the year of mercy in broken bay schools
2016 is the final year of the CSO’s three-year strategic focus: God’s Mission, Joy of the Gospel.
By the end of 2015 school leaders and their staff will be familiar with the basic themes and spirit of Pope Francis’ ‘Joy of the Gospel’ and will have made some concrete effort to use it as ‘a renewing lens’ in the life of the school community.
In 2016 the strategic focus is on continuing this momentum, particularly through the student body and parent community.
2016 also coincides with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
How can a school mark the Jubilee Year and embrace its emphasis on ‘mercy’?
Reflect on the way we communicate, our speech patterns.
An exercise (or examen) for the class:
Invite a guest speaker (live or virtual) into the classroom: someone who embodies the beatitude of mercy. What is it about this person that challenges us to be more merciful?
Spend time gazing and reflecting upon Rupnik’s artwork (logo). What do you see? Deepen your gaze… what do you see? How does it speak to me?
Offer an Examen – tailored to the theme of ‘mercy’
Mercy: sounds good, but what does it mean?! Invite appropriate speakers to unpack the meaning of mercy in the Scriptures and the tradition; e.g., The Hebrew root for Rachamim (‘compassions; tender mercies’) takes us to the word rechem, which means "womb." God is rachum, ‘compassionate/merciful’. God’s mercy is womb-like. What does it mean to be ‘womb-like’? Who can help us ponder this powerful image, starting with the mothers in our midst?
Invite those schools that already have a focus on mercy (e.g., Mercy College Chatswood) to share their best insights, actions, plans, experience. Acknowledge their charism, learn from it, and in doing so empower all in their sense of mission to the wider diocesan school community.
Highlight the ‘open doors’ theme of Joy of the Gospel which includes the parable of the Prodigal Son. We already have resources for this.]
Designate a mercy door/gate in the school. Mark it and ‘christen it’ at a school assembly. May it be a reminder every time we enter that this school community is a place of mercy. Or: have each class designate their own door as a ‘mercy’ door.
Who in our midst has a charism of mercy? Invite students to name them. Choose and commission 12 missionaries of mercy whose task is to help foster this quality in the school during the Year of Mercy. Alternatively, designate a class per month to bear the title ‘Missionary of Mercy’ – for that month they keep the charism alive in the school, helping everyone to deepen their lived appreciation of the beatitude of mercy. Pass the baton each month from class to class at a simple ritual at school assembly.
Publish and pray the Jubilee Prayer. It is a long prayer. It could be broken up into smaller units or used as a community prayer in a ‘dialogue’ format.
Build upon the experience of the Examen as part of this Jubilee
Select a range of one-line prayers from scripture. Highlight and pray them often. E.g.:
The sacrament of reconciliation: Affirm the children/families preparing for this sacrament. Working with the local priests/parish team, what can we do to ensure that all our students have one really positive, lifegiving experience of this sacrament during the Jubilee Year? How to make this sacramental experience one of freedom, the joy of the gospel?
What healing/reconciling experiences in the wider community could be promoted during the Jubilee Year - to staff, parents, students? E.g. ;'Restorative Practices (Vic and Liz O’Callaghan)
Design your own pilgrimage. E.g. within the vicinity of your school/parish/neighbourhood identify a number of sites that you associate with mercy/compassion/forgiveness.
Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy: a vision for the Church (Loyola Press, 2014)
This excellent resource offers 39 brief reflections (each 1-3 pages) in Francis’ typical homiletic styles, full of pithy statements, rich biblical images, pastoral encouragement. Ideal for creating staff reflections. Here is a sample based on the first reflection.
#1. “The Embrace of God’s Mercy”
· We take a minute to centre ourselves (1 min)
· We give thanks for God’s immense love
· We read Francis’ homily (5min) – pp.3-5
· Francis explores four stories from scripture. Choose one, and spend some time with it alone, then in pairs (perhaps a pair-walk):
· Regroup and continue sharing.
· Close by praying the prayer from the Jubilee of Mercy.
Links to resources
Click on links to access
Staff prayer to commence 2016
Music for the Year of Mercy
Free hymns from Br Michael Herry
Works of Mercy Resource Packet
Year of Mercy Resources (The Religion Teacher)
Year of Mercy Resources (Look to Him and Be Radiant)
Jubilee Year of Mercy Resources and Useful Links (Archdiocese of Melbourne)
Works of Mercy, Prayers and Activities (Catechist's Journey, Loyola Press)