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.
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June 24, 2016

By Christine Somers, Mercy Associate and Director of Campus Ministry at Misericordia University

Kamar and Hozaifa Mando play next to their older brother, Abdulrahman. Credit: Aimee Dilger/Times Leader

Kamar and Hozaifa Mando play next to their older brother, Abdulrahman. Credit: Aimee Dilger/Times Leader

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Mercy has been made real in the lives of a Syrian refugee family that came to our community in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

It started when one of the students from our Critical Concerns Committee at Misericordia University heard about the plight of refugees on television and asked to start a collection on campus. We then learned that there was a local refugee family right in our community. We sent our students to deliver some canned goods, clothing donation and toiletries. What was about to happen next was totally unexpected.   Read More »

June 17, 2016

By Marianne Comfort, Institute Justice Team

Reflection group on Laudato Si’ in Belize: Sister Sarita Vasquez, Associate Marta Mitchell, Anita Zetina (Director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercy Center), meteorologist Frank Tench, Sister Carolee Chanona, entrepreneur Molly Doley and Sister Caritas Lawrence.

Reflection group on Laudato Si’ in Belize: Sister Sarita Vasquez, Associate Marta Mitchell, Anita Zetina (Director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mercy Center), meteorologist Frank Tench, Sister Carolee Chanona, entrepreneur Molly Doley and Sister Caritas Lawrence.

A year ago, I was joining in the celebrations of the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and its strong messaging about the need to respond to the “cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” Now it’s time to celebrate how the themes of this important document are being lived out

Lots of people report eliminating purchases of bottled water, recycling and composting more, using fewer disposable products, preparing more meatless meals, and buying more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Those are worthy immediate responses, but Pope Francis is challenging us to take more radical action. His critique of societies that prioritize financial markets and corporate profits over the needs of Earth and all people calls for an overhaul of our way of life. And that only comes out of deep prayer, reflection and discernment about what is truly ours to do individually and collectively.   Read More »

June 14, 2016

Sister Helen Bongolto entered the Sisters of Mer­cy 28 years ago in the Philippines and has performed vocation work and parish ministry; minis­tered at Mercy Community Hospital; and directed the catechetical program for the Diocese of Pagadian City. From 2010-12, she was ecology program as­sistant at Mercy Convent in Pagadian City. Since 2014, Sister Helen has directed the Mercy Center for Alterna­tive Re-creation of Earth (MCARE) program from the Sibaroc Ecology Center in Jimenez, Misamis Occi­dental. Here, she answered questions about that min­istry.

Sister Helen tends to her vegetable garden.

Sister Helen tends to her vegetable garden.

Why was the MCARE program started?

Sister Virgencita “Jenjen” Alegado (who at the time was a local leader for the sisters in the Philippines) challenged me to study ecology. So, I took courses offered by HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alterna­tive Living), run by the Medical Mission Sisters. It was hands-on study for almost three months. … When I returned to Mindanao, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to use what I learned, and I asked my local leader for land on which to begin the Mercy Center for Alterna­tive Re-creation of Earth, or MCARE. We planted native and fruit-bearing trees and herbs, created an animal farm and planted a variety of vegetables in a garden.   Read More »

June 10, 2016

By Sister Joy Clough

Cat photo from unsplashHis name is Connor. He’s gray and white with short, silky fur. He’s a talker—that is, he mews a lot. He’s a stray, and it’s not really clear who’s been taming whom: Is he hovering at the back door, morning and evening, in hopes of food, or am I heading out the back door with food because I hope he’ll be hovering?

Whichever, Connor doesn’t always hover. Originally, he ran. He hissed. He wasn’t at all sure that we big, two-footed animals were trustworthy. Yet, he was hungry. So we put out a little food and went inside, watching furtively through door or window. Then, we put down some food and backed away. Then we stayed, approached, reached out—and touched. (You’re catching the analogy here, right? Me-cat, God-me?)

The next big breakthrough came when Connor let me pick him up. Short, squirmy moments gradually stretched to comfortable cuddling. There even came a day when the touch of a cold nose on my cheek suggested real affection.   Read More »

June 2, 2016

By Karel Lucander

Sister Susan on Mercy Day 2014 with her first-grade students at Saint Peter the Apostle School in Savannah, Georgia.

Sister Susan on Mercy Day 2014 with her first-grade students at Saint Peter the Apostle School in Savannah, Georgia.

Today, as she has done for 42 years, Sister Susan Harms is teaching a wide-eyed group of eager six-year-olds. In addition to teaching these little boys and girls how to read, she imparts lessons about English, math and science, social studies and religion.

“As first-graders, they are like little sponges—there is so much information out there and they just sop it all up. They are so excited about learning, especially learning to read. A majority of them can’t read when they come into the class but by late spring they’re sailing along. To see the progress they make is unbelievable. We encourage their parents to read to them also, and to model by reading themselves,” she says.   Read More »

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May 31, 2016

By Sister Grace Agate

“We strive to witness to mercy when we reverence the dignity of each person, create a spirit of hospitality and pursue integrity in word and deed in our lives.”

Sister Grace (right) meets with coworker Connie Carlton at St. Joseph/Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.

Sister Grace (right) meets with coworker Connie Carlton at St. Joseph/Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.

These words taken from the Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy have taken on new meaning as I have reflected on the Spiritual Works of Mercy during this Jubilee Year. Both the Corporal and Spiritual Works are intertwined, for we cannot attend to the spiritual needs of people if they are not receiving the basic necessities to live. To do the works of mercy is to gaze upon our neighbor with the eyes of Jesus, knowing we, too, are in need of mercy. The Spiritual Works ask the following of us: to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to admonish sinners, to comfort the afflicted, to forgive offenses, to bear wrongs patiently, and to pray for the living and the dead. I have come to understand these works in the following ways.   Read More »

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May 31, 2016

Por Hermana Grace Agate

«Nos esforzamos por ser testigos de la misericordia cuando reverenciamos la dignidad de cada persona, creamos un espíritu de hospitalidad, y buscamos integrar la palabra y la acción en nuestras vidas».

Sister Grace (right) meets with coworker Connie Carlton at St. Joseph/Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.

Hermana Grace (derecha) se reúne con su compañera de trabajo Connie Carlton en el Hospital St. Joseph/Candler en Savannah, Georgia.

Estas palabras tomadas de las Constituciones de las Hermanas de la Misericordia han adquirido  nuevo sentido  para mí al reflexionar sobre las Obras Espirituales de Misericordia durante este Año Jubilar de la Misericordia.  Las obras Corporales y Espirituales de la Misericordia están entrelazadas, puesto que no podemos atender a las necesidades espirituales de las personas si ellas no están recibiendo las necesidades básicas para vivir.  Hacer las obras de la Misericordia es mirar al prójimo con los ojos de Jesús, sabiendo que también nosotras, necesitamos misericordia.  Las Obras Espirituales de la Misericordia nos piden lo siguiente: dar buen consejo a quien lo necesita, instruir a quien no sabe, corregir a quien yerra, consolar al triste, perdonar las ofensas, soportar con paciencia los defectos de los demás,  y orar por los vivos y los difuntos.  Yo he llegado a comprender estas obras de la misericordia en las siguientes maneras:

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May 27, 2016

Two Civil Wars, a new book from LSU Press

Two Civil Wars, a new book from LSU Press

Celeste Repp—a future Sister of Mercy—was a Catholic schoolgirl in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the eve of the Civil War. The 13-year-old, penning compositions in French in a female academy in 1859-60, had no idea that war was about to sweep away much of the world she held dear. Nor could she have imagined that this very school notebook, with its candid personal notations, would end up in the hands of a Union sailor engaged in the siege and occupation of her city.

But that is what happened in the chaos of war.  And it is, ironically, because the sailor decided to record his own shipboard diary in Celeste’s notebook, that her own words have survived alongside his.

Katherine Bentley Jeffrey encountered this remarkable double journal in Quebec, in the hands of descendants of the sailor, William Park.  The detailed military diary kept by Park aboard a Union gunboat is itself extraordinary. But as Katherine researched the document’s two unlikely authors, she became deeply attached to Celeste and her family and community in Baton Rouge: the resourceful, twice-widowed Catholic grandmother who became guardian to Celeste and her siblings when they were orphaned; Celeste’s brilliant headmistress who, as a Catholic convert and unmarried lay teacher, endured much distrust and prejudice; Celeste’s priest and French instructor who went on to become a beloved Confederate chaplain.   Read More »

May 26, 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 first piece, we look at sisters who cared for the sick during the flu pandemic of 1918.

Volunteer sister nurses outside hospital barracks at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, 1918.

Volunteer sister nurses outside hospital barracks at Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, 1918.

In 1918, as the United States mobilized soldiers to fight in World War I, the influenza pandemic struck. The disease was unusual in that it hit younger, healthier populations especially hard—in particular, young soldiers crowding into camps for military training. Military training camp Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, was quickly overwhelmed by the number of flu cases. In desperate need of nurses, one Catholic chaplain turned to local religious communities for help.   Read More »

May 20, 2016

By Sister Lorraine La Vigne, LMFT

Pope Francis embraces a baby in St. Peter’s Square. Credit: Catholic News Agency/Alexey Gotoviskyi.

Pope Francis embraces a baby in St. Peter’s Square. Credit: Catholic News Agency/Alexey Gotoviskyi.

As a marriage and family therapist (MFT), I read with interest what Pope Francis has written in Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), his apostolic exhortation on the family that was released on April 8. In my practice I have found many struggling with where life has brought them and feeling alienated by a church that seems to have little compassion or understanding for them and their situations.

This document seems to offer some hope as Pope Francis reminds clergy not to “waste pastoral energy denouncing” and “to make room for the conscience of the faithful.” These could be reassuring statements for my clients. Such statements carry with them a respect as well as a trust and understanding that serious decisions in complex situations are made with careful discernment and consultation.   Read More »