By Mitchell Marsh
Mitchell Marsh is a senior at Mercyhurst University studying hospitality management and marketing.
The Ambassador Organization is a longstanding tradition at Mercyhurst University. Its mission entails being the “keepers and preservers of the Mercy tradition.” Ambassadors are responsible for not only representing the university through campus events, admissions tours and public appearances, but also for connecting with the Sisters of Mercy and keeping their mission alive on campus. All Ambassadors are educated on the history of the Sisters of Mercy and our institution as a whole.
Throughout my time at Mercyhurst, students, faculty and staff alike have been aware of the decreased presence of sisters on campus, causing concern for many. How do we, as a community, continue to spread the Mercy mission if the Sisters of Mercy are no longer physically present?
One potential solution to this quandary is the Mercy Emissary Program, which educates participants on the history of the Sisters of Mercy, their Mercy mission and Catholic social teaching as a whole. This program has existed for about four years under the guidance of Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, a Mercyhurst University Mission Associate.
As a Mercyhurst student, I have been intrigued not only by how the Sisters have shaped our campus and our mission as an institution, but by their historical mission of providing health care and education to women and children. I knew they’d taken vows, but confess to feeling a little uncertain about what their current mission is.
After talking with fellow students, faculty and staff, it became clear to me that a student version of the Employee Mercy Emissary Program was warranted, and much desired. I presented my idea to Vice President for Mission Dr. Greg Baker, who shared that he, too, was interested in launching a Student Mercy Emissary Program to help students learn more about the sisters and their charism. The first planning meeting was held shortly thereafter, in spring 2019.
Dr. Baker and I gathered university administrators, faculty and students alike to collaborate and discuss the vision for this program. After several rounds of these brainstorming sessions/planning meetings, the Mercyhurst University Student Mercy Emissary Program officially got underway in fall 2019. The first information session for students was held in mid-November.
This is exciting!
Now, you might be asking yourself what the Student Mercy Emissary Program consists of? Having not gone through the program yet, I must confess that I don’t quite know. This much I can tell you. As we officially launch, the Student Emissary Program focuses more on what we are not than what we are. We are not:
- Proselytizing the Catholic faith (or any faith tradition)
- An elite or exclusionary program
- An opportunity to grow your resume
- A prerequisite to enter another organization
Our goals consist of:
- Empowering students as guardians of Mercyhurst’s history and the charism of the Sisters of Mercy
- Developing and embracing a deepening understanding of the Mercy mission
- Strengthening students’ connection to Catholic social teaching and the Catholic intellectual tradition
- Fostering humble leadership in service of Mercy
We have also encountered a need for an Alumni Mercy Emissary Program. Ryan Palm, associate vice president for advancement, has been eager to assist with this goal, and we are in the planning process for an alumni chapter.
I am very excited to take part in this program and watch it grow in the future. I am grateful to have played a role in its formation and for the opportunity to share my passion with the entire extended Mercyhurst community and with our founders, the Sisters of Mercy.
The Mercy Emissary Program could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of not only those mentioned above, but of Meaghan Hubert, Joseph Howard, Christian Copper, Jeremy Hewitt, Michelle Skully, Courtney Lang and Dr. Simona Carruba. Thanks to all of them.