Mercy Week has been a part of Mercyhurst traditions for about 10 years. While in the past it has also taken place as a “Mercy Month,” this year it occurs from March 19 to 27, and has events each day.
The week is being sponsored by the Mercyhurst University Mission Committee — a group that includes faculty, administrators and students. Representatives from Mercyhurst Student Government have become very involved in the planning process and are incorporating social media activities and events into the week.
“The idea is to show that the Mercy tradition is living and active and not just historical,” said Greg Baker, director of Campus Ministry. “It’s a week to celebrate the fact that we do a lot of cool things throughout the year.”
The programs taking place this year are being driven by the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy: immigration, earth, nonviolence, racism and women.
“These are things that are really crucial that we should be paying attention to,” Baker said.
The Ecumenical Prayer service — taking place in Christ the King Chapel at noon on Monday, March 20 — will focus on these critical concerns.
Students from North East were also incorporated this year. They were invited to a brunch and tour with the Sisters of Mercy at the Motherhouse this past Sunday.
There are many events taking place throughout the week. “Stuff the Shed!” is a campus-wide collection of items for the House of Mercy. It began Tuesday and continues until Friday. There was also a program on Tuesday that worked with refugee women to record traditional songs, as well as Encourage an Employee Day.
“We definitely need to make sure that this week has both employee-centered and student-centered retreats,” Baker said.
Another way in which the faculty and staff are involved is the Living Mercy luncheon, where both students and professors will discuss how their recent trips, programs and experiences have been a representation of Living Mercy.
The 2017 Archbishop Oscar Romero Award is being presented as a part of Mercy Week to Douglas Villella,O.D., at 7 p.m., on Thursday, in the Mercy Heritage Room. The award is being presented by the Department of Religious Studies.
Villella is an optometrist living in Erie, and is the executive director of Vision for the Poor. In addition to receiving the award, he will give a lecture on his work in Haiti and Latin America to develop eye care clinics for the poor.
On Friday, the Tuesday Night Catholic Devotions is sponsoring a 24-hour fast and retreat at the Miller estate in North East. There will be numerous activities, including Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and various games. Students who are interested in attending can contact TNCD@mercyhurst.edu.
The closing event, on Monday is “Erie’s Next Mayor: Candidates Respond to Voices of Faith” at 7 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center. The event is a forum in which each of the nine mayoral candidates will have the opportunity to respond to statements from four faith groups.
Baker also indicated that the events for Mercy Week are not specifically Catholic.
“We’re pretty intentionally ecumenical about it. The Sisters of Mercy have always understood themselves and this university as ecumenical,” Baker said.
Baker also stressed that this week merely highlights what Mercyhurst works to do all the time, exhibiting and celebrating its roots in the Mercy tradition.
“The nature of living mercy is that you don’t draw a lot of attention to it.”