preparation for the Sisters of Mercy Chicago Regional Community coming together with other regional communities into the new West Midwest Community, sisters reflected upon the changes to come in the months ahead. In one sense, they had been preparing for this new affiliation of Mercy communities for over a decade. Since the creation of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercys of the Americas in the early 1990s, sisters had engaged in dialogue about the meaning and structure of the Sisters of Mercy. The Institute meant the dissolution of the Union in order to be-

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