By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate
Associates, also known as affiliates, are lay women and men who discern and decide to formally partner themselves with a religious community’s mission and ministry and thus the charism of the order. Not all congregations have associates and those that do vary in the formation process and the way in which associates are involved in the life or support of the congregation.
Mercy Associates are women and men who respond to a call from God to Gospel holiness. They maintain individual lifestyles and build up their own lay community, but they pledge support to the Sisters of Mercy—their mission, ministries and spirituality. Many Mercy Associates are attracted to the sisters’ fourth vow of service, the story of Catherine McAuley and/or the sponsored ministries they have experienced firsthand. Some might be employees of the sisters who wish to deepen their understanding and commitment to the mission of Mercy. Some consider association a way of nurturing their spiritual life or providing opportunities for service and fellowship that they do not have.
A Mercy Associate takes a covenant, or promise, to the mission of Mercy in partnership with the Sisters of Mercy. Mercy Associates respond to the Gospel call to holiness by engaging in the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy, deepening their spirituality, partnering in prayer and action with the sisters and responding in their own personal lives to the critical needs of our time: care of Earth, anti-racism advocacy, justice for women, justice for immigrants and nonviolence.
Associates and sisters, though distinct, support each other. Though associates and sisters are called to different vocations and live different lifestyles, both believe that Mercy is the principal path for all those desirous of following Jesus Christ, in the same way that Catherine McAuley did.
Learn more about Mercy Association.
- “The Apostolate of the Laity,” a Vatican II document.
- Did you know? Associations in the United States have been growing over the last decade.