Connect With Mercy

Read about how sisters, associates, companions, volunteers, social justice advocates, staff and friends of Mercy live and experience the spirit of responding to the needs of those who are poor, sick and uneducated.

November 21, 2014

By Catherine Walsh, Northeast Communications Specialist

Sister Assunta at a recent Mercy gathering.

Sister Assunta at a recent Mercy gathering

Sister Assunta’s life has been shaped by loving, powerful women—her birth mother, her adoptive mother and the Sisters of Mercy who took her and her identical twin sister in as 1-year-old babies nearly 70 years ago.

The Sisters of Mercy are sharing Sister Assunta’s adoption story in order to raise awareness about adoption during November, National Adoption Month (read the first story in these series).

Sister Assunta, who was called Cindy, and her twin, Sandy, were born prematurely in March 1944. Elsie, their birth mother, had endured a difficult pregnancy. Their birth father, died a month after the twins were born. For the next year, Elsie struggled to care for her twins. She sought medical help for baby Cindy (Sister Assunta), who was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

For reasons still unclear to Sister Assunta and Sandy, Elsie brought them to an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy in Manchester, New Hampshire, in the spring of 1945, and put them up for adoption. The twins stayed with the sisters and were in and out of foster care until they were nearly six. Neither twin remembers much from that time. “I know the sisters were good to us because they found a couple to adopt us,” says Sister Assunta.

The couple, Joseph and Margaret, who were 57 and 50 respectively, had always wanted to be parents. “My mother used to tell me that I crawled onto Dad’s lap and he was hooked!” says Sister Assunta, who wasn’t walking then because of her cerebral palsy.   Read More »

November 20, 2014

By Karel B. Lucander

Sister Carol Anne helps two eighth-grade students at St. John’s identify macro-invertebrates obtained from a local stream to determine the water quality. Some of the organisms are later imitated in fly tying classes as part of their art curriculum.

Sister Carol Anne helps two eighth-grade students at St. John’s identify macro-invertebrates obtained from a local stream to determine the water quality. Some of the organisms are later imitated in fly tying classes as part of their art curriculum.

As the current flows past, Sister Carol Anne Corley wades into the stream, loosely gripping her rod. She anticipates the comfortable rhythm she’ll fall into casting her fly on the water. She relishes this tranquil time immersed completely in the embrace of nature. She has been fishing since she was 3 years old, but her passion for fly-fishing and fly tying began four decades later.

Sister Carol Anne has been a Sister of Mercy since 1963, and the discipleship references to fishing are not lost on her. She has taught many children and adults how to fly-fish but even more fundamentally, she also has taught them how to create flies that imitate natural organisms. And she extends that lesson even further to encompass stewardship of the environment and respect for the creatures that inhabit it. What began as a simple class in the art of tying flies using pieces of yarn, feathers, tails of road-kill squirrels, and treasures in the craft store clearance bin has spun into a full-blown course called “Fly Tying On A Shoestring” for adults and children. Yet, her prime audience happens to be the future stewards of our earth. Since 2001, her ministry has been as environmental studies teacher and coordinator of English as a Second Language at St. John’s Elementary School in Hot Springs, Ark. Here, she also coordinates the “Stream Team,” the classroom aquarium program, and the annual science fair and teaches fly tying as part of the art program. And she assists with dissection labs for some of the fifth- through eighth-grade classes.   Read More »

November 18, 2014

By Sister Margretta, therapist and volunteer at the Peace House

A homeless woman in Indianapolis, Indiana cc license (BY NC SA 2.0) photo shared by Rob Slaven

A woman who is homeless in Indianapolis, Indiana cc license (BY NC SA 2.0) photo from Rob Slaven

Society has difficulty understanding women who are homeless. I volunteer at Peace House Community, a day shelter located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It serves those who are without a home, women and men, plus those who are economically poor.

Patricia and Sue (both names have been changed) approached me wanting to tell the stories of women on the streets. They want to share the stories with other people. I said I would take their words, write them up, and share them. This is a good time, for this November 15-23 is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Editor’s Note: Some of these stories may be hard to read; they paint a difficult picture for us to see. We hope by sharing these women’s stories, we can raise more awareness about the situation—urging individuals, nonprofits and our government to seek new ways of helping some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Sue’s Story

Once upon a time, a girl/woman lived in the forest. Now some women live on the streets where wolves and scary creatures of the night are still there.

My name is Sue. I have lived in three shelters. In the three shelters, the most dangerous was doing the laundry at night. It was my job to help. Being disabled, I was always fearful of an attack and that I would not be able to avoid it.   Read More »

November 14, 2014

By Sister Eileen Smith, director, Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer

Sisters Mary Jo, Theresina, Laura and Eileen with Father Jim. “Blessed am I among women!” he remarked on Facebook.

Sisters Mary Jo, Theresina, Laura and Eileen with Father Jim. “Blessed am I among women!” he remarked on Facebook.

I first wrote to Father James Martin in the fall of 2012 requesting that he speak at Mount Saint Mary House of Prayer in Watchung, New Jersey, a Mercy-sponsored spiritual center. We knew and loved him through his books and heard he was a dynamic speaker.

At the time, he was working on a new book and asked if we might consider a date in 2014 instead. We agreed on October 15, 2014—and Father Jim was excited to speak on the topic of his recently published book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage.

By the time of the program, we had at least 425 registrations for the event. This far exceeded our expectations. We were just overwhelmed with joy that so many people were excited about his coming.   Read More »

November 14, 2014

Por Hermana Eileen Smith, directora, Casa de Oración Mount Saint Mary

Hermanas Mary Jo, Theresina, Laura y Eileen con el Padre Jim.  «¡Bendito soy entre las mujeres!» comentó en Facebook.

Hermanas Mary Jo, Theresina, Laura y Eileen con el Padre Jim. «¡Bendito soy entre las mujeres!» comentó en Facebook.

La primera vez que le escribí al Padre James Martin fue en el otoño de 2012 solicitándole que hablara en la Casa de Oración Mount Saint Mary en Watchung, Nueva Jersey, un centro espiritual patrocinado por la Misericordia. Lo conocíamos y amábamos por medio de sus libros y escuchamos que era un orador dinámico.

En ese entonces, él estaba trabajando en un nuevo libro y nos preguntó si podríamos considerar en vez una fecha en el 2014. Acordamos el 15 de octubre de 2014—y el Padre Jim estaba emocionado sobre el tema de su libro recientemente publicado, Jesús: Un peregrinar.

En la fecha del programa, tuvimos por lo menos 425 inscripciones para el evento. Esto sobrepasó nuestras expectativas. Sentimos una inmensa alegría que tantas personas estuvieran entusiasmadas por su llegada. Read More »

November 12, 2014

Excerpted from the newsletter of the Caribbean, Central America, South America Community

Sister Dorothy traveled over mountainous terrain to visit and enliven the faith in small Honduran villages.

Sister Dorothy traveled over mountainous terrain to visit and enliven the faith in small Honduran villages.

Sister Dorothy P. came to Honduras in 1976 and has given herself tirelessly to serve the Hondurans, especially in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Puerto Cortés. Recently she announced that she would be returning to the United States after 38 “very happy years” in Honduras. “The Lord is telling me that it is time to leave,” she said.

Yet even in her absence, Sister Dorothy’s footprints have made an indelible mark on the history of Puerto Cortés. As a missionary she visited almost all parish communities, no matter the distances or weather situations in the mountainous terrain. She helped to coordinate a team of lay ministers within 54 villages who can celebrate the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays and other religious holidays in the absence of a priest. She also played a major role in the formation of catechists to teach the faith to children in Puerto Cortés. The children adored her and she showered them with joy and candy, helping the little ones feel how important they are.   Read More »

November 11, 2014

By Cindy Kamp, professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois

Saint Xavier University was founded and is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Youth from the Precious Blood Center visit Saint Xavier University

Youth from the Precious Blood Center visit Saint Xavier University

Chicago has gotten a lot of press recently for the number of deaths by handgun. Those of us on the south side and in the near south suburbs live in an atmosphere suffused with daily violence. Headlines such as “70 Wounded on Warm Chicago Weekend” have become commonplace. One evening last fall 13 people were shot in a local park in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Many of the dead and wounded are children and teenagers, as was the case in this particular incident.

THE BACK OF THE YARDS

In 2014 the nonviolence class that I have been teaching at Saint Xavier University in Chicago became a community based learning (CBL) course. This meant that the students and I got out of the classroom and connected our learning to the greater Chicago area where there are many problems involving violence and a need for more nonviolent solutions. A requirement for CBL coursework is that the students and the community partner both gain substantive benefit from the experience, and in this way CBL differs from traditional service learning which tends to be more one-sided. It also requires ongoing reflection throughout the semester which took the form of online journal entries and classroom discussion (stay tuned—we’ll be sharing some of these student reflections later this month).

In the spring semester we partnered with the Precious Blood Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, run by the Precious Blood religious order and Father Denny Kinderman, Father David Kelly and Sister Donna Liette.

The Back of the Yards is a community that struggles with poverty, unemployment, gangs, and drug trafficking. Precious Blood Center works with young people who have had some contact with the juvenile justice system in Chicago and tries to provide support in a variety of forms.

A vacant lot in South Chicago (cc license (BY NC SA 2.0) photo shared by Eric Allix Rogers)

A vacant lot in South Chicago (cc license (BY NC SA 2.0) photo shared by Eric Allix Rogers)

Simply the drive into a different neighborhood just thirty minutes from our campus was eye opening. We saw numerous boarded up homes and businesses, graffiti and garbage, huge potholes, and vacant lots – in some parts of south Chicago the prairie is re-establishing itself due to the number of homes that have been condemned and torn down.   Read More »

November 10, 2014

By Catherine Walsh, Northeast Communications Specialist

Sister Janice (left), age 1, with her big sister Sharon, age 4, in this portrait from 1950.

Sister Janice (left), age 1, with her big sister Sharon, age 4, in this portrait from 1950.

As a roly-poly six-month-old, Sister Janice K. won her parents’ hearts. “They always made me feel very special,” says Sister Janice. “I always knew that they had wanted me.”

Being adopted was a “great gift,” says Sister Janice, which has shaped her call to Mercy in significant ways. The Sisters of Mercy are sharing her story and those of other members of the Mercy family in order to raise awareness about adoption during November, National Adoption Month.

Born in 1949 to a young, single woman, baby Janice was placed in St. Agnes Home in Hartford, Connecticut, which was founded by the Sisters of Mercy and is today a residential center for pregnant and parenting adolescent mothers. It is marking its centennial year. Sister Janice sometimes jokes that she had “early roots in Mercy” because she was cared for by Sisters of Mercy in her infancy.

As it turned out, Janice’s adoptive mother had herself been adopted and so didn’t hesitate to consider this option after several miscarriages. She and Janice’s adoptive father yearned for a sibling for Janice’s older sister, Sharon. Although Janice’s mother would later have another biological daughter, Lois, Janice says her sense of being chosen and cherished was always reinforced by both parents. Her father, a supervisor at the aviation company Pratt & Whitney, made her feel particularly special.

“When I was five or six, my father would put me on his lap and tell me this wonderful princess story, of how he and Mom went to look for me and picked me out and brought me home,” recalls Sister Janice. “He was a very good storyteller and I would ask him to tell me the story again and again!”   Read More »

November 6, 2014

By Karel B. Lucander

Since 2008, Sister Trish Rice has been serving in physicians’ offices for Mercy Health Physicians in Cincinnati, Ohio. Above, pictured in her office.

Since 2008, Sister Trish Rice has been serving in physicians’ offices for Mercy Health Physicians in Cincinnati, Ohio. Above, pictured in her office.

Sister Trish Rice knew in 8th grade that she wanted to be a nun, despite her father’s dismay and attempt to dissuade her. After she graduated from Holy Family High School, she left her home in Columbus, Ohio, and joined the Sisters of Mercy in Cincinnati,
Ohio, professing her first vows
on August 16, 1966.

“My mom was thrilled, but as a non-Catholic it took my father a long time to come around. Every time he came to visit, he brought a suitcase with my clothes to take me home. Eventually he resolved this, thanks to one of the sisters there who counseled him,” she says.

Now, Sister Trish is the one counseling others, and her ministry helps them to move toward becoming whole people — body, mind and spirit. Since 2008, she has been serving in physicians’ offices for Mercy Health Physicians in Cincinnati. Prior to her current ministry, she taught high-school and college math, was director of vocations, worked at a community mental health center, and was a clinical supervisor at a crisis care center. Interestingly, Sister Trish believes her math background has been pivotal to her counseling.   Read More »

November 4, 2014

By Lauren P., senior, Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to ever receive the Liberty Medal

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to ever receive the Liberty Medal

There is no single word that can even begin to describe the best experience of my life. On October 21, 2014, I was completely surrounded, in such an intimate setting, with a legion of influential people who strive to make a difference and have an actual say in the significantly complex issues present in our world.

When I first found out that I would be among a group of Gwynedd Mercy Academy students going to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to see Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai become the youngest person to ever receive the Liberty Medal, my level of excitement reached an all-time high. Never did I imagine that I would ever be chosen to receive one of the very special tickets to attend the Chairman’s Reception, VIP ceremony seating and gala reception—not to mention be one of the fifty groups to have a formal photograph taken with Malala and her father. This was truly a blessing from God.

My anticipation continued to escalate until I was standing at the gates of the National Constitution Center. Once we entered the reception room, it all became real. We met numerous inspirational people, some of whom introduced themselves to us. It was amazing to feel so important in a room filled with such esteemed company.   Read More »