Search Results for: Associates

My Response to the Global Cry for Justice

January 30, 2018

By Sharon Durham, Mercy Associate

Since childhood, I have used my voice to challenge injustice. This month of January 2018 found me actively involved and present-along with many women, men and children-on behalf of the vision of a more just world.

Mercy Associate Sharon Durham

Sharon Durham at the Women’s March in Philadelphia.

Unity Week

On the official day of recognition of the life and mission of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., a community coalition of which I am a member in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, held its 14th Annual Unity Week Event. The event invites county residents to visit churches, synagogues, mosques and Buddhist and Hindu temples throughout the county in order to learn about the faith traditions of our neighbors. During these gatherings, stories of discrimination, fear of deportation policies, and the challenges of our neighbors who are drug-addicted, hungry and/or experiencing sexual abuse had a safe place to be heard, along with songs, prayers and hope for a better tomorrow. Children could be found at every event, singing, praying and “breaking bread” with each other and with their adult neighbors.

Women’s March

On January 20, with my peanut butter sandwich in hand, I joined legions of women headed to downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend my second Women’s March. (Washington, D.C. in January 2017 was my first.) I found this year’s event to be somewhat more inclusive of women of color, women with disabilities, women who are LGBTQIA and women who identify as conservative. Organizers of the march acknowledged the internalized white superiority so present in last year’s event and expressed a commitment to reach beyond it. I was encouraged by their awakening, as I believe that all voices are critical to the success of our efforts. I hope we can find a way to bridge this void in the coming months and years.   Read More »

This Advent, Deliver Us from Evil

December 19, 2017

By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate

Manger

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling cloths and lay him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash.

I don’t wish to be the Donny Downer on your holiday cheer, but like a caroler who is singing a bit flat or eggnog that has sat out to long, I want to remind you that it is Advent and we need to attend to something that is fundamental in this time of preparation: evil.

When you get down to it, the Works of Mercy and critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy—the Earth, justice for immigrants, equality for women, anti-racism and nonviolence—are ways to confront, dismantle and, through Christian hope, eliminate evil.

A Child Born in a Stable, a King Blinded by Power

No matter how much we romanticize or domesticate Christ and his birth in a manger through our cute tabletop nativity scenes, remember that a very pregnant woman had to give birth amongst animals and place her child in the feeding trough of cattle because there was, supposedly, no room for her at the inn. I believe that it was evil 2,000 years ago—and evil still today—to have a child born under such circumstances, when all we need do is open our hearts and homes to those in need. There is space for others if only we took the effort to make space for others.

In just a few verses of the Gospels of Matthew or Luke, we can see the need for several of Mercy’s critical concerns: attending to the economically poor, especially women and children; supporting immigrants; and practicing nonviolence. We could also look to the Works of Mercy: sheltering the homeless and welcoming the stranger. These actions could confront the evils of closed, hardened and inhospitable hearts that breed pride, selfishness and myriad sins.

Perhaps evil is more obvious to us in King Herod, who ordered the Massacre of the Infants (Matthew 2:16-18) when the Magi didn’t return to him after paying homage to the newly born Prince of Peace. Because of Herod’s orders, an angel instructed Joseph to flee into Egypt in order to protect his family.   Read More »

Bringing Up Baby—With Mercy

October 16, 2017

By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate

George DeSales and Rachel Day

George DeSales and Rachel Day

In August, my wife Regina (a Mercy Volunteer Corps alum) and I, both Mercy Associates, welcomed our second child into this world: George DeSales Piper. George and his big sister, Rachel Day, who was born on Mercy Day in 2014, present all the normal challenges one faces when becoming a parent, but because Regina and I are Mercy Associates there is an added challenge of living up to our covenant in light of raising our children.

How is that? I’m glad you asked.

Works of Mercy

You see, engaging in the Works of Mercy (like engaging in anything pre-children) becomes a bit more taxing with children as they seem to want our time and attention—and love—incessantly (please note my dry sense of humor). I will say, as a parent I get plenty of opportunities to engage in the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy—such as bearing patiently the troublesome.

Gospel Values

Though Christ said that his yolk was easy and his burden light, he did not say instilling Gospel values or upholding Mercy were not without difficulty or exhaustion—particularly as a parent. There are days I feel a lot like Jesus, like when I turn my back for a mere moment on my three-year-old and a somewhat-clean house turns into a level-three hazmat situation. All I want to do is shout, “Get behind me, Satan!” It worked on Saint Peter.   Read More »

Why I Went to Charlottesville

August 23, 2017

By Kathleen Kelleher, Mercy Associate

Memorial for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Memorial for Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo by Bob Mical on Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

God works in mysterious ways.

At an Advent retreat last December I listened to an older woman struggle to make sense of the U.S. presidential election. She said, “I don’t want to be a good person who does nothing.” I nodded in agreement, wondering what I would do with my own disbelief and foreboding. Fast-forward to Lent; I was invited to offer a reflection at a Good Friday service on the 11th station of the cross, Jesus is crucified. I began by singing the refrain from the African-American slave spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I then reflected the following:

“I wonder where I would have been? Would I have stayed to witness Jesus’ last moments of being one of us? Could I have functioned through the shock and trauma to comfort anyone else, or would fear and survival have ruled me? I am grateful that I have not been tested; or, are we all called to witness the crucifixions of today? Can I still tremble or am I numb to new attrocities? Some ask, ‘How can a loving and merciful God allow it all?’ But I do not blame God, then or now. I ask myself, how am I crucifying Jesus today? When I reject another and turn away, when I judge and don’t make room in my heart or home, when I’m too tired to make an effort? When will my love and courage rise, when and where will I stand for something?”

Fast-forward again to the end of July. A colleague forwarded me an email from a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia; the city’s faith community was calling for a 1,000 clergy, Catholics in particular, to come stand against a planned alt-right/white supremacist rally. At first I thought the best use of my time would be to pass the request along to faith and social justice networks I knew in Washington, D.C.

However, as the days moved closer to the rally, the information coming out of Charlottesville was sobering if not frightening; violence was not only threatened, but promised. I began to back off organizing others to go and discerned that I needed to go. My courage was bolstered by a friend in faith who is no stranger to putting right faith into right action. We would journey together and, in word and deed, join with the Body of Christ, once again being crucified by the coalescing of hearts and minds that have turned away from God. As the Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So we two Catholic women went to be a prayerful presence, witness and opposition to free speech that is hateful, false, and inciting. We carried signs that read, “The Body of Christ is present” and “Who is my sister, my brother?”

We went because we were asked, because we could, and because it was important to say, “This is not who we are.” We went for those who could not go, for those told to stay home or go back home for their own safety. For those who fought this fight in the 1860s, 1940s, 1960s and for those who never stopped fighting because racism and anti-Semitism never stopped. For all people who are hated for who they are, for where they come from, for whom they love and for how they worship. For the Jewish woman who hadn’t gone home since July, when her Charlottesville address was chanted outside her place of work. Because nooses are being left in public places; because black men, innocent or not, are being shot dead in American streets. For my friend Harry from South Chicago, whose mother was on the bridge at Selma; for the memory of my friend Dave who labored on a chain-gang for registering blacks to vote. For friends and coworkers who could still be lynched, shot, fired, not hired, or denied housing because they do not look like me. For the University of Virginia student who screamed in panic, “Where are you America?” while tiki-torch bearing white supremacists marched through his campus. For Heather Heyer, whose last public posting read, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

We went because it was the right stand to take at this time of national confusion, rage, false narratives and empty promises. We were told that it was not smart to go, but we did not go because it was smart. Is this a new moment in our American experiment? Can we be outraged and pay attention long enough to finally debride the wounds of racism and anti-Semitism, which only survive as long as they are taught and learned? America seems broken at this moment in time, and it is up to all who call her home to stand up and heal her.

“Truly God is the God of All” — Mercy Associate Reflects on Indigenous Roots

August 9, 2017

By Virginia Fifield, Mercy Associate

The United Nations recognizes August 9 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This year is also the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Virginia Fifield, Mercy Associate

August 9 is a day that has been set aside to honor and recognize Indigenous people. It may be a day like any other to most, but to me, as a member of the Indigenous community, it is a different story.

Most of the lives of Indigenous people are lived in the soul-crushing reality of being an “outsider” on their own ancestral lands. We sat through history lessons that told us that in the grand scheme of things we are the losers. Even though we might be “cradle Catholics,” we never seemed to be able to measure up. But I think the most humiliating thing we had to bear was being handed pence boxes to collect money for all the pagan babies. I know that the times were different, and although we’d like to think things have changed, too often they are still the same. Our children and grandchildren still are fighting the internal battle of who they know they are and what society is telling them they are. Internalized racism has made us constantly question whether we are American enough and whether we are Catholic enough—and if we are, then are we Native enough?

Given this experience, can you imagine what was going through my mind when I was invited to discern for Mercy Association? Because of my life’s experiences I was a little bit more than reluctant. When you get burned enough times you tend to be very wary. But after my initial conversation with two wonderful women of Mercy, Jean Galafaro and Sister Barbara Stinard, I did agree to listen and learn about Catherine McAuley and Mercy Association before I made any decision.

For the first time in my Church experience I found that I was welcomed with not only open hearts but also with open minds. The people in the Circle of Mercy welcomed what was perhaps to them a different way of seeing God. They were more than willing to listen to the Indigenous concept of the Cosmic Creation. They listened to how Indigenous people see their interconnectedness with that creation as a way of living out our divine purpose within God’s plan. They tried to understand how Indigenous people believe in the divine in all people. I find that when people in Mercy have questions, for the most part they are just that—questions, not judgments. I also find that Mercy honors the separateness of Indigenous symbols and traditions that are sacred and does not try to somehow appropriate or misuse them.   Read More »

Here Comes the Church: All Aboard

July 20, 2017

By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate

Mark snapped this photo of the U.S. southwest on his way to Albuquerque.

Make no mistake, I’m no James Joyce (though I have been known to write my fair share of run-on sentences). If I can, however, modify a line from Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, the phrase “here comes the Church, here comes everybody” has been on my mind recently.

In June, I travelled from Chicago, Illinois, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to co-facilitate a retreat on the Mercy Critical Concerns. You probably assume that a trip from Chicago to the desert southwest would entail a flight. But, alas, I took Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, a 25-hour train ride, leaving Chicago mid-afternoon on Thursday and arriving in the late afternoon on Friday. Why? Well, with care of Earth in mind, I thought I would intentionally reduce my carbon footprint—not to mention Amtrak was quite substantially cheaper than any flight I could find.

Beyond the views and the leg room, what I like about long-range train travel is that it affords me the time to create my own mini-retreat. On a train I can actually read good chunks of a book; I can view first hand those purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain; I can move about freely, not worrying about that “fasten seatbelt” sign. While I do fly quite regularly, and am grateful for the free Wi-fi on most flights, the lack of internet access on the train can actually be a blessing to unplug.    Read More »

The Roller Coaster of Mercy

June 21, 2017

By Carol Conway, Mercy Associate

Recently Carol Conway, a Mercy Associate, shared the following reflection at a jubilee celebration in Chicago, Illinois. A jubilee marks a sister’s anniversary within a religious congregation. We congratulate all Sisters of Mercy celebrating jubilees this year and thank them for their many years of joy and service!

People riding a roller coasterWhen I think about the experiences of our jubilarians, the image of a roller coaster comes to mind. For 25, 50, 60, 70, 75 and even 80 years, they have strapped themselves in a coaster car labeled Mercy and have experienced both the highs and lows of following the path of Jesus Christ and Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy.

I can only imagine the ups and downs of those of you who entered religious life at age 18 so many years ago. Perhaps those who wanted to be nurses had to become teachers, and those who never saw themselves as leaders were put in that position as principals, hospital administrators and leaders within the congregation. Perhaps home bodies were sent to Iowa or Wisconsin, or maybe Honduras or Peru. Maybe you got on the roller coaster with another order but were called to Mercy, or maybe you started as a teacher but became superintendent of schools; maybe you began in grade schools but later worked in universities and hospitals, or maybe you started in hospitals and ended up in schools. Maybe you followed your blood sisters, or maybe they followed you because the ride looked so appealing. And maybe, after so many decades, you’re still working as a spiritual director, healthcare liaison, in leadership, as the backbone of an inner-city school, or as a champion for people who are homeless or undocumented.   Read More »

Breaking Poverty’s Cycle by Getting Parents to Talk—a Lot—to Their Kids

June 6, 2017

By The Rev. Dr. Michele L. Matott, Mercy Associate

The Sisters of Mercy work passionately to examine the root causes of poverty and promote systemic change in the communities in which we minister. One shining example is a collaboration of one of our sponsored organizations, McAuley Ministries in Providence, Rhode Island, with Providence Talks.

Children from McAuley Village practice new words with the help of visual aids as part of the village’s new partnership with Providence Talks.

Children from McAuley Village practice new words with the help of visual aids as part of the village’s new partnership with Providence Talks.

At McAuley Ministries we know that the best path to breaking the cycle of poverty is a good education. We also know that by the time a child growing up in a low-income home reaches age 4, he or she will have heard 30 million fewer words than a child from a middle-class or more affluent family. This raises the question: How can we narrow this gap to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten?

Young minds have an incredible thirst for knowledge, and it’s crucial that we do everything we can to support their needs, particularly those who may be at a disadvantage from a younger age.

Starting in February, McAuley Village, our two-year family-building transitional housing program for single mothers and their children who are homeless, collaborated with Providence Talks to help improve mother-child bonding and reading skills. Our work together involved two six-week courses.   Read More »

Spiritual Works of Mercy in the Age of Facebook

April 26, 2017

By Mark Piper, Mercy Associate and director of lay association for the West Midwest Community

One day Christ came riding into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!” from adulating crowds. A few days later those joyful shouts became screams of “Crucify him!” from the same crowd, who had traded their adulation for anger, animosity and hatred. How fickle people can be.

We have just celebrated Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Christ’s resurrection on Easter a little more than a week ago, so we know well the story and the crowd’s change of heart. But we also know well that, like Jerusalem around the time of Christ, our Facebook feed—and practically any social media platform and/or comment section on any online article—can quickly turn from “likes” to mean-spirited, ad hominem attacks and petulant drivel. Have you seen it? It’s like the great irony of leaving Mass on Sunday morning only to see road rage in the church’s parking lot a mere four minutes after the final blessing. So, instead of repeating or even partaking in the vile, mean, rude and/or hypocritical posts we see, how about we expand the spiritual works of mercy in the age of Facebook? Read More »

Their Own ‘Band’: Why Eight Coworkers Became Mercy Associates

February 24, 2017

By Catherine Walsh, Northeast Community Communications Specialist

It’s an improbable story. Eight women work together for years at a nursing and rehabilitation center owned by the Sisters of Mercy. During the center’s transition to new ownership, the women are moved to reconsider their own relationship with the nuns—and their own call from God.

For regardless of their backgrounds, they realize that their very identities—both personally and professionally—have become one with Mercy, as exemplified by the sisters they have come to know so well at Mount St. Rita Health Centre in Cumberland, Rhode Island, now part of Covenant Health. So Evelyn “Evie” Bain, Linda Broccoli, Denise DuFresne, Cheryl Ethier, Mirlande Goudiaby, Denise Lafond, Lynn Laverty and Pam Kaitin decide to answer the call to Mercy in a new way, as Mercy Associates.

(Blog continues below)

Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates gather for a photo at Mount St. Rita. Seated, from left, are Sisters Francelle Dame, Andre Marie Guay, Mary Faith Harding (holding a dog named Roje who belongs to two other sisters), Georgette Chasse and Edna Lynch. Standing from left are Sister Mary Costello; Associates Denise Lafond, Cheryl Ethier, Denise Dufresne, Pam Kaitin, Mirlande Goudiaby, Evie Bain and Lynn Laverty; Sisters Antonia Tognetti and Rose Angela McClellan; Mercy Associate Linda Broccoli and Sister Kathleen Turley.

Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates gather for a photo at Mount St. Rita.

On a sunny Sunday last fall, the Mount St. Rita women joined two other women—Mercy Associate Hope Darigan and Mercy Associate Dorothy “Dottie” Piantadosi—in Providence, Rhode Island, in making a covenant with the Sisters of Mercy, in which they pledged to carry forth the Mercy mission in the context of their own lives.

“By making this covenant, we entered into a really different relationship with the sisters than the one we had with them before,” says Mercy Associate Denise Lafond, who serves as director of mission, spiritual care and volunteers at the Mount (as the health center is fondly called) and has been an employee there for 25 years.

“We committed ourselves to walking with the sisters and to being Mercy ourselves, and that’s very powerful.”

Moved by a ‘Culture of Mercy’ at Work

Mercy Association, the process by which laywomen and men formally affiliate themselves with the Sisters of Mercy, first began in the early 1980s. Since then more and more people who work with the sisters in education, health care, housing, social services and diverse other ministries have become Mercy Associates, pledging to care for those who are poor, sick and uneducated, and to live out as best they can the sisters’ special vow of service. It’s unusual, however, to have so many employees at one Mercy-related organization take this step at the same time.   Read More »