Category Archives: Liz Dossa

Our Lady of Sorrows Understands our Present Moment

September 13, 2020

By Liz Dossa

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows occurs on Tuesday September 15th. This reflection focuses on an icon that was created for this feast. Stay tuned for a spiritual reflection that will publish later this week on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

An icon of Our Lady of Sorrow
The icon created by Sister Mary Hope Sanchez is an appropriate image for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15. It is a variant or a “translation” of an image created by William Hart McNichols in his book Mary, Mother of All Nations.

The pensive face of the Our Lady of Sorrows icon painted by Sister Mary Hope Sanchez is remarkable, especially for her eyes. Downcast and heavy lidded, the eyes contain shadows of Mary’s grief and the clarity of her acceptance. A traditional icon of Our Lady of Sorrows often shows the sorrows of her life as swords in Our Lady’s body, but this image carries the pain in her face and gestures more subtly.

Sister Hope was drawn to painting the image simply because, as she said, “She is so beautiful.” Her slim-fingered hands gesture, one hand indicating “behold” the Christ, the other bent, resting under her chin, showing her acceptance of sorrow. Her grief is clear, her gaze extending to those who look upon her an invitation to share at a time when so many in our world are experiencing sorrow and pain.

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Nuestra Señora de los Dolores entiende nuestro tiempo presente

September 13, 2020

Por Liz Dossa

El icono creado por Hermana Mary Hope Sanchez es una imagen apropiada para la Festividad de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores el 15 de septiembre. Es una variante o una «representación» de una imagen creada por William Hart McNichols en su libro Mary, Mother of All Nations (María, Madre de todas las naciones).

La imagen meditabunda de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores pintada por la Hermana Mary Hope Sanchez es admirable, en especial por sus ojos. Su mirada baja, abatida y de párpados pesados, contiene las sombras de la pena de María y la claridad de su aceptación. La imagen tradicional de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores muestra a menudo las penas de su vida como espadas clavadas en su cuerpo, pero esta representación es distinta, lleva el dolor en su rostro y se expresa en sutiles gestos.

Hermana Hope se sintió atraída a pintar la imagen simplemente porque, como ella dijo, «es tan hermosa». Sus delgadas manos hacen un gesto, una indica «he aquí» el Cristo. La otra, se dobla descansando bajo su barbilla, mostrando su aceptación del dolor. Su sufrimiento es claro y su mirada se extiende a quienes la observan como una invitación a compartir en momentos en los que tantas personas en nuestro mundo están viviendo tristeza y dolor.

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Sister Elaine Pacheco Advocates for Women and Earth

September 1, 2020

The Season of Creation begins today. Sign up for the Mercy Earth Challenge to take action for Earth with us!

By Liz Dossa

Sister Elaine Pacheco feels a strong bond with Earth. She is certain that listening to its language is as essential as listening to our own bodies. What needs to be healed in us? What messages is Earth sending us through melting ice, Amazon fires and polluted seas?

Sister Elaine’s love of nature blossomed naturally during childhood. She grew up in Colorado in view of the Wet Mountains and visiting her grandparents in New Mexico in the summer.

“There were constant opportunities to be outside in the family gardens, picnics in the park, camping and hiking in the mountains,” she remembers.

Sister Elaine is devoted to healing trauma that has affected women and Earth. A licensed therapist, social worker and spiritual director, she discovered a new perspective on healing in the 1980s. She attended a workshop by somatic therapist Peter Levine and became convinced that to heal trauma, therapy needs to include the body. “An hour of body work can be worth 90 hours of talk therapy,” she says.

Her concern for Earth was intertwined with the need to heal the body.

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Hermana Elaine Pacheco aboga por las mujeres y Tierra

September 1, 2020

Reto: Tierra y Misericordia ¡Comprométete a un año de cambio!

Por Liz Dossa

Hermana Elaine Pacheco tiene un fuerte vínculo con la Tierra. Está convencida de que escuchar su expresión es tan esencial como escuchar a nuestro propio cuerpo. ¿Qué necesitamos sanar en nosotras? ¿Qué mensajes nos envía la Tierra a través de los deshielos, incendios forestales en la Amazonía y océanos contaminados?

El amor por la naturaleza de Hermana Elaine nació de modo natural durante la infancia. Creció en Colorado a la vista de la Sierra Mojada y las visitas a sus abuelos en Nuevo México en el verano.

«Gozó de constantes oportunidades de estar al aire libre en los jardines familiares, comidas campestre en el parque, campamentos y caminatas en las montañas», recuerda.

Hermana Elaine se dedica al tratamiento de los traumas que han afectado a las mujeres y a la Tierra. Como terapeuta licenciada, trabajadora social y directora espiritual, descubrió una perspectiva nueva para la sanación durante la década de 1980. Asistió a un taller del terapeuta somático Peter Levine y se convenció de que, para sanar el trauma, la terapia debe incluir el cuerpo. «Una hora de trabajo corporal puede valer 90 horas de psicoterapia», expresa ella.

Su preocupación por la Tierra estuvo entrelazada con la necesidad de sanar el cuerpo.

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Celebrando la música y a la Hermana Suzanne

December 13, 2018

Por Liz Dossa

El 28 de julio se celebró a la Hermana Suzanne Toolan y a su música con un concierto sacro en la capilla de la Misericordia en Burlingame, California. Compositora prolífica, la Hermana Suzanne, hoy con 90 años, compuso “I am the Bread of Life” («Yo soy el Pan de Vida») en 1966, uno de los primeros himnos en inglés para la liturgia católica y que hoy se canta en todo el mundo.

Hermana Suzanne Toolan

Ella se mantiene en leal e intenso contacto con la gente, y las/os cantantes del coro para el concierto provinieron de los servicios que realizó Suzanne a lo largo de su vida. Hermanas, asociadas/os, ex-hermanas, miembros del coro dominical actual y estudiantes de las dos escuelas secundarias de la Misericordia se reunieron para rendir tributo a Suzanne cantando una retrospectiva de sus composiciones. Sus 18 obras interpretadas esa noche iban desde los ritmos insistentes de “Let Us Walk in Justice” («Caminemos en la Justicia») a la reflexión de “Living Water” («Agua Viva»). Read More »

Celebrating Music and Sister Suzanne

December 11, 2018

by Liz Dossa

A Sacred Concert in Burlingame’s Mercy Chapel in Burlingame, California, on July 28 celebrated Sister Suzanne Toolan and her music. A prolific composer, Sister Suzanne, now 90, wrote “I am the Bread of Life” in 1966, one of the first hymns in English for Catholic liturgy and now sung all over the world.

Sister Suzanne Toolan playing piano.

She has an intensely loyal following, and the singers for the concert chorus came from Suzanne’s ministries throughout her long lifetime. Sisters, Associates, former Sisters, current Sunday choir members and alumnae from two Mercy high schools gathered to pay tribute to Suzanne by singing a retrospective of her compositions. Her 18 works performed that night ranged from the insistent rhythms of “Let Us Walk in Justice” to the reflective “Living Water.” Read More »

Mercy and Poetry — Writing as Part of a Balanced Life

April 30, 2018

By Liz Dossa

This is the sixth reflection in our Poetry and Mercy series as part of National Poetry Month
Read the whole series here.

How is there time for writing poetry in a busy Mercy life? For two Sisters of Mercy who are also poets living at Marian Life Care Center in Burlingame, California, writing poetry has been part of their lives for many years.

Sister Maria Juanita—Poetry as Part of Prayer

Sister Maria Juanita van Bommel began writing at a workshop for teachers during the summer of 1969. “They told us to write something and I wrote ‘Tell Me’ about Point Lobos [a coastal area of California],” she said. The windswept coast inspired her.

She begins the poem: “Whispering cypresses tell me what you know of this region bleak and bare.”

Sister Maria Juanita with her book Reflections

Poetry was not her main occupation. Her ministries included many years as a teacher in elementary schools, ministering to people who are homeless through social services and in shelters, tutoring English-language learners and ministering to prisoners in the Santa Clara county jail.

Poetry is a natural part of her prayer now. She recalls an intense period of writing when she was confined to a wheelchair for a few months after a fall. Sitting in one place caused her to notice small things, such as the spider web outside her window. She wrote a poem about it.   Read More »

Misericordia y poesía — La escritura como parte de una vida equilibrada

April 30, 2018

De Liz Dossa
¿Hay tiempo para escribir poesía en una intensa vida de Misericordia? Para dos Hermanas de la Misericordia que también son poetisas y viven en el Centro Marian Life Care en Burlingame, California escribir poesía ha sido parte de sus vidas por muchos años.

Hermana María Juanita — Poesía como parte de la oración

Hermana María Juanita van Bommel comenzó a escribir poesía en un taller para maestras/os durante el verano de 1969. «Nos dijeron que escribiéramos algo y yo escribí ‘Háblame’ sobre Punto Lobos [una zona costera de California]», dijo ella. La costa azotada por el viento la inspiró.

Hermana María Juanita van Bommel

Ella comienza el poema: «Susurrantes cipreses díganme lo que saben de esta región sombría y desnuda».

La poesía no era su ocupación principal. Sus ministerios incluían muchos años como profesora en escuelas primarias, sirviendo a personas sin hogar a través de servicios sociales y en los refugios, tutoría de estudiantes de la lengua inglesa y sirviendo a presos en la cárcel del Condado de Santa Clara.

La poesía es parte natural de su oración ahora. Ella recuerda un intenso periodo de escritura cuando estaba postrada en una silla de ruedas durante unos meses después de una caída. Sentada en un solo lugar la hizo darse cuenta de pequeñas cosas, como la telaraña fuera de su ventana. Ella escribió un poema sobre el tema.   Read More »

Who Will Care for the Caregivers?

October 6, 2017

By Liz Dossa, West Midwest Communications

Sister Kathleen Kearney

When Sister Kathleen Kearney was chief operating officer at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, she was keenly aware of the needs that therapists at the hospital’s McAuley Psychiatric Services were trying to meet. She realized she wanted to step in personally to meet those individual needs. “After 16 years in hospital administration, I wanted to work one on one with people,” Sister Kathleen said. She had a degree in nursing from University of San Francisco and in public health from Cal Berkeley. Her next step was to return to school for a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree in clinical psychology at John F. Kennedy University.

During her years of practice required for training and then licensing as a therapist, she first counseled emotionally disturbed teens. Then she worked for a program that assessed both physical and mental health needs of elderly people in their homes. In the process, she became acutely aware of the great needs of their caregivers. She saw that caregivers labor for years for their spouses or family members, exhausted and often unacknowledged. Many times the stressed caregiver dies before the patient. Read More »

Tutoring with Heart

May 16, 2017

By Liz Dossa

UDM staff Felicia Mitrovich (left) and Emilie Wetherington (right) with Sister Sarah and Bentley (center).

UDM staff Felicia Mitrovich (left) and Emilie Wetherington (right) with Sister Sarah and Bentley (center).

Sister Sarah Foster tutors college students at University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) for a very good reason: she can see herself in them.

“I graduated high school with honors, was placed on academic probation after my first semester at Saginaw Valley State University, and was academically dismissed from the college at the end of my freshman year,” says Sister Sarah. “I was a first-generation college student and know well what it is like to be overwhelmed in the midst of academia without role models to ask questions or to even understand the transition from high school to college.” Read More »