Mercy High School’s community prayer, a reflection that is included in morning announcements distributed to students, faculty and staff, is a collaboration between the Catholic high schools in Omaha. It was organized by the high school campus ministers. Each school has taken turns having a student or other member of their community record a video of themselves reading or sharing a prayer. The campus ministers uses a Google document to organize their efforts and attach the links. These shared assets are then available to all schools to use in morning announcements.
“I think it is a great idea, and I am proud of our Omaha Catholic school community for demonstrating the collegiality that is so needed right now in our world,” said Kristi Walters Wessling ’88, principal.
There is a sample of this effort in the following link.
Meg Maynard ’13 is a third generation Woman of Mercy who discovered the power of social justice during her years at Mercy High School. She now works for a nonprofit that provides after-school programs, adult learning and family initiatives at homeless shelters.
Even though she was a Mercy legacy, Meg had a choice of which Catholic school to attend. She shadowed at all three all-girls Catholic schools in Omaha, but ‘Mercy felt right.’ Her grandmothers Rosemary Litton Maynard SM'44 and Ann Bendon Wieberg ’57, her mother, Angela Wieberg Maynard ’83, as well as several aunts and cousins are all Mercy alumnae.
While at the school, Meg played soccer and volleyball, was a member of the MESS spirit club, and went on the trip to Ireland during her junior year. She was also a Student Council representative all four years as well as president her senior year.
“Student Council was probably my favorite activity. I enjoyed the work behind the scenes and the fulfillment when those activities came to life. I also liked the way that students and faculty came together for these efforts. My participation taught me leadership, gave me confidence, and it was fun,” she said.
Meg is especially proud that during her time on Student Council, the group created SIESTA, the student version of the annual FIESTA fundraiser, to support Mission Week.
“Traditions are such an important part of Mercy, and we created one that is part of the school’s student life landscape now,” she said.
According to Meg, Mercy’s small class sizes and the dedication and commitment of the teachers sets Mercy apart from other schools.
“The teachers were amazing. They were willing to help you inside and outside of the classroom. They are still helping me today. In fact, Ms. Mandi Marcuccio has become somewhat of a mentor to me. She is always present and passionate about education and her enthusiasm is contagious,” she said.
Meg’s favorite classes were in theology. A project on foster care that included research and writing a paper was a pivotal moment for Meg. That activity reinforced her commitment to social justice and evidentially led to her to the work she does now.
“I was unsure of what I was going to study in college. This project opened my eyes and ignited a spark in me. It led me to my major in social work and my career,” she said.
After graduation, Meg went to Creighton University where she majored in Spanish and social work. She continued her involvement in leadership activities though participation in Creighton’s Freshman Leadership Program. She was also a sophomore mentor and served as a Resident Advisor during both her junior and senior years.
“Mercy instilled in me the confidence to be a leader. The community there builds you up, encourages you to succeed. Without the distraction and competition from men, shyness disappears. I never feel intimidated, and I have the courage to try new things,” she said.
She graduated from Creighton in 2017. Now she works at a nonprofit called Completely KIDS to coordinate after school programs, adult learning and family initiatives in homeless shelters.
“Kids programs include snacks, a relaxing activity, a question of the day, and lessons for the day. Sometimes we have outside partners share programs on the arts and other skill-building activities,” she said.
Adult learning takes place at the Ronald McDonald house and includes many activities.
Meg tries to keep in touch with her Mercy community through social media and attends alumnae events when she can.
“Mercy’s social media presence is strong and engaging. It keeps me involved and I love reading what is going on,” she said.
Through her family, teachers, in work and her passion for social justice, Meg’s ties to Mercy are strong. She feels Mercy is a part of who she is, and she sums it up with a quote that Mrs. Kristi Walters Wessling ’88, current principal, once shared with her: “You never really leave a place you love. Part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind.”
A Lent Like No Other: Turn Isolation into Thanksgiving, Love & Service
We are almost midway through Lent. What does that mean during this most unusual time? Our Churches are open, but only for private reflection. We cannot come together as the worshipping community, the Body of Christ. We cannot receive the gift of Eucharist! So what does that mean for you and for me? Perhaps, as a family, we can come together at least once daily to share another form of Eucharist…that is what the word Eucharist means.
THANKSGIVING. Here is the new Lenten challenge: for whom, for when, for what are we thankful? Could you or we find at least one reason each day, together, to say: Thank God for… Does this time of isolation and confinement now give us time as a family to gather around the dinner table, to eat together and share our thoughts, feelings, conversation? Could it be that our God is asking us to slow down, to notice to listen? I for one, surely ponder this question.
“LOVE one another as I have loved you,” Jesus. I hear stories even after one week of confinement, people going stir crazy. Students confined, learning online, no face to face social time. How can we remain patient and loving in this kind of environment? I am reminded of the story of the two prisoners. One looked out and saw mud while the other looked out and saw sunshine or stars. Loving kindness may well be a challenge. If we can think globally and how temporary this is for us, perhaps, just maybe this confinement, frustration, worry, can be our prayer for so many who are suffering. I just read a note from our friend, Sister Marylyn Lacey, Sister of Mercy, Mercy Beyond Borders Director. In the note she speaks of the students at St. Bakita’s, a boarding school, South Sudan, trying to protect themselves as they sleep three to one bed. Pray with loving kindness and love beyond ourselves.
SERVICE: As we look beyond our own household, are there people to whom we can extend a helping hand: grocery shopping, delivering a meal, a phone call or a written message. I include myself in this challenge and what I am realizing that I am making phones calls to folks each day that I ordinarily would not have called. Can limitations on our freedom imposed upon us be transformed into special Lenten offerings like no other we have ever experienced?
Finally, I believe one of the greatest challenges for each of us is to TRUST. When tempted to be fearful, can we realize that fear comes from the unknown. None of us knows what is in store for us. We don’t know what to expect from one day to the next.
During this time when Churches are closed and we are “enclosed” let us pray for open hearts—for trust in God’s loving providence for you, for me, for our country, for our world.
Catherine McAuley’s Suscipe has a line and a prayer that I believe is so appropriate for this time: “Teach me to cast myself entirely into the loving arms of your divine providence.”
Let’s DO IT!
Dear Friends of Mercy,
This Sunday morning, I am praying for all of you. We are all experiencing a week of rapid changes, a roller coaster market, concerns for health, for …. we don’t know what. Please remember that you are the people (depending on your age) who have lived through Y2K, the tragedy of September 11, the floods of 2019, and personal tragedies; we will be the people who LIVE through “the virus”. It is okay to be uneasy. You’re being in touch with reality.
Here are a few tips I am using to LIVE through these days:
Pray: Every day I start with the Catherine McAuley’s Suscipe. I do find myself focusing on the line “take from my heart all painful anxiety.” It helps me to remember our God is with us, and it helps me create the space to quiet myself and be centered on our loving God. Find that prayer time and space for yourself please.
Find beauty or something that makes you smile: Take a moment to find beauty in the day. It may be the smile of another person, artwork, or a piece of music. You know where you find beauty. Also, find that something that makes you smile or laugh. Around my house we have a dachshund. When he comes galloping into a room I have to smile, actually I laugh.
Others: You have the power to make other people's lives better right now. We can reach out to people who are shut in—drop a note, call or, in this day and age, Facetime them. Or do something radical like thank the clerk in the grocery store. It is worth the look of surprise on their face. You know what you good you can do.
Thank you for taking a moment to read this note. You are important to me. Please remember take care of yourself, remember all those you love and who love you, be adaptable and pray all of us.
While Rebecca Jacobson ’02 was at Mercy, if any activity involved writing or performing, she was probably part of it. Her professional career has followed those passions and she currently works in science communications for the JILA, a joint physics laboratory with the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Her journey began in 1998, when she decided to attend Mercy because her sister, Angela Jacobson Weiss ’99 attended the school and it was in the neighborhood.
“At Mercy, I was an honors student and a music and theatre participant. I was part of choir, the Mercy High Singers, and was in all of the one-act and fall plays, as well as spring musicals. I also wrote for the school’s literary magazine,” she said.
In addition to writing and performing, the alumna also developed a passion for social justice, activism and civic responsibility from her classes.
“Some of my religion classes senior year were basically introductory moral philosophy classes. My ‘Media and Morality’ class is one of the reasons why I wanted to study film. From writing weekly letters to Amnesty International in English class to current events quizzes, I went into the world able to discuss local and foreign affairs easily,” she said.
After graduation, she decided to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Film Studies.
“Mercy’s emphasis on writing research papers gave me an advantage over other freshman entering college. I was in an honors program at Nebraska, and some of my classmates had never written a paper longer than two pages. I was already writing 10-15-page papers by my senior year,” she said.
Rebecca started interning at Nebraska Educational Television (NET) her sophomore year in college, working on local documentaries until she graduated.
“Working at NET put me on the journalism path. Mercy had given me a lot of experience performing in front of others, so I felt at ease talking in front of a group and working with a camera or microphone,” she said.
Next, she took an internship with National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C. From there, Rebecca joined The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) News Hour as a production assistant and later became a reporter and producer in their Denver office. Her work entailed everything you could do in a TV newsroom: shooting video, taking photos, editing, writing, reporting, setting up lights, arranging catering and travel and developing budgets. She covered politics, health, and the arts but found her niche covering science and technology.
Rebecca left TV broadcasting in 2019 to take her current position. The lab she works at studies quantum physics, including ultrafast lasers, biophysics, chemical physics, precision measurement, optical atomic clocks, and astrophysics. The lab has won numerous accolades including two Nobel prizes.
“I refer to my job as being a ‘science cheerleader,’ championing advances of physics for the public. My task is to use every tool at my disposal—videos, photos, articles—to help non-scientists understand why this work is so important. I also help our scientists learn how to talk to the public about their research, whether that’s with journalists or potential funders,” she said.
Rebecca acknowledges that the shift to science communications is a bit of a pivot but reflecting on her high school education and journalism career, it makes sense.
“I had great science teachers at Mercy, all inspiring women who really sparked my curiosity in STEM. They gave me the foundation to understand science and appreciate it even if I didn’t have the skills to be a scientist myself. In fact, at PBS I started regular Pi Day celebrations because I remembered celebrating Pi Day and Mole Day in my Mercy classes. Mercy always taught us to use our talents to benefit society, and science needs storytellers.”
She doesn’t get back to Omaha often, but she will be Skyping in to share her story with Mercy students on Career Day, March 30. As part of Kaleidoscope, Mercy’s unique four-year leadership and empowerment program, alumnae will be sharing insights about their careers during that day during that day.