October 29, 2014

By Sisters Marian Clare V. and Bernie H.

The stone which marks center of the labyrinth.

The stone which marks center of the labyrinth.

Each year Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, offers a May invitational retreat for men and women who are marginalized and/or economically poor from shelters and social service agencies. The goal of the retreat is to give those who are struggling with poverty and other issues a time of respite with spiritual hospitality and support. The hope is God’s love comes to them through this experience.

The invitational retreat weekend was held May 16-18, organized by Sister Bernie H., Mercy Associate Margarita M., Brenda L. and Sister Marian Clare V. Over 40 people from shelters and social service agencies attended, and, as Suzanne Buckley, director of Mercy Center, noted, “This event would not be possible without support from donors, volunteers, and our staff.” Colleen – our Program Administrator and a Mercy Associate—was essential to the retreat’s success, and Cristina on our staff helped with registration, hospitality and supervision during the retreat.   Read More »

October 28, 2014

By Sister Corlita B. and Sister Mary Roch R.

Several weeks ago Sisters Corlita and Mary Roch celebrated their 60th jubilees at Mercy Center in St. Louis, Missouri. A jubilee marks a sister’s anniversary within a congregation. At the celebration, in front of a crowd of fellow jubiliarians, their families and friends, Sisters Corlita and Mary Roch spoke about how Vatican II brought Sisters of Mercy closer in touch with the mission of their founder: to reform the unjust social structures causing poverty in our world.

Jubilee Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri.

Jubilee Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sixty years of being Sisters of Mercy is a wonderful reality to celebrate! We realize that some of you were not even born then. So, we are going to reminisce a bit about life in Mercy.

On September 8, 1954, 16 young women came to the doors of St. Joseph Convent of Mercy and entered the Community of the Sisters of Mercy—five more women later joined our band (term used in religious communities that refers to their formation group).

In 1954, the theology or spirituality of religious life was quite different than it is today. At that time, it was thought that by entering the convent to dedicate one’s life to God, one cut oneself off from the sinful world. There was no reading of newspapers, no listening to radio or TV, and we had restricted contact with family and friends. This was a very disciplined lifestyle of self-denial, prayer and service to others.

So, discipline we had, as well as artistry. We learned to sing Gregorian chant, and we created some dramatic plays or skits, and we experienced quite a bit of foolishness among our activities.

We were given many rules to follow, as well as detailed directions how to carry them out in a book called Customs and Guide, which we heard daily at lecture. We were told that following the rules would make us good Sisters of Mercy.   Read More »

October 23, 2014

By Dawn Cherie Araujo, staff writer, Global Sisters Report

Sister Marlene Perrotte

Sister Marlene Perrotte

Sister of Mercy Marlene Perrotte is all too familiar with violence causing thousands of Central Americans to flee their countries: in the ‘80s when guerilla groups like the Sendero Luminoso were terrorizing Peru, she was there serving as a Maryknoll associate. She’s also worked with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, providing legal services to unaccompanied minors on the Mexico-U.S. border.

Today, she’s working with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to provide legal aid for the hundreds of Central American women and children being detained in Artesia, New Mexico. She preps detainees for their credible fear interviews – interviews with a judge to determine if an immigrant reasonably faces torture if they’re returned to their country – and she helps them fill out asylum applications. Although the Central American refugee crisis has largely fallen off the media map, Sister Marlene says we still need to pay attention.

Q: What initially drew you to Artesia?

It was knowing that these women were not part of a criminal movement, but that they truly are refugees. They are fleeing violence that cannot be controlled in their country and protecting their rights and especially protecting the lives of their children, but they don’t have any due process. I felt a very moral and ethical responsibility to do what I can, especially since my government has been so ruthless in the face of the extreme violence that they were fleeing. Read More »

October 21, 2014

By Sister Donna Marie Vaillancourt, co-director, Well of Mercy

Well of Mercy is a retreat facility for individuals in Hamptonville, North Carolina, that provides quiet sanctuary for adults seeking right relationship with self, others, God and creation.

A reflective spot to enjoy nature at Well of Mercy.

A reflective spot to enjoy nature at Well of Mercy.

Imagine that you are sitting in a quiet spot at Well of Mercy. The fall season has just arrived for a visit. What gifts does she bring? The air provides a fresh coolness. The water in the stream is clearer. You see a beautiful array of colors in the trees and you are able to see deeper into the woods as the trees drop their leaves. Flowers are fading and setting seeds for future growth. Even birds appear different as they begin migrating toward warmer weather.

The reality is that many of us won’t even notice what God, through creation, is saying to us both literally and symbolically. In our lack of awareness we may be missing the messages nature is presenting. This is the sad consequence of busy, noisy, cluttered and demanding lives. Who has time to sit still? Who desires to be alone in the woods? Who wants to still their minds and enter into the quiet? My answer is: people who are too overwhelmed and weary to do one more thing.   Read More »

October 21, 2014

Por la Hermana Donna Marie Vaillancourt, co-directora, Pozo de Misericordia

Pozo de Misericordia es un centro de retiro para individuos en Hamptonville, Carolina del Norte que brinda un santuario tranquilo para adultos que buscan la relación correcta consigo, con otros, con Dios y con la creación. 

Un lugar de reflexión para disfrutar de la naturaleza en el Pozo de Misericordia.

Un lugar de reflexión para disfrutar de la naturaleza en el Pozo de Misericordia.

Imagínese que está sentada/o en un lugar tranquilo en el Pozo de Misericordia. La temporada de otoño acaba de llegar de nuevo. ¿Qué obsequio trae? El aire proporciona un aire fresco. El agua en el arroyo es más clara. Observe la hermosa gama de colores en los árboles y puede ver más profundamente en el bosque cuando los árboles dejan caer sus hojas. Las flores se marchitan y fijan las semillas para el crecimiento futuro. Hasta los pájaros parecen diferentes mientras empiezan a migrar hacia un clima más cálido.

La realidad es que muchas/os de nosotras/os ni siquiera nos damos cuenta lo que Dios, a través de la creación, nos dice literal y simbólicamente. En nuestra falta de conciencia podemos estar desaprovechando los mensajes que la naturaleza está presentando. Ésta es la triste consecuencia de las vidas ocupadas, ruidosas, saturadas y exigentes. ¿Quién tiene tiempo para quedarse quieta/o? ¿Quién quiere estar sola/o en el bosque? ¿Quién desea silenciar su mente y entrar en la tranquilidad? Mi respuesta es: las personas que están demasiado atosigadas y cansadas para hacer una cosa más. Read More »

October 17, 2014

By Sister Pat K.

A sketch of Sister Joan in her referee’s uniform. Her veil is clearly not in the way!

A sketch of Sister Joan in her referee’s uniform. Her veil is clearly not in the way!

In the 1940s and 1950s, seeing sisters in full religious habit pitching baseballs on the playground or coaching the girls’ basketball team from the sidelines was not uncommon. But in the 1960s, when traditional habits evolved to modified versions and Vatican II encouraged religious to be more involved with the people they served, a few sisters became coaches, referees and umpires in girls’ sports. One, Sister Joan, whose skills and passion for sports were legendary, took every referee and umpire test she could, passed with flying colors and was promptly assigned to “cover” girls’ games almost every day.

There were two problems. First, as a high school teacher, her school day ended at 3:00 p.m. Games typically began at 3:30 or 4:00; most were played at some distance and getting to the site on time required a readily available car. Second, appropriate attire in the classroom—that is, her modified habit and veil—was not appropriate or even permissible on the basketball court. How to get from homeroom to a car, through a bus-clogged parking lot, down the highway to the site on time, dressed in an official’s striped shirt and shorts?   Read More »

October 16, 2014

By Kathleen Brennan, mathematics chair at Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, New Jersey

Kathleen has been a math and economics teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy since 1999.

Kathleen has been a math and economics teacher at Mount Saint Mary Academy since 1999.

It goes without saying that today’s females have career opportunities that weren’t available to them a century ago. The statistics are impressive—according to the U.S. Bureau of Census, females make up 60 percent of college graduates and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that labor participation rates of females have increased from 32 percent in 1950 to about 57 percent in 2012. Women have come a long way.

The good news is that women have made great strides in breaking the glass ceiling and closing the pay gap; the bad news is that they still lag well behind men in terms of financial literacy. Ignorance in financial matters is particularly concerning since women have unique financial challenges—while many women rely on their husbands “to handle the money,” the reality is that 90 percent of women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives due to the death of a spouse or divorce (via Financial Finesse). Clearly, a man cannot be a “financial plan.”   Read More »

October 14, 2014

By Donna Meyer, Ph.D., director of shareholder advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

In this world of plenty, 805 million people—or one in nine worldwide—live with chronic hunger and regularly do not have enough food to live an active life. More than 70 percent of food insecure people live in rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East. This number rises when including people who face seasonal food shortages or who do not eat a varied diet that includes protein, vitamins and minerals. The numbers grow increasingly alarming when considering the impact on women and children:

  • 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.
  • An estimated 26 percent of the world’s children are stunted due to malnutrition.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.

Faith communities around the world believe that access to food is a very basic human right, and every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and to have access to adequate food.   Read More »

October 9, 2014

By Sister Socorro L.

Sister Socorro L.

Sister Socorro L.

In the Philippines, two provinces in Northern Mindanao—Lanao del Norte and Misamis Occidental, located at the sides of Panguil Bay and Iligan Bay—as well as neighboring places have been threatened by the construction of coal-fired power plants. Sisters of Mercy work in those areas and our commitment to persons who are poor and to Earth compel us to speak out. Coal-fired power plants are sources of one of the most awful and dangerous “killer gases,” carbon dioxide. Black coal (carbon) is a dirty source of energy which already has been banned by European countries like England and Germany. Long ago, it was reported that the gases of these power plants killed thousands and caused debilitating effects, not only to people but also to freshwater fish and other varieties of marine life.

Now these big corporations of doom are pushing this industry to the most vulnerable countries like the Philippines, where most people are still unaware of the present situation. The corporations are not considering the poor residents and are only concerned about their own big profits.   Read More »

October 7, 2014

By Sister Ana S.

The beautiful Andes Mountains in Argentina. The clean water they supply to the country is being threatened by fracking.  cc license (BY NC ND 2.0) flickr photo shared by Márcio Cabral de Moura

The beautiful Andes Mountains in Argentina. The clean water they supply to the country is being threatened by fracking. cc license (BY NC ND 2.0) flickr photo shared by Márcio Cabral de Moura

In the south of Argentina, about three years ago, hydraulic fracking began to be promoted to extract unconventional oil and gas, as a new sort of wishful thinking that will resolve all of the energy, economic and labor problems of the area where I live: a beautiful valley that has produced fruits and vegetables for more than 100 years, which also has a large river with a large basin, which fills from the snows of the Andes mountains.

Don Carlos, a farmer who lets us use his house to hold meetings about this environmental issue, told us very angrily, “The bad smell is terrible and the air is un-breathable. They’re going to kill the river and everything… .” He was referring to the effects that the fracking wells are having on nearby fields, which are watered by a beautiful river.   Read More »