Going to Guyana

August 1, 2020

 By Mitchell Marsh, Mercyhurst University

In January 2020, I traveled with 10 others from Mercyhurst University to Georgetown, Guyana, where we learned about how the Sisters of Mercy in Guyana are meeting needs of people of all ages through their ministries. The experience was eye-opening and life-changing for us. It shed light on how Sisters of Mercy live out their faith.

At St. John Bosco’s Boy Orphanage, Mercyhurst students played soccer and games with the children
At St. John Bosco’s Boy Orphanage, Mercyhurst students played soccer and games with the children

We spent afternoons at St. John Bosco’s Boys Orphanage where we hung out with the boys playing soccer, games and swinging them around like helicopters in circles. We learned about a Sister of Mercy who, in her 90s, started a safe house for victims of human trafficking. We toured St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and two HIV/AIDS clinics where we listened to compassionate and caring staff who did so much with few resources. We visited Mercy Wings, a vocational/trade school for youth. And we sang with the elderly residents at the Sisters of Charity home that also housed a soup kitchen.

In order to provide a glimpse into our experience, below are reflections written by me and some of my fellow students.

In a first for many of them, the Mercyhurst students learned to play cricket and then relaxed afterward on the beach.
In a first for many of them, the Mercyhurst students learned to play cricket and then relaxed afterward on the beach.

“I admire and give great thanks for these women and the services they are able to provide to children, older adults and others. While many of these ministries could do so much more with additional resources, what they continue to accomplish with what they are given positively impacts many lives.”
– Rachel Sallach


“By being there and being able to see what I was doing first-hand and how it helped the kids each day, I realized just how important it is to be grateful for the little things. It was one of my biggest takeaways from the trip and I think it lines up perfectly with the meaning and general concept of being a global citizen.”
– Kenzie Galvin –


It was easy for the Mercyhurst students to fall in love with Guyana!
It was easy for the Mercyhurst students to fall in love with Guyana!

“The Bosco boys will always hold a special place in my heart. Learning about the boys, playing with them, laughing and smiling with them has helped heal me in a spiritual sense.”
– Hannah Vuylsteke


“I am leaving the Guyana trip feeling more hopeful and refreshed. There is a lot of hurt in the world, but also so much goodness. Each day we have a chance to bring some form of restoration to the world, and we must use that responsibility well.”
– Becca King


 “The role of a global citizen was solidified for me during the trip in Guyana when I visited the Mercy Hospital. The hospital was very impactful for me because of the lack of supplies they had, but the level of care that they were reaching with few supplies.”
– Lydia Zurinsky


Mercyhurst students visit A Sanctuary, a home for children with no family to care for them, in the interior of Guyana.
Mercyhurst students visit A Sanctuary, a home for children with no family to care for them, in the interior of Guyana.

“It starts with one person caring about others, living that out in their corner of the world and having a ripple effect to others. I have also learned that this is not easily done. Being a global citizen requires a daily consciousness towards cultivating these traits. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”
– Rachel Sallach


“On this trip, I experienced the vast problems with the world. We witnessed poverty, corruption, hunger, abandonment, rejection, neglect, trash, human trafficking, racism, abuse and homelessness. We also witnessed so much more. We experienced the glorious power of singing with ‘Grannies,’ and we felt a sense of compassion for the hungry at the Sisters of Charity. We experienced smiles and laughter with the boys at Bosco. We spoke with dedicated educators committed to serving their students at David Rose, Mercy Wings and Bosco. We listened to political advertisements and professionals explain the hope they have for their country with the upcoming election. We heard the need of a safe environment met with the Sisters of Mercy Safe House. We conversed with locals about their love for their country and experienced their hospitality as complete strangers on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Most of all, we understood the joy the people of Guyana have and radiate through their professions, their day to day lives, and their interactions. This joy, even with all the problems listed above, is so powerful. It is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
– Mitchell Marsh


We grew tremendously from this experience and now, more than ever, we want to make a positive difference in the world.  I thank the sisters for all that they do and continue to do for the people of Guyana. I am so grateful to the sisters for allowing us to learn so much about their mission, and to all those who accompanied us on this life-changing trip.

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  1. Sue LaVoie, Companion in Mercy

    Oh, what a beautiful article! So many lives changed. I loved hearing the different students’ reflections and how it impacted their hearts.


  2. Sister Patty Cook, RSM

    Thanks, Mitchell, for the sharing of your wonderful experience in Guyana with us. You and the students look so happy in the photos you inserted into the story. God is certainly blessing your overflow of generosity in the going …..and the giving of yourselves. THANKS!

    In 2018, I had the beautiful experience of giving a retreat for the Sisters of Mercy in Guyana, and it touched me deeply…..you will understand why! Their Mercy ministry and mission are so obvious and heart-felt.


  3. Kathy Wade, Mercy Associate

    Thank you for sharing your experience getting to know the amazing people, Mercy ministries, sisters and associates in Guyana. I had the privilege of traveling with Mercy sisters during the Leadership Development Program in 2012, and being immersed in Guyana’s rich culture and history. It truly was life-changing for many of us. I can sense the joy and power in your words!


  4. Sister Janet Peters

    Sister Paula, a Sister of Mercy from Watertown, N.Y. spent twelve years in Guyana. I think Sister Enda was also there. Usually any conversation mentioned something about Guyana. Sister Paula Richards and Sister Enda Keggins loved their time there. They died several years ago. The Sisters in Watertown always had a special connection because of their experiences.


  5. Lucy Calvillo

    Thank you for being willing to face poverty and see richness in people who are different and still the same as “we” are.


  6. Janet Rozzano

    It was inspiring to read your comments about your trip to Guyana. It sounds like that in-person experience made what you had learned in the classroom come alive with new depth and urgency. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Fr. Jim Piszker

    I am incredibly proud of these students who have made and are making a commitment to effect change in the world. As chaplain at Mercyhurst University, I have seen this happen over and over again as we send students out into the world locally and globally, returning with their eyes opened and their hearts full. Blessings to all of them and to the Sisters of Mercy through their ministries for making the world a little bit better every day.