Search Results for: Community – Northeast

Faith and Service: Reflections of a Desert Storm Veteran

November 10, 2017

By Daniel Justynski

Dan Justynski is the director of real estate portfolio for the Sisters of Mercy – Northeast Community as well as a proud alumnus of two Mercy schools.

A headshot of the author of this blog, Dan Justynski

Dan Justynski

Each year as Veterans Day approaches, I reflect on my time in the Navy and the origin of my desire to serve our country. I have known the Sisters of Mercy since I was 10 years old; they were my first educators academically as well as spiritually. I attended the Mercy-staffed St. Margaret School in East Providence, Rhode Island, and Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro, Massachusetts. My moral compass was set through my faith and a decade of Mercy mentoring and education.

I also knew from a young age that I wanted to be a naval officer. I decided to work towards a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship and was accepted into the program at the College of Holy Cross in 1983. My first memory from NROTC was October 23, 1983—the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. I realized that day that I now wore the same uniform as that of many of those 241 servicemen who, in service to our country, had been killed in the attack. My focus at college was to learn as much as possible, earn my degree and be the best officer and leader possible when I was commissioned an ensign in December 1987.

I met my ship, USS Seattle, in Norfolk, Virginia, in September 1988. To me, the ship was huge and very intimidating. During four years of NROTC training, I had spent all of 30 days at sea, and now I was walking onto a Fast Combat Support Ship as the boiler’s officer, leading a division of 50 men. It was a time of great internal stress, anxiety over my worthiness and fear of failure.

Ensuring Safe Travels across Oceans

I had a lot to learn and little time to do it, but I was surrounded by officers who taught me how to run a division and become a surface warfare officer. We deployed soon after. I put my personal life on hold and said goodbye to my fiancé Gayle in Rhode Island, leaving her to graduate from college and plan a wedding without me. As this was an era before email and cell phones, we communicated through long letters during the deployment.   Read More »

Victor Walks Again!

October 27, 2017

By Sister Eva Lallo

Casa Corazón de la Misericordia, a ministry sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, is an orphanage for children and teens living with HIV/AIDS in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

When Victor came to Casa Corazón, his legs were malformed. The doctors said that at birth he had a stroke which affected his legs, possibly due to the fact that he was born with HIV.

As he grew he tried to walk and even run, always on his toes. Eventually it became so difficult that he had to hang on to things in order to walk or even stand without falling. He valiantly tried to keep up with the other kids at Casa Corazón, but eventually he became confined to a wheelchair, where it seemed he would spend the rest of his life.

We finally found a surgeon wiling to perform the special surgery that would straighten Victor’s legs so that he could walk freely and upright. Thanks to an anonymous donor, we were able to pay for the operation.

We are so happy to say that Victor is out of his wheelchair, walking tentatively, his legs straight and feet firmly planted on the floor.

We here at Casa—Sisters of Mercy, staff and the other kids—are Victor’s only family. His mom and dad are gone, and we are not aware of any extended family. But Victor is a fighter! Having lived thus far through the stress of being HIV positive, he is now determined to walk again.

His next challenge is to run and to play football, the favorite sport in Honduras, with the other kids at Casa Corazón. (Here in the United States we call the sport soccer!)

Learn more about Casa Corazón.

When a Loved One Passes

October 24, 2017

By Sister Marjorie Lupien

Sister Marjorie Lupien and Fr John Bucchino

Sister Marjorie (right) with Father John Bucchino at Blessed Sacrament Church in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Six years ago, I became a pastoral minister at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire. Having been a teacher for many years, I was hesitant going into parish ministry. Within the pastoral ministry role was the funeral ministry.

There are numerous funerals at Blessed Sacrament Parish for all ages, but primarily for elderly parishioners who have passed. My ministry is to meet with families for the preparation of the liturgy and to arrange for a remembrance meal after the funeral. Meeting families in the early stage of their grieving is a challenge because everyone grieves differently. There is no one way to grieve. The families take the task of choosing readings and music very seriously, making selections that fit their loved one’s life.

Memories, a Healing Tool

Near the end of our meeting, I take a few minutes and ask if the family would like to share with me memories about their loved one, a story that is not in the obituary. This is a very precious time for them and for me. They start thinking that death is not the opposite of life, but a part of life. The families want to talk and need a good listener. Sometimes when there is strain within the siblings, it disappears when they connect their cherished memories with each other. They comfort each other in their sadness. Tears become smiles and even laughter. Memories are a wonderful healing tool for grieving people who are beginning to absorb, adjust and accept their separation. Memories keeps the reality of their loved ones alive. It is an awakening of some happy thoughts.

Our pastor, Father John Bucchino, OFM, takes all the information I give him, and he ties it into the scriptures they have chosen and prepares a very spiritual and personal homily. His homily brings spiritual warmth and caring to the grieving hearts of the families.

After six years my fears of this ministry have vanished, and I view the funeral ministry as an opportunity to show compassion and kindness to families in need of comforting.

#MakeMercyReal through Forgiveness

September 19, 2017

By David Martineau, executive director, Mercy Housing and Shelter

A client enters St. Elizabeth House, part of Mercy Housing and Shelter.

A caseworker at Mercy Housing and Shelter in Hartford, Connecticut, recently shared this story with me:

“One hot summer day, a young man, Joe*, walked in to the Diversion Center asking for a place to stay. Joe was angry that his mother and father asked him to leave their home because of his marijuana use. I suggested that he sit down, and we spent time talking about what it was like to live in a shelter and the dangers he might encounter living on the streets. As we continued to talk, Joe’s anger began to subside and he seemed to be reconsidering his choices. ‘Could you talk to your mother and ask for forgiveness?’ I suggested. Pausing for a moment, Joe said he didn’t have much hope but was willing to try. He gave me his mother’s phone number. As I talked with his mother, she asked to speak to her son. Through tears Joe and his mother slowly worked out their issues and apologized. Joe’s mother said that he could come home if he promised to get help with his addiction. ‘I will get help,’ I heard Joe say. When Joe’s mother came to get him a short time later, I was aware once again of how the principles of Mercy— respect, compassion and forgiveness — can transform us all.”   Read More »

Stewarding the Earth at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine: Meet Elyse Caiazzo

September 7, 2017

By Emma Deans, Communications Officer at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

As part of her many responsibilities of working on the Saint Joseph’s College farm, Elyse Caiazzo tends to row crops.

At 9:30 a.m. on a summer morning, Elyse Caiazzo, a senior at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, strides across the College’s Pearson’s Town Farm. The sun is already creeping high into the sky with a temperature rising towards 70 degrees. Dressed in cut-off shorts, a tank top and waterproof boots, Elyse points to the various wooden posts she helped install to keep the farm’s livestock penned. She explains, “For those posts we have to dig the holes, remove any large rocks, then put dirt down and smaller rocks in the holes to support the posts, and everything is by hand—no machines!”

Lambs and goats bleat. Crickets chirp. Voices of fellow farm workers and volunteers emerge—conversations containing weekend recaps and plans for the day ahead, which include planting, weeding and harvesting vegetables. Assistant farm manager Alyssa Dolan, also a student, loads her pick-up truck with produce for the local food pantry, Catherine’s Cupboard (which is run by Saint Joseph’s College) while other students ready the farm stand for its opening at 10 a.m.

Elyse finds comfort in this familiar scene. She began volunteering at the farm for two hours a week as a first-year student. “It was life-changing,” she says. Read More »

In the Same Boat … in the Airport

June 12, 2017

By Sister Eileen Dooling, executive director, Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center

Photo of an airport with a large window.Recently I attended a meeting of the leaders of Mercy retreat houses in the United States where the conversation focused on what people need today and how Mercy retreat houses can fill those needs. Everyone spoke deeply about the good people who show up at our doors looking for something— perhaps silence, a reconnection with themselves or God, or a trained and listening ear. I was inspired by the conversation and realized I was not alone in this unique ministry. We agreed to collaborate and cooperate with one another for the common good, to share our ideas and knowledge and to continue to work together.

Feeling rather upbeat, I left the meeting to catch an early afternoon flight from St. Louis, Missouri, to Detroit, Michigan, with a connection to Hartford, Connecticut. Because the plane was late leaving St. Louis, I missed my connection (sound familiar?) but was re-booked on a late afternoon flight instead. As so often happens in air travel, that flight was also delayed, and so we waited and waited. At 11:30 p.m., the flight cancellation was announced, and I made a mad dash (well, not really so much a mad dash as a slow walk) to the Help Desk where one agent was re-booking passengers from several cancelled flights.

It wasn’t until 2:30 a.m. when I was finally rebooked and could settle in to my little space on the terminal floor where, with hundreds of other travelers, I tried in vain to sleep. My rebooked flight was not scheduled to leave until late that evening, but a standby seat on a 12:30 p.m. flight opened and—by some divine intervention?—I was awarded that seat.   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 »

Marching in Solidarity with Immigrants in New York City and Beyond

March 28, 2017

By Sister Suzanne Deliee

I participated in a solidarity march with immigrants on March 4, a freezing cold morning. Held in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood, the march included representatives of community agencies in the South Bronx, including Mercy Center, which serve underprivileged women and families.

The atmosphere was pleasant and upbeat, but determined. The crowd—mostly younger folks, families and children and immigration advocates—included a large group from Little Sisters of the Assumption (LSA) Family Health Service, where I have ministered as a nurse since 1993.

Afraid to be out in public

Sister Suzanne with the immigration march’s keynote speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who serves as Speaker of the New York City Council, an East Harlem Council representative, and a national leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Sister Suzanne’s sign says, “Immigrants want respect, equality, justice, peace, not walls.” Photo courtesy of Sister Suzanne Deliee.

Sister Suzanne with the immigration march’s keynote speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, who serves as Speaker of the New York City Council, an East Harlem Council representative, and a national leader in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. Sister Suzanne’s sign says, “Immigrants want respect, equality, justice, peace, not walls.” Photo courtesy of Sister Suzanne Deliee.

At the back of the fast-moving group, I walked with a woman who was handicapped and using a walker. We were equally trying to keep up with the march. She said she had to walk to support the immigrants in our midst. “They deserve to be here,” she told me. “[They are] wonderful dedicated members of our community.” And so she walked, joining in with the chants. There was no violence, no resistance. Even some police officers chanted and chatted.

The march finished inside a community counseling center where we heard testimonies from people who talked of their children’s fears, the lack of understanding and racist remarks they encountered, and their desperate desire to live with a sense of “realistic hope.” Families were counseled to make plans for their children, to have all papers in order, and to know how to respond if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (also called ICE or La Migra) comes calling.

The turnout for the march was lower than expected, as many immigrants are afraid to be out in public. They live in fear of picking up their kids from school, taking the train to work and going to medical appointments. The agency where I work, in conjunction with other agencies, will continue to hold workshops and provide immigration lawyers to counsel people on their rights.   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 »

Finding Mercy in the Midst of Warriors and Veterans

October 26, 2016

By Sister Maureen Mitchell, vice president, Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community

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Books and mementos in Sister Maureen’s office. Credit: Catherine Walsh.

It seems incongruous to say that I found mercy in the midst of warriors and veterans. When I first accepted the job as clinical pastoral education supervisor at a Veterans Hospital, I asked myself: How does training chaplains, seminarians, and laypeople to minister to the spiritual needs of veterans help with the critical needs of our time, especially our world’s need for peaceful, nonviolent solutions to conflict? I was encouraged when I read about the early Sisters of Mercy ministering on Civil War battlefields. This gave me an inkling into what our founder Catherine McAuley taught the first Sisters of Mercy—whenever and wherever human suffering presents itself, Mercy needs to walk alongside.   Read More »