Living out the Mercy tradition set out by the Sisters of Mercy is something that most students, professors and staff members at Mercyhurst set out to achieve. With fewer and fewer Sisters of Mercy currently present on cam-pus compared to when the college was founded, the responsibility for carrying out the core values of the Mercy tradition has seen a shift from Sisters to laypeople.
This led to the creation of the Mercy Emissary program five years ago.
The program is set up with a class-like learning environment that passes on the traditions and values that are at the core of what the Sisters of Mercy represent.
“Mercy Emissaries began in response to our clear sense that the future of the Mercy charism at our University will increasingly depend on employees and students, and friends of the university who are not Sisters, but still care about and know the Mercy tradition,” said Greg Baker, Ph.D.
Baker serves as vice president for Mission Integration and is instrumental in helping to deliver the Mercy Emissary program each year.
“It is a year-long program that teaches about the founding and history of the Sisters of Mercy; the history of Mercyhurst University; the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teaching; and the Current Ministries and the Spirituality of the Sisters of Mercy,” said Baker.
Over the past five years roughly 160 Mercyhurst employees have completed the program. Last year, the Mercy Emissary program initiated its first ever student cohort with 25 students completing the program. These students will be recognized at a ceremony on Sept. 25 this year.
Baker believes the fact that students wanted their own version of the program highlights its success. “The program has helped so many people to more deeply understand and love the Mercy tradition, and has made significant steps in helping employees and students recognize that even though there are not as many Sisters on our campus as there were in earlier years, the Mercy tradition is alive and well here.”
The Mercy Emissary program will be taking another step in further expanding its outreach this year by beginning its first ever alumni course.
“We decided that this was the right year to begin, especially now that we all have suddenly become much more proficient in online meetings through platforms like Zoom. We hope to offer the pro-gram to alumni every two years,” Baker said. The meeting schedule for the alumni sessions has been established, with the first session set to take place on Oct. 4, which is Homecoming weekend.
“We will begin the classes during Homecoming from Home – a virtual Homecoming Week-end featuring many events and activities for alumni to celebrate from the safety of their homes,” said Lindsay Frank, director of Alumni Engagement. “I was a part of the very first group of employees to become Mercy Emissaries so this is something that is personally very exciting for me to be able to share with our alumni.”
The sessions will continue throughout the academic year, with the schedule having been made with convenience for alumni in mind. “The first session will be an information session and the first class for the alumni, and then we will continue it throughout the academic year. Alumni will tune in to live Zoom class sessions, and we will offer lunch time and evening sessions for alumni to attend, giving them options to best fit their schedules,” said Frank.
The program has had a good response from alumni so far and looks set to continue to expand its reach.
“Thus far we have almost 50 alumni signed up to begin the process. I am excited for it and cannot wait to see how it goes and how we can continue it into the future,” said Frank.
The Mercy Emissary Program is a perfect way for anyone interested in gaining a deeper under-standing of the values that the Sisters of Mercy have developed over decades of social work.
“The program educates, but it also builds community and helps participants to apply the priorities and spirit of the Mercy tradition to their own life, regardless of their personal religious background,” said Baker.
Alumni interested in further looking into the program can contact Lindsay Frank at email@example.com.