April 19, 2011

Local Mercy Community Sets Direction, Elects New Leadership

 The Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas elected new leadership at its recent six-day Assembly themed, “Passion, Purpose, and Promise,” which took place in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Elected to five-year terms were President Patricia Vetrano, RSM, Vice-President Kathleen Keenan, RSM, and leadership team members, Catherine Darcy, RSM, Honora Nicholson, RSM, and Patricia Smith, RSM.

The newly-elected Mid-Atlantic Community leadership team includes (front row, left to right) President Sister Patricia Vetrano, RSM and Vice-President Sister Kathleen Keenan, RSM, and (back row, left to right) Sisters Catherine Darcy, RSM, Patricia Smith, RSM, and Honora Nicholson, RSM. Three of the five members are from Philadelphia, Sisters Kathleen Keenan, Patricia Smith, and Honora Nicholson. Their five-year term starts July 1, 2011.

Their terms begin on July 1.
 
President Sister Patricia Vetrano, RSM, currently ministers as the vice-president on the current Mid-Atlantic Community leadership team. Vice-President Sister Kathleen Keenan, RSM, currently serves as vice president of mission and sponsorship at Mercy Health System. Sister Honora Nicholson, RSM, currently serves on the Mid-Atlantic Community leadership team Sister Patricia Smith, RSM, currently serves as the principal of Waldron Mercy Academy, a Mercy sponsored private elementary school in Merion, PA. Sister Catherine Darcy, RSM, currently ministers as the vice chancellor for the Camden Diocese in New Jersey.

Keynote speaker at the Assembly, Sister Mary Waskowiak, President of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, compared leadership to the story of Exodus in Scripture that took the Israelites on a long journey across the desert.

“It’s the story of who is in charge, and it’s certainly not the leaders,” she said April 8 to laughter among participants at the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Assembly at the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, N.J. About 500 sisters representing portions of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania participated in their Governance Assembly to pray, discern a direction for the next five years and choose new leadership.

Sister Mary Waskowiak, RSM, the president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, talks to the Mid-Atlantic Community about the qualities needed for leadership at their 2011 Assembly.

In her talk on a day when sisters were discerning new leaders, Sister Mary cited humility, inspiration, learning from experiences and the need to be contemplative and qualities for good leadership.
“The school of leadership is a holy, human experience,” she said.

Looking at her audience, she asked, “Aren’t we lucky to be called to Mercy?”

Sister of Mercy Sister Margaret Farley, Ph.D., challenged assembly participants on April 6 at the Mid-Atlantic Assembly to be examples of forgiveness and live a crucified love that, tried by fire, survives and enables us to lay down our lives for others.

“Every great love is a crucified love,” said Sister Margaret in a keynote talk on April 6 titled, “Mercy Under the Sign of the Cross and Resurrection.” She said Jesus and Catherine McAuley, Sister of Mercy foundress, were examples of those who lived that love.

“It holds steady and strong no matter what must be borne; no matter what failings must be overcome, accepted or forgiven; not matter what limits are experienced in day-to-day living and working together; no matter what threatens from external forces,” she said.

A member of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community, Sister Margaret is an ethicist and professor emerita at the Yale Divinity School. She co-founded the All-Africa Conference, a project intended to bring together African women religious to develop strategies for responding to the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

In a wide-ranging keynote address, Sister Margaret addressed situations in society, the church and Mercy community. She said many in the Community are aging, but, paraphrasing the words of Mark Twain when his obituary was prematurely published, “Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Referencing a quote from theologian Karl Rahner, she said, “Not everyone gets to live into old age, but for anyone who does, it must be part of their vocation.”

She said many sisters still have much to do regarding relationships and ministries.

Sister Margaret described forgiveness as the most important Spiritual Work of Mercy. She called participants to a model of ministry rooted in John’s gospel in which Jesus says, “As God has loved me, so I have loved you; as I have loved you, so you are to love one another.”

“This is the model for love and for the deeds of love. It is a model not of hierarchy and subordination, but of equality and mutuality.” she said. “Forgive. If not you, then who else.”

Also on April 6, Assembly participants enjoyed a visit from Frances Warde who was portrayed in a one-act play by Lisa Bansavage, a local actress. Warde came to Pittsburgh from Ireland in 1854 to start the first Sisters of Mercy community in the United States. Standing beside a writing desk on which was placed a ceramic teapot and cup, Bansavage captured the spirit of Frances with a mix of humor, thoughtfulness and a touch of an Irish brogue.

Sisters bless the new president of the Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy at their 2011 Assembly. The image of the new president, Sister Patricia Vetrano, RSM, is projected on the screen.

At a Mass of the Holy Spirit on April 8 the sisters who were gathered began their process for the election of new leaders. Sister Christine McCann, RSM, current President of the Mid-Atlantic Community, presided at the election. Building on the Assembly theme – Passion, Purpose, Promise - Sr. Christine reminded the Sisters, “It is in the promise of the Spirit that we will elect new leaders whom we will call to animate our passion for mercy and lead us in our shared purpose. Our affirmation of them is a promise of our love and support.”

In her closing remarks at the Assembly, newly-elected President Sister Patricia Vetrano, RSM, remarked, “Together we are on a sacred journey standing on holy ground, doing holy work. We live in hope and look forward to all that we will become. Let us dream our future together.”

Portions of the assembly were webcast to groups of sisters who were unable to attend in person.
The Sisters of Mercy are an international religious community of Roman Catholic women who help people who are poor, sick, and in need of education, especially women and children. In the Mid-Atlantic Community, which encompasses the states of New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania, more than 1,000 sisters and 900 associates continue the work of Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, by serving God by committing their lives and resources to helping people in need and changing unjust systems.

Sisters from the Mid-Atlantic Community serve in ministries in 20 states in the United States and in two countries in South America by helping people in need and serving them with Mercy and compassion. For more information the Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community, visit www.mercymidatlantic.org

Messages to Debbi Della Porta - Director of Communications
Source: Mid-Atlantic Community Media release

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