These words, written by a participant in a two-day reflection program at Mercy Spirituality Centre, encapsulate the vision of Program Co-ordinator, Anne Ryan rsm. The Centre is a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy and she says her hope is to “offer a place where people can come to an awareness of what’s going to support them most in their spiritual journey”.
The Centre is located lakeside at Toronto and the beauty and peace of the setting go a long way towards encouraging rest, reflection and prayer. Indeed, creation is not an added extra, but integral to the Centre’s offerings. Regular presenter Helen Baguley rsm believes, “If we are of God, then so is creation. I can’t be wholly me until I learn to relate and honour all the life around me.”
One participant was initially surprised, then delighted, to learn that sitting in beauty can be a prayer. The Centre provides plenty of spots where one can sit in beauty and retreat from the everyday cares of life.
One of the essentials, Anne believes, is ensuring “really well qualified professional facilitators offering a variety of theologies because not everyone is from the one religious tradition”.
Having said that, there is an implicit acknowledgement that the wisdom emerges from the individuals who assemble, not only from the facilitator.
In Anne’s experience, “I’m sure some people are enriched because they walk away with questions …it’s certainly not a place that tries to provide any answers, but rather, challenges everybody to that maturity to explore with God, not to be told…”
Hospitality is integral to Centre programs, welcoming participants, putting them at ease and enhancing the more formal aspects of programs.
As someone who listens professionally, Anne has a heightened awareness of the difficult chapters in many people’s stories. Some of those difficulties have been inflicted, or at least not alleviated, by the church itself. She feels the Centre is a place “that can offer immense quiet and opportunities for reconnection, not necessarily with the church, but with the self”.
So much given. So much received. Thank you.