December 31, 2003

Sisters Dedicate House of Mercy in Heartland of U.S.A.

The Cedar Rapids Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, celebrated the dedication of their Waterloo House of Mercy on December 12, 2003, at 2 p.m. A special blessing ceremony at the house, which is located at 112 Franklin Street in Waterloo, Iowa, USA, marked the transition of the house to an official House of Mercy. Sister Sheila Carney, RSM, a member of the Leadership Team of the national Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, represented all Sisters of Mercy at the blessing

Sisters singing

Left to Right: Sister Kathy Thornton president of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa, USA) Regional Community and Sister Sheila Carney, RSM, member of the leadership team of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, join in song at the blessing ceremony of the Waterloo (Iowa) House of Mercy.

The Waterloo House of Mercy was the seventh official house to open. Those already in existence are located in Erie, Pennsylvania; Chanmangua, Guatemala; Burlington, Vermont; Hartford, Connecticut; Baltimore, Maryland; and Benton Harbor, Michigan.

House full of guests

Following the Blessing of the Waterloo (Iowa, USA) House of Mercy, a full house of guests enjoyed some of the famous Mercy Hospitality

In 1999, when the delegates of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas attended their Chapter meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, they voted to adopt an Action Plan resolution calling for the founding of at least 31 Institute Houses of Mercy. The Houses are founded in older, established neighborhoods to provide a ministry of Mercy presence. By becoming a part of the neighborhood, the sisters have the opportunity to really get to know their neighbors and to promote advocacy for needed neighborhood changes. To qualify as an official House of Mercy, each House must possess some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Multicultural resident communities living a simple life of Mercy spirituality and hospitality in solidarity with the people of the neighborhoods.
  • Ministries of direct service and empowerment, identified by and implemented with the people of the neighborhoods.
  • Ministries of advocacy and systemic change, identified by and implemented with the people of the neighborhoods.

Sisters already living and ministering in Houses of Mercy in other areas are pleased to report the neighborhoods have been most welcoming. Typically, the Sisters become readily immersed in the neighborhoods, establishing family activities, evenings of soup and spirituality, study groups on racism, area beautification projects, political activities, and neighborhood organizations.

The Waterloo House of Mercy is now home to three Sisters of Mercy. Sisters Rose Marie Martensen, RSM, who began her Mercy ministries in elementary education before going into pastoral ministry; Alice Maiers, RSM, who was in medical technology, before shifting her focus to pastoral ministry; and Phyllis Ann Ries, RSM, who formerly served in elementary education, and more recently as a Spiritual Center Tai Chi instructor and Reiki practitioner. Sister Phyllis Ann shared this thought, “Sister Rose Marie taught at St. John School in Waterloo; Sister Alice was part of the ministry team at St. John Parish and also manager at St. Mary’s Villa, both in Waterloo; and although this is my first ministry in Waterloo, all three of us feel as though we’ve come home.”


Left to Right: Sisters Rose Marie Martensen, Alice Maiers and Phyllis Ann Ries of the Cedar Rapids (Iowa, USA) Regional Community are the Mercys making the Waterloo (Iowa) House of Mercy their home.

As this House of Mercy becomes a reality, it is yet another chapter in the history of the Mercys in the heartland of the United States of America, and indeed, the world.

For more information contact:

Char Cordes, Director

Sisters of Mercy
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Phone: 1 319 364 5196

Back to All News