Getting to Know Mercy
June 30, 2015
By Marissa, Mercy Candidate
On June 20, the Sisters of Mercy came together in celebration and prayer to welcome Marissa as a candidate with the Sisters of Mercy. Marissa will now begin two years living in community as she prepares for life as a sister. Marissa reflects here about her call to Mercy:
I came to know Mercy as an undergraduate student at Mount Mercy University [in Cedar Rapids, Iowa]. At first, I ran away from it. When I chose Mount Mercy I had no idea there was a religious community associated with the university, let alone the convent being right there on the campus. When I learned that, I thought the only way to be part of Mercy was to be a nun. I did not come to college to become a nun, so I escaped by telling myself my only purpose there was to attain a degree.
My junior year, I was offered the opportunity to participate in Mercy Challenge, a week of living and serving side-by-side with the Sisters of Mercy and other women. This was the first time I intentionally set aside time to learn about Mercy. To be honest, I signed up to get one of the sisters off my back! But it was during that week away, that I realized that there is so much more to Mercy than vowed membership in the Community. Hearing about the life of Catherine McAuley hooked me. Catherine’s story and her “see the need, meet the need” attitude inspired me to seek out more ways that I could reach out to those wounded by contemporary society.
I returned with a changed attitude about Mercy and “mission.” I discovered this is a journey, lived in the way we relate to one another and in service to God. Everyone who journeys on the path of Mercy is transformed: you become a part of the mission and it becomes an integral part of you. The process of shaping the values of justice, compassion, and hospitality in my life began as a freshman and continued to shape me after I graduated. I spent three years serving as a residence hall minister at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois, while studying for my master’s degree. This was followed by working in campus ministry at Mount Mercy University and now caring for people with developmental and physical disabilities at Misericordia Home, also in Chicago. I cannot help but smile at how God continues to place Mercy in my life—especially when I am not actively seeking it out.
To reinforce and support my journey I joined the Sisters of Mercy as a lay associate in 2011, which, at the time, felt like a natural and necessary step. My experience as an associate was a blessing. It integrated me into the Mercy community in ways that helped me understand the many ways Mercy is brought to life in the world. However, I recently felt like something was missing and God revealed to me through my prayer life and encounters with other people that my gifts and talents would best be used as a vowed member. I can now say that I feel strongly called to living the mission of Mercy as a vowed member of the community and it is exciting to think about the possibilities this adventure will offer!
Marissa currently works as a developmental training instructor at Misericordia Home in Chicago, Illinois, providing care for non-ambulatory and mostly nonverbal individuals. She is one of four candidates being welcomed into the Sisters of Mercy this year and is among 31 women who are in the process of becoming vowed members.
Learn more about the process of becoming a sister.