I just watched the video “Sisters of Mercy: Going West on the Journey,” about the Sisters of Mercy coming to the Americas in the 1800s. In a word, WOW!

Watching the film, I felt like I was on the ship with the sisters as they sailed from their Irish homeland to the Americas. After reaching shore, I set out with the “walking sisters” across the Americas.

The sisters’ purpose was to minister to the droves of Catholics who left Ireland because of famine and poverty. Having faced great hardship themselves, the sisters were prepared for life in the Americas, a place of huge challenges and enormous possibilities. Much of North, South, and Central America was still wilderness. In their new homelands, Irish immigrants often faced great poverty and much anti-Catholic prejudice.

The sisters responded to these circumstances with faith, perseverance, and creativity. They went beyond the convent walls to bring health care, education and other services to the immigrants wherever they were.

One of the many things I like about the film is that it is a metaphor for the adventure of life. The sisters set out on their journey, not knowing exactly where it would take them or what to expect along the way. They prepared as best they could and entrusted the rest to the Spirit. They were self-reliant and at the same time interdependent.

For my prayer today, I’ll continue walking with these early Sisters of Mercy, trying as best I can to follow in their footsteps of compassion, faithfulness, perseverance and creativity.

P.S. Many thanks to our friend and historian extraordinaire Prof. Margaret Susan Thompson for news of the video’s availability online. The video was produced to commemorate the Mercy Sesquicentennial.