July 30, 2014

By Sister Dina A.

A desperate mother searches for her teenage daughter who was trafficked into a brothel. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

A desperate mother searches for her teenage daughter who was trafficked into a brothel. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

In considering the issue of human trafficking, it seems that in Panama this scourge has been very well hidden—or simply, it is so regular and normal, that it has become very common and no one is surprised.

In the golden years of the construction of the inter-oceanic railroad in 1855 and the Panama Canal in 1914, prostitution was exercised with the consent and total impunity of the authorities. Corruption flowed over to judges, police and the local mafia since they received money from this illicit act. The military presence of the United States Southern Command in Panama, which started in 1963 and continues today, ensured that all U.S. military levels have “entertainment” in the military bases, bars, brothels and prostitution houses. Furthermore, with Panama being such a strategic global connection point for immigration, arms trafficking, mafia, drugs and money laundering, it is no wonder it is likewise a strategic point for human trafficking.  Read More »

July 29, 2014

By Sister Jeanne C.

A self-portrait by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim. She escaped and now lives in a Catholic shelter for rescued girls. She dreams of becoming a social worker. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

A self-portrait by a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim who now dreams of becoming a social worker. Photo Credit: Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department.

I first became aware of the horror of human trafficking while working with a not-for-profit women’s group in Kansas City, Missouri. The director of the group had been a victim of domestic human trafficking, and many of the women we served were victims as well. Listening to the horrors of their experience moved me to devote my ministry to helping the victims, advocating on their behalf and educating the public about this atrocity.   Read More »

July 22, 2014

By Peter F. Meggison, professor of business and computing at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts

This photo of Mother Alexis Donnelly is the only known photo of this sister/composer.

This photo of Mother Alexis Donnelly is the only known photo of this sister/composer. Photo courtesy of Mercy Heritage Center.

One of the major contributors to American Catholic music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Sister Mary Alexis Donnelly. Born Julia Donnelly in England in 1857, she came to the United States as a girl and entered the Sisters of Mercy in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1877. Her early assignments included teaching music in Providence diocesan schools.

Sister Alexis was recognized by her superiors as a gifted musician. At the age of 34, she compiled 121 hymns—mostly her own compositions. These works were published as Holy Face Hymnal by J. Fischer & Bro. of New York, a leading publisher of church music. In 1899, Sister Alexis compiled a second hymnal of 58 compositions, most of them her own works, under the title Our Lady of Mercy HymnalRead More »

July 16, 2014

By Catherine Walsh, Northeast Communications Specialist

These photos, collected with the help of Sister Hope W. and her family, celebrate many milestones and memories in the life of a Sister of Mercy.

1-Wedding
Our story of Sister Hope W., who is now 103 years old, begins with the wedding of her parents, William and Mary, on October 9, 1907, in Providence, Rhode Island. Hope was the second of their eight children.

2-Communion
Hope (right) with siblings Ruth and Leo watch a First Holy Communion in their parish in Edgewood, Rhode Island, in 1919. By the time she was in the sixth grade, Hope knew she wanted to be a Sister of Mercy.   Read More »

July 16, 2014

Por Catherine Walsh, Especialista de Comunicaciones del Nordeste

Estas fotos recogidas con la ayuda de la Hermana Hope W. y su familia celebran muchos hitos y recuerdos en la vida de una Hermana de la Misericordia.

1-Wedding
La historia de la Hermana Hope W., de 103 años, empieza con la boda de sus padres, William y Mary, el 9 de octubre de 1907, en Providence, Rhode Island. Hope fue la segunda de sus ocho hijos e hijas.

2-Communion
Hope (derecha) con su hermana Ruth y su hermano Leo, observan una ceremonia de Primera Comunión en su parroquia en Edgewood, Rhode Island en 1919. Cuando estaba en el sexto grado, Hope sabía que quería ser una Hermana de la Misericordia.   Read More »

July 15, 2014

By Abby Pivovar, NetCommunity and Special Project Coordinator, West Midwest Community

Sister Claudia Robinson

Long after the tornado struck in 1988, people still needed help—and Sister Claudia was there to assist through Inter-Faith Response.

Initially formed by various churches, Inter-Faith Response was originally intended to meet the needs of those who lost homes when a tornado tore through Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1988.  Although the organization was created in reaction to the natural disaster, Sister Claudia explains that people just kept coming after the tornado. Inter-Faith Response remains open to this day, providing a helping hand when other agencies cannot.

Read More »

July 15, 2014

By Sister Kathleen E.

A photo of Norma from the memorial service. Norma has been missing for over four years.

A photo of Norma from the memorial service. Norma has been missing for over four years.

Disappearance—it’s one of the saddest and cruelest crimes.

Norma is a wife, the mother of three girls and the blood sister of Sister Sandra H. On June 1, 2010, she was nursing her 2-month old daughter, Gemma, when men dressed in fatigues came to the house, wrenched Gemma from her arms, and said they were taking Norma to the police station. Her two older girls were present when this happened. Norma has not been heard from since, nor have there any attempts to contact the family or ask for money. Read More »

July 8, 2014

By Sister Rosann F.

Sister Rosann (left) works meets with her students Luz and Eugenia at The Lantern Center.

Sister Rosann (left) works meets with her students Luz and Eugenia at The Lantern Center.

The seeds for my life dream were planted when I was 10 years old. Father Casey, a pastor in Merced, California, invited me to accompany him as he visited some of his parishioners. He introduced me to a migrant family who were moving with the summer crops in California’s Central Valley. At that time, the family was living in a shed also used to store farm equipment. When we arrived, they graciously invited us into their temporary shelter. I learned that their children, who were about my age, also worked in the fields for hours every day. I never forgot my time with them. My eyes and heart were opened quite a bit.   Read More »

July 3, 2014

By Sister Karen D., member of Mercy’s anti-racism team

cc license (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo shared by John Dalton

cc license (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo shared by John Dalton

Makeshift tents are popping up at intersections offering a full range of fireworks. Red, white and blue-frosted cupcakes grace supermarket shelves. The sound of firecrackers can be heard echoing in the distance. For Americans these are all unambiguous signs that the Fourth of July, the annual celebration of freedom commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is just around the corner.

Like many, I have taken pride in those noble words of the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

However, my experiences as a member of the Sisters of Mercy’s Anti-Racism Team has made me aware of the structural racism that is embedded in the very foundations of our country, prompting me to look at the Declaration with new eyes.   Read More »

July 2, 2014

By Sister Natalie R.

Sister Natalie, chaplain at the State Correctional Institution for Women in Cambridge Springs, Pa., leads a Jan. 12 spirituality group of nearly 40 inmates.(CNS photo/Bob Roller) (Jan. 19, 2007)

Sister Natalie leads a spirituality group of nearly 40 inmates at the State Correctional Institution for Women in Cambridge Springs, Pa.  (CNS photo/Bob Roller) (Jan. 19, 2007)

“I sought my soul,
But my soul I could not see.
I sought my God.
But my God eluded me.
I sought my sister
And I found all three.”
—Author unknown

Holy ground—what is that?

I found it the day I walked into the Women’s State Prison in Pennsylvania—a world of many different cultures, but with a shared culture as well: wounded women searching for peace and forgiveness. Out of their wounds surfaced love and kindness.

“Boy, sister, are you naïve,” some said to me. Sure, some women were hypocrites, playing the system to get what they could from me, but so many were spiritually going deeper to find their Maker, searching for answers and many times finding none. So I humbly accompanied them on their journey.  Read More »