Sister Deirdre Mullan named Misericordia University commencement speaker

First Posted: 11/11/2014

Sister Deirdre Mullan, RSM, PhD, executive director of Mercy Reaches Mercy and a consultant director to UNICEF will deliver the keynote address at Misericordia University’s fourth annual winter commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 14 in the Anderson Sports and Health Center on campus. A baccalaureate Mass will precede the ceremony in the Anderson Center at 10:30 a.m.

“Sister Deirdre has personally touched countless people through her leadership and deeds. Our graduates, and their family and friends are looking forward to hearing her discuss her global vision of Mercy and Justice,’’ said Misericordia University President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D. “As Misericordia University continues to expand learning opportunities for its students around the world, it is important to acknowledge and learn about the impact our Sisters of Mercy have had on people both near and far since Catherine McAuley began helping those less fortunate.”

For more than 10 years, Sister Mullan served as the executive director of Mercy Global Concern at the United Nations, which serves as a mechanism for the Sisters of Mercy to advocate on behalf of the world’s neediest and underrepresented people. She then served as the executive director of the Partnership for Global Justice, an international collaboration of more than 125 religious communities affiliated with the U.N. As its director, Sister Mullan utilized her voice within the large network of international bodies at the U.N. to campaign for the less privileged through programs that include the Working Group on Girls, Poverty and Climate Change, Eradication of Poverty, Social Development and Education for Global Citizenship.

Since 1998, she has spearheaded Mercy Reaches Mercy, an organization that promotes the education of girls throughout the developing world. Since March 2014, she has acted as a consultant to UNICEF, and is helping to identify and establish a partnership between UNICEF and women religious on the ground so that UNICEF can find ways to partner with women religious in projects that benefit children around the globe.

“I have extensive experience as a keynote speaker at conferences and workshops across the globe,’’ said Sister Mullan, who has presented at dozens of conferences from Ireland to Australia and from the United States to New Zealand. “What I am learning is that we need to educate people to become global citizens if we are to repair our broken world. Young people across the world are both receptive and engaged with this idea.’’

On the international front, Sister Mullan has raised significant funding from various sources throughout the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom in support of the construction and operation of schools and in the establishment of scholarships in Cambodia, Kenya, Guyana, Zambia, Philippines, South Africa and more.

Sister Mullan grew up in Northern Ireland. For more than 20 years, she taught in Derry at St. Mary’s College and Thornhill College. In 1996, she was appointed by the secretary of state for Northern Ireland to be part of a group examining the under-representation of women, Catholics and ethnic minorities in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The group’s report helped to shape the new police force of Northern Ireland.

In 1998, Sister Mullan coordinated “The Dance of Co-Existence Project,’’ which brought together Protestant and Catholic teenagers to look at each other’s history and culture and to express their differences and understandings in dance. The group of young people was invited to perform in Dublin for the president of Ireland and representatives of all second-level schools in Ireland.

She also raised significant funding and organized and coordinated a series of International Conference of Sisters of Mercy at the U.N. in New York City. These conferences, known as “Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice,” enabled sisters from around the world to come to the U.N., learn how it works, meet representatives from their country-specific U.N. missions, interact with other international non-governmental organizations, and meet and learn from experts around the world.

“By meeting with global experts and other Sisters of Mercy, we are able to get a concrete sense of how Mercy is able to have an impact both locally and internationally,’’ Sister Mullan said. “The United Nations is an international connecting point of the rich with the poor, the expert with the learner, the Church with the world and Mercy with Justice.’’

Sister Mullan holds a PhD on the Feminization of Poverty, a Master of Arts in educational administration from the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, a Bachelor of Arts degree in social science from the Open University at Queens, Belfast, Northern Ireland and a diploma in education with distinction from the University of Nottingham, England.

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