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Cornelia Connelly and the Year of Mercy

Sr. Jeanne - March 9, 2016

When Pope Francis designated the Year of Mercy, SHCJ asked the question: Was Cornelia “into” God’s mercy?  One of our CC scholars responded with a strong case that her spirituality, which was based on the Ignatian spiritual exercises, most certainly reflects God’s mercy. And, as always, by actions as well as words!  

Cornelia had stated the Society was founded for the work of spiritual mercy. Mercy runs like a river through all the windings and trials of Cornelia’s life, beginning in 1840 when she speaks of God’s all-embracing mercy. Over the years mercy plays a major role in her response to life. She pleads mercy for her young son, Merty, when in trouble at Stoney Hurst School; when pondering the future of her children in 1844, her sad spirit is raised by the mercy of the Cardinal who agrees Frank should stay with her until he is five years old. Toward those who schemed against her such as Emily Bowes, she shows mercy and forgiveness. And she extends the same mercy to Pierce by paying his debts to avoid his going to prison. She mercifully, lovingly receives her alienated children when they return to her. The SHCJ community in Preston almost betrayed her, which experience almost broke her spirit. However, mercy and forgiveness prevailed to keep the “little Society” together through this trial.  And there are many more concrete examples.  

Perhaps her own words offer the strongest evidence of her response to God’s mercy. These are found in her original rule of 1853. “Mysteries of the most sublime teaching are to be found in the humble, hidden life of the Holy Child Jesus, in which God manifests in a most wonderful manner the treasures of His MERCY and of His boundless love.”    Another time she wrote: “Contemplating the Eternal Wisdom in the lowliness of his humanity we are to seek knowledge of our own nothingness and that of his infinite love and mercy.”  

Let us pray as we journey these last weeks of lent that the focus on God’s mercy experienced in our lives,  and at our College may inspire a generous, merciful response to one another, and to our country and world with its many needs for God’s mercy.  We make this prayer in the name of our loving and merciful God.   AMEN.