Connect with Mercy

Human Rights Situation in the Philippines

January 13, 2017

By Sister Virgencita (Jenjen) Alegado

Logo celebrating the Mindanao Week of Peace in November 2016. Mercy sisters used this week as an opportunity to speak out about the protection of human rights.

Logo celebrating the Mindanao Week of Peace in November 2016. Mercy sisters used this week as an opportunity to speak out about the protection of human rights.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution is a rich repository of human rights. Article II, Section 2 states that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect of human rights. However, this remains an aspiration since our country has always been experiencing violations of human rights. Even before Martial Law years (1972-1986) there had been experiences of human rights violations, which worsened during Martial Law. The succeeding presidents did not improve this situation. People had high hopes for a change in the country with the election of Rodrigo Duterte to presidency last May 9, 2016. Since he assumed the office seven months ago, his two strong advocacies are on “war on drugs” and “anti- corruption.” There is a decreasing population of drug traders and users, but there is an increase on extrajudicial killings. Pushers, users and other forms of drug users or traders are either killed or rehabilitated. However, many are killed. There is no more due process of law.   Read More »

We Are One on a Migrant Journey

January 9, 2017

By Sister Kathleen Erickson

“I believe the people of North America have a great role to play in the survival of the world. They have a capacity for passion when they realize the truth, but are stuck right now in a big cloud of disinformation. It will take super-human effort to break through … so many things separate us from being one.” -Michelle Najlis, Nicaraguan poet, to a Witness for Peace group from the United States, 1985

I worked at the U.S.-Mexico border for 18 years, spent time in Latin America, served two months as interim chaplain in the South Texas “Family Residential Center” and visited hundreds of detained immigrants in a federal detention center and a county jail.

As you read this, millions of people have no home on Earth. Refugees are fleeing war, living in camps, drowning as they try to get to any country that will still accept them. Violence is escalating, and fear grows.

A wooden cross with a variety of metal religious symbols attached to its surface.

A cross found in a desert crossing area, discarded by immigrants crossing to U.S. Mexico border.

Do you sometimes feel sorrow in your very being, as I do? Do you grapple with your own comfort, realize guilt is not the answer, and wonder what is?

In the United States, thousands of immigrant families are separated, and mothers and fathers fight despair in prisons, county jails and detention centers. More than once, sitting across from someone who cannot stop crying has flooded my soul with the realization: their despair is my despair. Immigrants are us. The journey of refugees haunts us.   Read More »

All Things are Possible with Mercy

January 6, 2017

By Sister Mary Paulinus Oakes

This blog opens with a very sad incident that is troubling to read—yet becomes a beautiful story of forgiveness when it seems impossible. But all things are possible with God!

This is the most beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption I have ever witnessed.

gl0linjwdhm-vitalyThomas was a teenager in the 1960s. He was a baptized Catholic, a Boy Scout; but he had lost his mother early in his teens and unfortunately became involved in the drug culture in his late teens. One day, high on angel dust, he staggered out into the streets at noon, saw a mother with a newborn, grabbed the baby from her arms and flung the child to the ground. The infant died immediately.

Years after were blurry for both the baby’s mother and the perpetrator. Thomas was sentenced to the state penitentiary; the mother of the infant went into a stage of deep grief and her marriage fell apart. But she did keep her job as a parish secretary. The adjoining school was staffed by Sisters of Mercy.   Read More »

Todo es Posible con la Misericordia

January 6, 2017

Por la Hermana Mary Paulinus Oakes

Este blog abre con un incidente muy triste que es perturbador al leer. Sin embargo se convierte en una bella historia de perdón cuando parece imposible. ¡Pero para Dios todo es posible!

Ésta es la más hermosa historia de perdón y redención que hasta ahora he presenciado.

gl0linjwdhm-vitalyTomás era un adolescente en los años 1960. Había sido bautizado como católico, era Boy Scout; pero su madre murió cuando él empezaba su adolescencia y desafortunadamente se involucró con la cultura de la droga en los últimos años de su adolescencia. Un día, endrogado con polvo de ángel, salió tambaleándose a las calles al mediodía, vio a una mamá con su recién nacido, le arrancó al bebé de sus brazos y lo arrojó al suelo. El infante murió inmediatamente.

Años después eso era borroso tanto para la madre del bebé como para el perpetrador. Tomás fue condenado a la penitenciaría estatal; la madre del bebé entró en una etapa de profundo dolor y su matrimonio naufragó. Pero sí siguió en su trabajo como secretaria de la parroquia. Las Hermanas de la Misericordia enseñaban en la escuela parroquial adjunta.   Read More »

Art, Spirituality and Justice

January 5, 2017

By Amanda LePoire

Sister Corlita Bonnarens works on a clay piece in her art studio at Mercy Center Campus in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sister Corlita Bonnarens works on a clay piece in her art studio at Mercy Center Campus in St. Louis, Missouri.

From an outdoor labyrinth for prayer and reflection, to a mosaic font in the chapel and framed watercolors in the hallways, Sister Corlita Bonnarens’ presence echoes throughout the 70-plus acres of Mercy Center Campus in St. Louis, Missouri.

After earning a master’s degree in art and teaching in secondary schools for 18 years, it was a one-year program on art, spirituality and justice that planted the seed for her current ministry. The program, which appealed to Sister Corlita’s love of art and her respect for creation and ecology, led her to earn a master’s degree in spirituality. After completing her degree, she asked if she could start a program that integrated art, spirituality and justice. Sister Corlita believed that “If I’m supposed to do this, things will fall in place.” Thirty-four years later, she says, “Things fell in place.”   Read More »

Do the Works of Mercy Matter Today?

January 4, 2017

By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate


Chicago, Illinois, where Mark Piper lives with his family.

Over the past few weeks I’ve tried to come up with answers regarding both national turmoil in the United States as well as local turmoil, particularly racial animus, stemming from a police-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a young man on the far South Side of Chicago, where my family and I make our home. When I feel I need to be at the ready if someone asks me a question fraught with thorny complexity or controversy, I do what I suspect many folks do: I talk with trusted friends and confidants to get their perspective; I listen to my spouse; I fall back upon my memory of books that I’ve found useful and pull them off the shelves for insights and inspiration. I have done all of that, and I’ve done one thing more: I’ve grappled with the Works of Mercy and how one ought to employ them at a time like this.   Read More »

This Christmas Eve Morning

December 22, 2016

By Sister Renee Yann

PhotoIn the stillness of this Christmas Eve morning, I prayerfully count the gifts waiting to be opened again and again into my life:

… that I have been given eternal life by the breath of God

… that I have been wrapped in the love of a family, still blessing me both from heaven and on Earth

… that I live among the sweet souls of my sisters

… that I have been allowed to share in God’s ministry of mercy

… that my friends daily show me the loving, joyous and truthful face of God

… that my life has both joys and sorrows so that I may grow in understanding the mystery of God

… that in all things, God is ever with me and, therefore, all is and will be well.

What a beautiful day to be blessed by the anticipation of these gifts, renewed again and again in Christmas Eve quiet. May we all find joy in the true gifts in our lives on this Christmas Eve.

‘Twas the Day before Christmas in 1965…

December 20, 2016

By Don Wiegand

Christmas Eve 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

I grew up in Chesterfield, an outskirt of St. Louis, Missouri. I loved making art and building treehouses. In September 1962, I started at Mercy High School, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw Sister Mary Eligius Shannaberger. Just by the way that others walked around her in the hallway, I could tell she was not someone to mess with. She had an intimidating presence and a serious face. Well, she later became one of my best friends.   Read More »

Advent 2016 blog series from the Sisters of Mercy of the America

The Fourth Week of Advent: A Time for Hopeful Waiting

December 16, 2016

By Sister Debbie-Ann Chambers, apostolic novice

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:9). This year, as we await the coming of the light of Christ, we invite you to reflect on the meaning of Advent through diverse perspectives in our Mercy family. This reflection for the fourth week of Advent is written by Sister Debbie-Ann, a Mercy apostolic novice from Jamaica. Read other reflections in our 2016 Advent series.

hope (1)If you asked me to define Advent, I would say that it is a time of hopeful waiting.

If you also asked me what I am waiting for, or how I am waiting with hope, I’d probably feel a stirring in my heart and tell you of my life’s passion. I would say, I am waiting for the Kingdom of God—for right relationships and freedom for the poor and the captive.

In this time of overwhelming oppression of the poor, racial and ethnic discrimination and all other sorts of prejudice, you might confide in me that you are struggling with hope. I would listen and empathize with the difficulty of living our “already but not yet” belief in the Kingdom of God. Then, I would share this with you: hope, I have learned from my favorite writer, Paulo Freire, is not a wishy-washy virtue, a frivolous illusion or an act of wishful thinking. It is commitment to struggle and a commitment to looking for the opportunities for transformation, no matter the obstacles.   Read More »

“Select in Every Particular”—Mercy Education in Grass Valley, California

December 12, 2016

By Betsy Johnson, archivist at Mercy Heritage Center

During the Year of Mercy, Mercy Heritage Center is highlighting stories of the works of mercy found in our historical collections. In our final piece, we look at Mt. St. Mary Academy in Grass Valley, California.

2013.04GrassValley1SMUrsulaOConnorsMusicPupils (1280x1068)

Sister Mary Ursula and her music pupils at Mt. St. Mary’s Academy, late 1800s. Credit: Omaha Regional Community Collection, Mercy Heritage Center.

Throughout the nineteenth century, reaching out to those in need meant establishing a Mercy presence on geographical margins—in developing cities as well as the frontier towns of the “Wild West.” The archives abound with stories of sisters boarding steamers, trains and wagons to minister in far-flung destinations. Arriving in their new communities, these adventurous sisters immediately began to provide educational opportunities to those in need.

In other locations, such as the mining town of Grass Valley, California, the primary need was the care of orphans. Due to the extreme danger inherent to mining life, there were many orphan children for the sisters to care for and educate. With this in mind seven sisters embarked on the journey to Grass Valley from San Francisco, arriving in their new home in August 1863.   Read More »