Millenium - Beacon of Hope

At the General Chapter of 1998 the following mandate was unanimously passed – ‘There is a strong leaning in the Chapter towards recommending a Mercy Millennium Project’.

In January 1999 a Millennium Group was formed to forward this Chapter Mandate. At the first meeting the group was inspired by the words of John O’Donahue –

'It’s incredible to be crossing over this millennium. When we think of all our ancestors who were never at the end of a millennium! This is a big shift. There are certain huge events that shape consciousness and this is one of them. It would be great to have an honourable crossing'.

The motto of the group became – Mercy a Beacon of Hope into the Millennium and beyond – and the Lighthouse became the symbol of that Hope.

Beginning with the Feast of the Annunication in 1999 a number of events were organised using Cluster Meetings, Celebrations, Liturgy, Images and Symbols. In November of that year we remembered all our deceased Sisters by recording a Mercy Memories Tape which was circulated to each Community. A Lighthouse Tapestry was commissioned on which the name of every Sister was embroidered on a hand (reaching out in Mercy to the world). A number of Sisters were able to be present for the service and celebration when this work of art was unveiled in Yeadon in February 2000.

After much discussion as to the nature of a Millennium Project it was decided to sponser a number of smaller projects and in this way have an impact on a greater number of people. In March 1999 a letter was sent out to the Institute inviting applications for funding to support local projects which mirrored the concerns of the communities in which the Sisters lived and/or worked.

In total 56 projects were approved and can be summarised as follows:-

  • Young people or Education
  • Parish based
  • Families
  • Medical/Hospitals
  • Homeless
  • Refugees/Missions
  • Millennium Celebrations
  • Learning disability
  • Women
  • Life House

For one family it meant a warm winter as central heating was installed in their home. A young woman was able to continue her studies to third level while another woman was given sufficient funding to complete her counselling course. One of the biggest donations was granted to a Diocesan Youth Team to help expand the work of the Team to the benefit of many young people. Some of the projects were depicted in a special calendar which was produced for 2001. 

Aware that we were privileged to be part of this ‘huge event’ each Sister and Community was encouraged to keep a Millennium Diary, which recorded the milestones of 2000. Many of the Community Diaries are now part of the Archives material. 

Conscious also that the Congregration had played a significant role in society for 160 years of the last Millennium a video was produced which higlights some of the ways we as mercy Sisters strive to be Beacons of Hope in today’s world.