Sisters of Mercy, Western Province

Walking Gently on Earth, a book produced by the Mercy Sisters, Western Province was launched on Saturday, November 26, in Knock House Hotel, Co Mayo to a packed assembly.  Éanna Ní Lamhna, environmental consultant and broadcaster did the honours on this occasion.

The book tells of the Sisters’ efforts and commitment to live more sustainably at this time so as to protect “our common home”. It was published and presented as a requirement for their Eco-Congregation Award.  The Congregation of the Mercy Sisters of the Western Province is the first ever Religious Congregation to receive this award.


L-R Sr. Catherine Brennan SSL representative and founding member of Eco- Congregation Ireland, Professor Emeritus John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, Sr. Caitlin Conneely, Provincial Leader, Western Province. John Weakliam Vita, Éanna Ni Lamhna, environmental consultant and broadcaster






The sisters were nominated for the award by the Irish NGO Vita, with whom they work in partnership in Ethiopia where they have helped create the ‘Gamo Gofa Green Zone’ model of development, i.e. a community-led sustainable development project in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia.

One speaker at the event was John Weakliam, CEO of Vita, an inspirational leader promoting next generation community-led development and implementing quantifiable climate protection through the ‘Vita Green Impact Investment Fund’(VGIIF) in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Another contributor was Professor Emeritus, John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth, a noted Environmentalist and climatologist. Professor John is joint sharer with other climatologists of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.  His input was very informative and challenging on Climate Justice and Climate Change.

The award was presented to Sr. Caitlín Conneely, Provincial Leader of the Mercy Sisters by Catherine Brennan SSL, a founding member and Catholic representative of Eco-Congregation, Ireland.

In her acceptance address Sister Caitlin spoke of the honour it was for her to accept the award and left those present with these encouraging and challenging words. ‘The call to walk gently on the earth seems simple but we know that it is very challenging for those of us who live in this part of our world. Today’s event invites each one of us and the community in general to take this call very seriously.’

We hear Pope Francis’ plea:

‘The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development….  He goes on to say

‘A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’

This is something very dear to the heart of Catherine McAuley, our Foundress.

Today it is appropriate to conclude with Pope Francis’ words of hope

Inner peace in closely related to care for ecology and for the common good, because lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced life style together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life.”

The Sisters hope that we are inspired by these words to move towards a balanced lifestyle in order to protect our common home and live in harmony with all God’s creation.

Since the launch, a copy of the book was presented to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to bring to Pope Francis for their first official meeting. He promised to bring it “within the portals of the Vatican”.