On June 15, 2022, the Misericordia Sisters bequeathed their founding charism to the International Family of Mercy. To say yes to a spiritual legacy of a religious community is to say yes to their spiritual and missionary history in Church and society.
By Rosalie Cadron-Jetté, the Community of the Misericordia Sisters had received from Bishop Ignace Bourget a very particular charism, that of putting on the bowels of God’s Mercy for a very specific mission with the most neglected of the time, the pregnant mothers out of wedlock.
For 177 years, more than 830 women, following Rosalie, have consecrated their lives in a religious vocation to serve this mission of spiritual and corporal Mercy. It is thanks to these predecessors that the members of the International Family of Mercy have the privilege of living this Charism and of bringing it to the heart of the world.
How did the three components of Charisma take shape?
The spirituality of Rosalie was of a fecundity that surpasses human imagination; welcomed by a community of women who will accept to consecrate their life in a religious vocation, and this, to give birth, live and transmit a special assignmentTo save mothers who are deeply wounded, denigrated and rejected in their pregnancy and motherhood.
Let us remember that Rosalie was a spiritual guide recognized by the Catholic Church (declared venerable in 2013 by Pope Francis) to carry out this mission that required unwavering faith, hope and unconditional love to accompany the misery of these mothers.
Throughout the history of the Misericordia Sisters, the Spirituality of the Founding Charism has manifested itself in a maternal welcome that cares, understands, consoles, guides, grows in maturity, prays for mothers wounded in their motherhood, their child and their loved ones, and celebrates. To clothe oneself with the bowels of Mercy became an experience of love and truth in which trust and hope in God and in the value of the mother held a central place.
The Spirituality of the Charism is therefore maternal and is impregnated with a family perfume and an unconditional welcome of love in the image of the Merciful God, both in its feminine and masculine dimensions. Its feminine dimension is understood as visceral maternal love that is moved by the fragility of its child and embraces it, making up for all that it lacks so that it can live and grow. His masculine dimension is that firm fidelity of the Father who always supports, forgives and puts his children back on the path.
In all the groups that belong to the International Family of Mercy, we find a Family spirit that distinguishes and differentiates them from other organizations.
The Mission of the Charism of the Community of the Misericordia Sisters, as lived by the Sisters from generation to generation, since Rosalie, is revealed as follows: to clothe the womb of God’s Mercy by accompanying spiritually and humanly in unconditional love the mother in a difficult situation in her pregnancy and/or maternity, her child and her loved ones, so that her life, as a woman and a mother, may be strengthened and flourish.
These wounded women will be lifted up in their motherhood by bringing them spiritual, human and maternal support knowing very well that only the Mercy of God remakes the person.
What the mother receives, she will give back to her child, creating a loving and secure home environment for the child to grow with confidence and become a successful adult.
The Mission is therefore impregnated with a family flavor where the mother is accompanied in her maternal and family role. This Mission is animated by a spirituality that takes care of the maternal wound of these lonely, abandoned and desperate women. In this relationship of accompaniment, the Sisters challenge us by telling us that they were never alone in this relationship of help, God was there, acting in them and in the other to open a breach which will be a source of Life.
For Rosalie’s personal charisma to become collective, it had to be carried by a group. What kind of life, what life project would allow us to assume such a spirituality through such an important mission? It was then women who, desiring to follow Christ, responded to this call. They gave their lives through a religious vocation. This religious community has a name that expresses and identifies their faith, their spirituality and their mission: The Community of the Sisters of Mercy. This is the third component of Charisma.
The members of the community of lay persons committed to the International Family of Mercy as a whole are imbued with the same family spirit as the Sisters and adhere to it through a commitment to the Church within the Spiritual Life and/or through a commitment to the mission within the Humanitarian Life. Many committed lay people are walking and getting involved in both aspects at the same time.
All these members, regardless of their place of commitment, are united by the Charism of Mercy and live edifying fraternal relationships within this Family. They join forces to work together to build a better world.
Within the structure of FIM, there is also a place for a group of lay people who wish to commit themselves, by private vows, to live Mercy by responding to a particular call in the Church. This community of consecrated lay people will be called to exist and be at the heart of this Family. The Holy Spirit will guide us to offer the possibility to lay people who wish to do so, to commit themselves in a more particular way to live Mercy in a vocation of consecrated life.
To keep alive and serve with fidelity the founding charism bequeathed by the Community of the Sisters of Mercy, the members of FIM form the Fraternal Life. This Fraternal Life promotes interdependence, benevolence and solicitude among its members.
It is through the International Family of Mercy that the founding charism will continue. These members will then accept to prepare and form the next generation by respecting the three fundamental and inseparable bases of the latter (Spirituality, Mission, Fraternal Life). They will commit themselves to perpetuate this sacred work so that other generations may benefit from this spiritual and human experience of Mercy that has brought enormous good to many families.
By saying yes to this legacy, these members become heirs to the Charism and some are even its guardians, appointed to protect this Charism in their environment, watching over it, making sure that it does not change its identity or vocation as much in its mission as in its spiritual dimension and fraternal life.