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Sisters of Mercy Mentoring

March 01, 2019
By Deb Daley

It has been called a rite of passage, a privilege, and a one-of-a-kind connection program.  The Sisters of Mercy’s Mentoring Program is one of the newer traditions at Mercy High School that has become a student favorite and part of the fabric of the school experience.  The brainchild of then-Principal Carolyn Jaworski in 2002, the program is intended to promote awareness of the Sisters of Mercy, establish their presence beyond sisters at the school, and an opportunity to share their lives beyond teaching in the classroom. 

“The idea came to me after I had an interview with a recent alumna.  She talked about a similar program at her college where religious interacted with students on campus.  I thought it had relevance here and brought the concept to the attention of our community leadership. They gave it their full support,” Carolyn said. 

Four times a year the Sisters of Mercy meet with juniors at Mercy High School. They get to know each other, dialogue about current issues, and have conversations centered on the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy including human trafficking, immigration, sustainability, racism, and more.   

“Initially there was some apprehension from the Sisters because they haven’t been around students recently. That immediately dissipated when the program began, and it has become a favorite activity,” said Sr. Jeanne O’Rourke, RSM, Mercy’s Spiritual Companion who currently coordinates the program.

At the height of the program’s activity there were more than 100 students involved with 23 nuns; 21 nuns participate today. 

“Everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard.  It is a voluntary program, so juniors sign up for this activity. We usually have close to 100 percent participation,” Sr. Jeanne added. 

Sr. Carolyn Coffey, RSM, ’57, a long-time participant in the program, said both parties benefit from the conversations. Some of her mentorships have lasted past high school with relationships with graduates who have careers and families now. 

“What really strikes me is how appreciative the girls are.  I have received notes from students telling me how much these efforts have helped them navigate their lives,” Sr. Carolyn said.

No other high school in the area has a program like this, and students see this as a special privilege.  They also appreciate the sage advice they often receive and the memories the Sisters share.

“The Sisters of Mercy are always so sweet and welcoming.  We talk about current events in the world and possible solutions on how to solve them,” said Maddie Rozmajzel ’20. 

“I enjoy participating in this program because I like hearing about the memories the Sisters have about Mercy.  I also just like getting to talk and learn about each other,” said Mia Shepoka ’20.

According to Sr. Jeanne, after 17 years the program continues to be a popular way to extend the Circle of Mercy.