How Do You Define Mercy?

May 31, 2021

By Savannah Blanchard, a 2021 graduate of Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, Massachusetts

By definition, mercy is “the kind and forgiving treatment of someone”; however, mercy is so much more than just a forgiving act. As I was starting to think of ways to write this blog, I decided to reach out to a few people for their thoughts on the subject. Being a senior at a Mercy high school made me interested in hearing what people say when asked, “What does mercy mean to you?”

I decided to ask two Bishop Feehan students—a senior and a sophomore—and a teacher. The senior said, “Mercy is about doing service and doing things for others, and the sophomore said, “Mercy to me means the ability to show love and respect to everyone around you and being able to love and forgive those who have wronged you. Essentially, just having the strength to show a smile or a face of kindness and be able to put the wrongs in relationships with people aside and turn it to forgiveness rather than hatred.” My teacher said, “ I think that for me, mercy is another way of saying I love you, but with actions instead of words. With mercy, showing our care and concern for other people, making THEM the focus of the love, instead of us.”

Everyone has their own different version of what mercy means. To me, mercy means being unapologetically helpful, kind, giving and faithful, all at the same time. There are a variety of ways to show mercy, such as volunteering at a shelter or food bank, giving a person a compliment or, maybe, by sitting with a person preparing to pass away and holding their hand and letting them know it is okay to reach for an angel’s hand.

Each day, I try to live out the Catholic values of mercy my parents have instilled in me. I plan on taking mercy values with me into my college life, my career and my future family. Growing up in a Catholic household, I was taught how important it is to volunteer and serve others to better the community. As a result, I have decided to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses care for families and patients at the best and worst moments in their lives. I want to show love, kindness and compassion when people are hurting the most. In college, I also plan to continue to volunteer in my new community of Knoxville, Tennessee, whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen with my friends or helping to raise money for my sorority’s charity. I recently started volunteering with the Special Olympics of Massachusetts by helping to coach Heller’s Angels, a swim team. The experience is incredibly rewarding, and I embrace the act of serving and helping these children to become active and see them burst out of their shells. I want to continue to bring the Mercy charism with me wherever I go.

Not only have my parents and family helped me to grow in mercy, but my school community has, too. As freshmen at Bishop Feehan, each student is required to learn the school’s core values: spirituality, mercy, stewardship, integrity, excellence and respect. We students at Bishop Feehan will carry these values with us throughout our young adult and adult lives. By the time graduation arrives, Feehan students are able to go into the world and live out the values our school has taught us. All of the teachers and faculty do an outstanding job of preparing us for the next stage.

Because of the mercy values Bishop Feehan has instilled in me, I do not look at volunteering as a requirement or a chore, but rather as an experience I welcome with open arms. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have spent my last four years learning how to be charitable, respectful and selfless.

Share This Story

Comments (23)

Add A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Katie Mindling, RSM

    My you be blessed as you respond to all that you have witnessed and learned about Mercy. Love how you have found it to be dynamic: “an experience I welcome with open arms”.

  2. Sister Maureen Mulcrone, RSM

    Thank you, Savannah, for your inspiring reflection on Mercy. Your choice to become a nurse will undoubtedly offer you a lifetime of opportunities to grow in and share Mercy with others. You may want to read about the work of the Sisters of Mercy who collaborated with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean war. Together they laid the groundwork for the profession of nursing. Congratulations on your graduation. I will pray for you as you begin your study of nursing.

  3. Fran Repka

    Savannah, thank you for your beautiful reflection on Mercy.
    God bless you, your family, your friends, your Bishop Feehan school.

  4. Sr. Mary Fellin

    Thanks for sharing. As a member of the Sisters of Mercy, you the young, give me hope for the future. Your faculty and staff are to be complimented for instilling these values into your lives. Not forgetting your parents, the first teachers.

  5. Natalie Rossi

    I am grateful that you and the other students at Bishop Feehan school have been already reaching out to those in need. There is great hope for our world.
    Thank you for being you.

  6. Sarah Marie Sherman


    I almost cried when I read your blog. What a magnificent description of what mercy can mean! I am affirmed and greatly challenged by your words to continue to be “mercy”. Blessings as you graduate and take MERCY with you.

  7. Sister Perpetua lester

    Great news to read,thanks. May your spirit always be renewed with your own prayer reflecting on God ’s great love for you.
    God delights in you!

  8. Sr. Richard Mary Burke

    Savannah Dear,
    Your reflection on MERCY is both inspiring and challenging! May this spirit of God’s goodness always permeate your life in word and deed.
    Blessings to you!

  9. Mary Pendergast, RSM

    Thank you, Savannah! It is a lifelong quest to be Mercy, but how wonderful the path!

  10. Jeanne Barry, RSM

    Thank you, Savannah, for your thoughtful reflection on Mercy. You give us hope for the future as you bring Mercy to our world. God bless you and other ‘21 graduates!

  11. Mark Fitzpatrick

    Blessings Savannah, Congratulations on your graduation! Truly I wish you much success as you pursue your future hopes in becoming a nurse.
    Savannah, there was a popular movie, a few years ago now, entitled “Love Story.” In it was the famous line, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” I’m sure the writer meant that line in a most ‘romantic’ way. Yet, I define mercy as Love is saying, humbly and meaningfully, that you are sorry. Of course, the other important aspect of mercy is that we all need to forgive as Jesus forgave. God Bless, Mark

  12. Sr Pat Oliver

    Bravo to you, Savannah. You make me proud today I taught at Feehan as a Sister of Mercy. My prayer is that you will continue to hold the ideals of Mercy in your life. Best wishes!

  13. Mary C. Sullivan

    What a beautiful story, Savannah. You go out into the world as a Mercy leader, and what a blessings that will be for all whom you meet.

  14. Martha Larsen

    Rich in ideas. You will be gift to those you walk with . Thank you.

  15. Sister Brian Latour

    Your writing is flawless. More importantly, the message was thoughtful and reflective. It made me happy that you have “gotten” what you’ve been taught. Thank you!

  16. Sister Eileen O'Connor

    Thank you so much, Savannah, for your inspiring and very thought-provoking words. We Sisters of Mercy spend our lives trying to be Mercy wherever and whenever we can. It is a lifelong journey!! Blessings to you!

  17. Denise Bennett, Associate of the Sisters of Mercy

    Savannah, your insight into the meaning of mercy certainly was not learned from books. Your parents are to be congratulated for first teaching you empathy and giving of your time and talent to help the less fortunate. Your teachers continue to model that charism of Catherine McAuley that has been instilled in you. Thank you for such a heartfelt writing piece about putting mercy into action. As a graduate of Bishop Feehan High School 52 years ago, I am grateful for the spirit of mercy in my life. Those lessons helped me during my teaching career. God bless you as you prepare to study nursing. It is such a selfless ministry. I think after the last year, we appreciate the health care workers even more. I will keep you in my prayers.

  18. Linda Tyler

    A beautiful encapsulation of mercy, Savannah, a value that you emulated so well during your time here at Feehan! As a nurse, you will offer mercy every day to many in need of its gift and grace. God bless you, hon!

  19. Deacon Joe McGinley

    Ah, Savannah, a beautifully written reflection that gets to the heart of what mercy is all about…and your desired profession (calling) will offer so many grace-filled opportunities to continue to put into practice that with which you are already familiar. God Bless!

  20. Glenn Loiselle

    Savannah, you have always represented your self and the mission of Bishop Feehan from your very first days at Feehan. We are proud, we are blessed to have been your teachers, your mentors your friends. Peace

  21. Elizabeth Doyle, RSM

    Dear Savannah,

    I have just read your beautiful reflection on Mercy. Your description of Mercy Life has touched me deeply. I taught at Bishop Feehan for ten years and have lived Mercy for sixty years. You have certainly grasped the values of Mercy. Congratulations and continue to let your light shine.

  22. Elizabeth Doyle, RSM

    Dear Savannah,

    I have just read your beautiful reflection on Mercy. Your description of Mercy Life has touched me deeply. I taught at Bishop Feehan for ten years and have lived Mercy for sixty years. You have certainly grasped the values of Mercy. Congratulations and continue to let your light shine.

  23. Sister Martha Mulligan, RSM

    Thank you, Savannah, for your words of wisdom and inspiration as you leave Bishop Feehan. What you have shared comes from a true “heart of Mercy.” May you touch all on your new path to University, and Nursing, and Life with that same spirit and gift. Blessings and Congratulations!