Thursday, September 22, 2016

Let mercy flow this week!

Observer column for MON 19 SEPT 2016

by Jean Lowrie-Chin

Governor General Sir Patrick Allen has issued a Proclamation that from this year onwards, the week in which September 24, Mercy Day, falls, will be National Mercy Week.  Here is an excerpt from the Proclamation:
“Whereas, at this juncture in the Jamaican society, there is a constant call from citizens for justice tempered with mercy, in this global year of Mercy ... and for the past 136 Years, Alpha has served as a place of safety and refuge, extending Mercy values … and whereas showing mercy will foster a more caring society in the island of Jamaica. I do hereby proclaim the week in which the 24th day of September falls annually, National Mercy Week, and urge all citizens to join with the Mercy Sisters and Associates in Jamaica, the originators of this observance, in recognition and thanksgiving for fostering works of mercy in our island, demonstrating the mercy of God to all humankind.”

This was read at the launch of Mercy Week and the announcement of plans for the Alpha Historical Museum on Friday, which was blessed by a distinguished student of the Sisters of Mercy, St. Catherine High School graduate Archbishop Kenneth Richards.

Deputy British High Commissioner Julia Sutherland (2nd left) with Archbishop Emeritus Charles Dufour, and from left Enith Williams; Carmen Rives Ruiz-Tapiador, Charge d'Affaires at the Embassy of Spain and Errol Moo Young. Mrs Sutherland worships regularly at the Holy Trinity Cathedral where this photo was taken. (Jean Lowrie-Chin photo) 

Keynote speaker Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner to Jamaica, Mrs Julia Sutherland, in congratulating the Sisters on their project, quoted our own National Hero Marcus Garvey: “A people without knowledge of past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.” She said Kingston had a rich culture; she was happy to discover Jamaica's beautiful Holy Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Kingston, and is a regular worshipper there. 

Students from various organisations run by the Sisters of Mercy shared their experiences in ‘Mercy Storytelling’.  The retired teacher Mrs Blake from Seaford Town recalls how a Mercy Sister organised a scholarship for St. Joseph’s Teachers College when her family was having hard times.  Communications guru Berl Francis related how Sister Mary Bernadette’s insistence on her taking French classes led her to becoming a journalist with the prestigious Montreal Gazette.

The famous Alpha Boys Band
Graduate of Alpha Boys School and St John Bosco School Devon Gaynor gave a witty account of those days with a litany beginning with, “It was mercy that …” and shared how Sister Ignatius, Sister Magdalene, Sister Regine and Sister Susan showed them the tough love that made them into good men.    

Hugh Douse, owner of the Nexus Performing Arts and talk show host, related how Sister Mary Paschal Figueroa opened up St Catherine High School to male students, affording him and his brother the opportunity of a fine Mercy education.  He reminded us that our Prime Minister is a St. Catherine High graduate, as well as our Archbishop.

This week, there will be two Panel Discussions open to the public with the theme, “Mercy – the Unexpected Path to Justice”, the first at the UWI Mona Library on Tuesday 20 September and on Thursday 22 September in Montego Bay at Mount Alvernia Conference Hall.

In the annual observance of Mercy Week and the Alpha Historical Museum, we draw from our deepest spiritual roots to make us a stronger and more compassionate nation.

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