Hurst campuses celebrate spring tradition with Mercy Week festivities

Rebecca Dunphy, Staff writer

Spring is a time of renewal and new life.

Mercyhurst University uses the fresh breath of spring to remind the school of the founding ideals of the Sisters of Mercy in the Mercy tradition.

Across both the Erie and North East campuses, students, faculty and community members are celebrating Mercy Week from April 8-12.

“My primary goal for this week is for people to recognize that our Catholic, Mercy Mission is not merely a historical heritage. It is alive, active and creative,” Greg Baker, Ph.D., vice president of Mercy Mission Integration, said.

Since 2008, this celebration of Mercy has been an annual tradition, though it has changed its form throughout the past 11 years from a month to a week-long event.

The week’s events are planned and sponsored by the University Mission Committee, a collaborative group of students, administrators and faculty from both of the Mercyhurst campuses.
The Mercy Mission is not merely confined to the university and the community of Erie.

It is crucial that Mercyhurst lives out the Mission outside of the gates.

“Most importantly, our Mercy mission is important for the world. A rigorous education infused with this mission can bring forth exactly the sort of students that this world needs, especially those people who live on the margins and are too often forgotten about,” Baker said.

This year, events are centered around special guest Sister Marilyn Lacey, the founder of Mercy Beyond Borders.

“This is an international charity that makes education available to women and girls in South Sudan and Haiti,” Baker said. “Sister Marilyn has extraordinary stories to share and her writings, especially her book ‘This Flowing Toward Me,’ are beloved to our community.”

Students may be familiar with her work as many senior ethics capstone courses utilize the text.

The week kicked off with “Encourage an Employee” on April 9.

“‘Encourage an Employee’ is an opportunity for employees to click on a link and send an email to encourage another co-worker on campus,” Campus Ministry assistant director, Jenell Patton said.

“We’ve done it a few years now. People enjoy sending them and receiving them. It is another form of mercy as people take the time to invest in someone else through an act of kindness.”

On Wednesday, the “Reflections of Mercy” Prayer Service will be held in the Christ the King Chapel at 2 p.m., planned by Religious Studies associate professor Richard McCarty, Ph.D.

Lacey will be speaking at the event, as well as junior Integrated Marketing Communications major Abigail Staub and senior Intelligence and Religious Studies double major Christian Copper. Both of these students will be sharing what the Mercy tradition means to them as students.

On April 11, students have two opportunities to hear from Lacey at a storytelling and question-and-answer session. The first event will be held from 9:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., at the Mercyhurst North East Student Union with coffee and danishes provided. Later in the day, the same event will take place over sandwiches from noon to 12:45 p.m. in the Erie campus’ Student Union Great Room.

Students also have Dog Days to look forward to from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Trinity Green. This annual event is co-sponsored by Campus Ministry and the Student Athletic Advisory Council.

Another annual tradition will be held the following afternoon, on April 12: Tour and Tea at the Mercy Motherhouse at 3 p.m. This event, planned by Mission Associate Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, is open to all students. Those attending should plan to arrive at the Motherhouse on East Grandview Boulevard no later than 3:15 p.m.

“I hope they will see that there are still plenty of Sisters around who care about Mercyhurst University, and, more importantly, about our students,” Baker said. “I hope the students will recognize that these Sisters are real, down-to-earth people, just like our students, who have found their particular path for living a meaningful life in service of others.”

Though the week promises lots of fun and education, Baker hopes that the week renews community members appreciation of Mercy as a gift.

“It is first and foremost given to us by God,” Baker said. “We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Sisters who have given so much to this institution. We have the choice as to whether we allow our hearts to be transformed in such a way as to extend that gift to others as well.”