Pray for the Sisters of Mercy

Is there any group in the American Catholic church that has done so much while receiving so little appreciation than Catholic sisters? 

No. 

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Women religious helped to build our church, teach our children, nurse our infants, care for our elderly, feed our poor, manage our parishes and spread the Gospel, with astonishing faith, ingenuity, talent, diligence, and plain old hard work.  They did so, in love with Christ and inspired by their redoubtable foundresses, under a patriarchal (not a calumny, just a descriptor) system that undervalued them, with paltry salaries (a reason that their communities are struggling today), and in the face of false cultural stereotypes.  Given all that, they had a much harder row to hoe than priests and men’s religious orders.  One is reminded of the comment that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels.

Today, many women religious, who were given little by way of salaries for their work in elementary-school education, nursing and social work, are facing difficult financial times. This moving article, by the estimable David Gonzalez, in today’s New York Times, focuses on the Sisters of Mercy in Brooklyn, who are being forced to move, for financial and other reasons, from their beloved mother house.  While religious men and women in the active life are not to be "attached" as St. Ignatius Loyola would say, to bricks and mortars, the story is a sad one nonetheless.

"Now, after 146 years, it is time for the small band of sisters, most of them retired, to walk away from the convent. The leadership of their order, the Sisters of Mercy, decided to shutter the place and scatter the sisters to other homes and nursing facilities after realizing it would cost more than $20 million to fix serious structural and accessibility problems in the fortresslike building..."

Read the article here and look at the moving slide show on the Times’s site.  And, by the way, that is Sister Camille D’Arienzo, RSM, America contributor, pictured above in the photo by James Estrin. 

Are there any wealthy readers out there who feel generous this Christmas?  Here is the Sisters of Mercy’s website. And here is the website for the Retirement Fund for Religious

James Martin, SJ

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
9 years 7 months ago
As a Religious Sister of Mercy in the South Central Community it has both warmed and saddened my heart to read recent articles about the Sisters of Mercy in Brooklyn, New York. I have known the fear of (possibly) losing home, but we in Belmont,N.C. have been generously blessed. The sense of loss touched my heart again when I read about my sisters in New York. Even though we know a change is coming, it is still difficult to let go. The emotional pain can rush upon us in waves too profound to comfort with words. I pray that in time, the sisters will encounter familiar peace and be strengthened by the overflow of gratitude and love. May they experience the gracious warmth of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Inc. Your sister in Christ, Larretta Rivera-Williams, RSM
9 years 6 months ago
Oh, that the right people would read this and find it in their hearts to minister to these kind women who have done so much for so many through the years. My prayer in the coming days is for the Sisters of Mercy - Brooklyn to find a benefactor or benefactors to finance their very worthy cause. Anyone who sees this article might consider spreading the word whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself. We just never know who might possess the resources to help the Sisters, therefore, may God put us in the right places at the right times so that we may be conduits in bringing financial help to the Brooklyn Sisters of Mercy. May God permit the right eyes and ears to receive the message that aid is desperately needed in order to keep these elderly Sisters in the convent that their Order has called ''home'' for close to 150 years.

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