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Easter Reflection 2022

A Journey from Despair to Hope 

When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair, torn and hurting. Despair cements us in the present. Hope sends us dancing around dark corners trusting in a tomorrow we cannot see. 

(Vision and Viewpoint E-Newsletter – 28 March 2022)

These powerful words from Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister OSB touch my heart. In recent times I have been tempted to give into despair and emotional fatigue! At every turn both at home and globally, we all seem to be living in such uncertain and anxious times that test our faith and our capacity for hope. I have never liked pain and if there is a way over or around it, I may attempt to jump over it!

Yet this is not the Easter story. Jesus endured the darkness of humiliation, suffering and death on a Cross, before breaking through to the light of liberation, the new life of resurrection. The Easter story leads us in faith from despair to hope.

Given all the challenges our Mercy Works partners, projects and staff have been facing lately, they too could have given into despair. Yet with great pride I can share with you this Easter some Mercy Works stories of hope and light which I know will lift your spirits, as they have mine.

In the words of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, they are truly “shining lamps, giving light to all around us.”  

In Papua New Guinea –

In our projects in Simbu and Kiunga, ongoing adaptations and great progress has been made despite all the challenges.  Misinformation and fear abound about the pandemic in Papua New Guinea and people often stand at the crossroads between despair and hope. Yet so much is happening in our Mercy Works projects which counteracts despair and leads the community along the path of hope. Relationships are developing with the prisoners and their families in the Barawagi jail to build trust and respect. With all our community development activities there is more outreach to the villages rather than expecting the people to come in to the towns. We are searching for ways to resume our regular radio broadcasts which give correct COVID education and share good news stories of hope and change across the country.

Amidst all this Mercy Works in PNG offers a ‘shining lamp’, a beacon of hope!

In the Philippines –

You will have read about our new project with trafficked women in the recent Mini Bilum magazine in Cebu cityCreating Change for Women through Advocacy’. Mercy Works is in partnership with the Villa Maria Good Shepherd Sisters Inc.   Despite the recent major setbacks – the super typhoon Odette in December 2021 and the spreading the Omicron variant, the project has forged ahead with great enthusiasm and courage.

A ‘shining lamp’, a beacon of hope remains steadfast in the Philippines!

In Adelaide First Nations Advocacy project – known as Nunga Babies Watch –

With passionate commitment the Aboriginal women who lead this project have stood together and called upon the South Australian Government to take immediate action to end another Stolen Generation from happening.  They presented a 20-point Statement to the South Australian Parliament in December 2021. This challenges the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and the placing of them in non-Indigenous settings.  Former chaplain for the Department of Correctional Services, Ngadjuri woman and Elder Aunty Pat Waria-Read, says –

“This is a national disgrace. Months later there’s been no response from the Ministers, I thought there would have been an uproar. It’s a continuation of the Stolen Generation.”

 These Aboriginal women stand as a ‘shining lamps’, beacons of hope for all!

What I have noticed as I hear each of these hope-filled stories is that each one ignites a spirit of hope in me. Like the experience of the disciples at Easter, despair and isolation gives way to hope and love as we walk together with the Risen Jesus.

So, I invite you all, whenever you stand at the crossroads between hope and despair this Easter to ponder these questions –

  • Can I truly say as a person of Mercy that I am a ‘shining lamp to all around me’?
  • Do I live the light of the Risen Jesus with gratitude?

Sally Bradley RSM
Executive Director,
Mercy Works

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