Jesus the perfect companion as Religious look to future

More than 500 Religious and their colleagues have gathered at various forums over the past month to be enriched by the insights and spiritual wisdom of visiting American Mercy Sister and educator, Mary Pat Garvin.

Sr Mary Pat spoke at Catholic Religious Australia’s ‘Emerging Futures Committee’ first national seminar for 2019 on March 7 in Sydney on the topic of Graced Companionship: Our Call Past, Present, & Future.

Sr Mary Pat 1.jpg

Fifty plus participants from a number of states enjoyed her contention that Jesus was a graced companion par excellence. He offered vision, energy, challenge, and courage to those who accompanied him in ministry. 

“Likewise our founders and foundresses, following the example of Jesus, offered to their first members the vision, energy, challenge, and courage to address the social ills of their times,” said Australian Mercy Sister Sharon Price, from Catholic Religious Australia (CRA).

“ We explored how we too are graced companions: women and men religious, committed to ministering in our broken and blessed world with God's own courage and depth of imagination.”

A member of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, from 2011-2017 Sr Mary Pat served as a member of her congregation’s general leadership team.  She holds a PhD in psychology from the Gregorian University where she was a faculty member from 1994-2001.  Prior to being in leadership, Sr Mary Pat ministered for 20 years with national and international conferences of religious, as well as with more than 50 religious congregations throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. 

A life-long educator, Sr Mary Pat has taught at Creighton University, Gwynedd-Mercy University and Seton-Hall University.  Her research interest is the interplay of spirituality and psychology in the promotion of a healthy and holy living of the Christian life.  She is the author of over 20 articles on topics pertaining to vocation discernment and the formative process.  She co-authored ‘Leadership in Consecrated Life Today’ in Formation and The Person: Essays on Theory and Practice (2007).  In 2013 Sr Mary Pat offered a keynote address at the UISG international meeting of more than 800 leaders of women’s religious congregations.  In 2017 she received the Sr Mary Emil Penet Award from the Religious Formation Conference in the United States. This award was presented in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the ministry of lifelong formation for religious in North America and internationally.

Apart from the CRA seminar, Sr Mary Pat, who was just finishing a year-long sabbatical and thus was able to come to Australia for a month, was the opening keynote speaker for the Retirement for Mission sabbatical at Baulkham Hills.

Sr Mary Pat with crowd.jpg

“She entitled her series of presentations Retirement for Mission is not an oxymoron and those present really appreciated her lively and engaging sessions on ‘pretirement’ and ‘encore ministries’,” said Sr Sharon.

CRA also offered a two day retreat to Mercy Sisters from around Australia on Catherine’s Suscipe: Prayer of a "Social Mystic", referring to the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley.

The Sisters of Mercy in Australia embraced the opportunity that Sr Mary Pat’s visit provided and engaged her to speak at four symposiums in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane as well as at their Governance Forum in Sydney. All up more than five hundred religious and their colleagues were inspired and energised by Mary Pat’s presentations.