Traditions remain in the hearts of Mercy Girls during their time here and decades later. From the excitement of the beginning of the year with Greenies & Welcome Week, to the revered Mercy Day and secretive PA, to the bittersweet ending of Farewell Day & May Crowning, our unique traditions unite the community of Mercy High School. The traditions are unexplainable until students experience them firsthand, but the memories are unforgettable with each year full of endearing events that are passed on to the next Mercy generation.
Traditions at Mercy
Before incoming freshman students arrive at Mercy, they are assigned to a Big Sister in the Senior class. Big and Little Sisters attend several activities together throughout the year and the Big Sister is a mentor for anything her Little Sister needs. Big Sisters also decorate their Little Sister’s locker and greenie, as well as do other special surprises during the year.
Every other spring, students participate in Day of Discovery. On this day, teachers plan different adventures for groups of students to experience instead of attending school. Students sign up for the trips that they are most interested in and Student Council places them through a lottery. Trips in the past have included:
- Kansas City Tour of the Harry Truman Presidential Library & Museum, as well as the renowned National World War I Museum o
- Acrylic Painting with a Professional Artist at Hot Shops Art Center
- Denver Tour of Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, and the Museum of Nature & Science
- Escape room at the House of Conundrum, followed by lunch and Olly the Trolley tour of the Old Market
- Old Market Walking Food Tour & Durham Museum
- Fishing at a teacher’s family farm in Uylsses, Nebraska
- Discover the mystery at Fontenelle Forrest
- Attending productions at the Orpheum Theatre
- Gourmet Cooking and Cineclub
- Motors and Montez...Learn about the auto industry at Charlie Graham followed by touring the radio business from Montez at 96.1 KISS FM.
- Media Morning at the Omaha World-Herald, tour of the World-Herald's Freedom Center at press time and a visit to WOWT during a live broadcast.
- Learn how to climb at Approach Climbing Gym, followed by scuba diving lessons at DiVentures.
- Visit a dairy farm and tour the Ice Cream Capital of the World at the Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor in LeMars, Iowa
Farewell Day is one of the last traditions celebrated during the school year. It takes place once Seniors are finished with their final exams. The entire school gathers in Franey Hall to watch the Seniors perform their final play, based on their years at Mercy. They also “will” off certain memorable items to other younger students and members of the faculty. A prayer service is held in the afternoon as the entire school says good-bye to the Seniors.
Every freshman student at Mercy High School receives a green hat when she first arrives, indicating that she is a new student and also introducing her to Mercy’s Irish heritage. If her Big Sister catches her not wearing it, she takes it and then decorates it any way that she wants. On the Friday of Welcome Week, we have a greenie parade where all the Little Sisters show off their newly decorated greenies. The winner is then voted on by the entire school.
At the beginning of May, we celebrate May Crowning at Mercy High School. A special ceremony is held in our building to honor Mary, the Virgin Mother. The entire school dresses up and each class selects two representatives to be on May Court. A senior is also chosen to be the May Queen, another extraordinary honor, and she personally crowns the statue of Mary. This ceremony marks the approaching end to the school year and all Seniors wear their caps and gowns.
Every year on September 24 we celebrate Mercy Day.This is the anniversary of the day that Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy. All of the Mercy schools throughout the world and the Sisters of Mercy celebrate this special day.
The students at Mercy celebrate this day with an all-school Mass, followed by a play performed by the senior class. During the play, the seniors tell the story of Catherine McAuley and select a class member, or members, that they believe best represents the qualities of Catherine.
This play marks the first occasion that the seniors are leaders of the school. After the play concludes, the senior students and faculty members celebrate at a luncheon. Later that afternoon, the seniors visit with and sign to the Sisters of Mercy at the Mercy Villa.
Drive past Mercy High School once classes are out, and more than likely you’ll hear several Mercy girls saying good-bye to each other with the Mercy Honk. To the tune, “Come out, come out, wherever you are, Mercy girls are in the car”, this tradition has been celebrated for decades. It is used most often when picking up fellow Mercy girls, heard in neighborhoods all throughout the Omaha area.
During Mission Week in the spring, Mercy High School has several activities in order to raise funds and awareness of an international social justice issue. Together with other Mercy schools around the United States, we previously raised $14,000 to build a school in Zambia. This year, our goal was even higher to help build mud huts in Nigeria, thus ensuring an address and place to live for students, so they can attend school. Mercy High School in Omaha surpassed our individual goal to raise over $16,000 thanks to the efforts and promotion of Student Council and the support of Mercy Girls, faculty, staff, administration, friends of Mercy and the Omaha community.
Activities during the week include a prayer service, dance, SIESTA, and Dodgeball. At the end of the week, our entire school gathers to see if they have met their goal. Every year, we have exceeded our goal! In addition to raising money to support a very worthy cause, Mission Week provides a great way to connect with other Mercy schools to continue Catherine McAuley’s mission of service to the poor and women around the world.
Ever year, the Juniors plan Prom for the Seniors. They spend all year keeping the theme, location, date, etc. a big secret. The Juniors announce everything about Prom by performing a musical or play (called PA) in the spring that is a big surprise to everyone in the school. Once PA is over, the Juniors and Seniors get out of school early to begin shopping for the perfect Prom dress.
Previous PA performances have included Willy Wonka, Hocus Pocus, The Sandlot, Tangled, Toy Story, Wizard of Oz, Hair Spray, Newsies, Annie and Grease
Spirit Week occurs the week before Nocturne, Mercy’s Homecoming Dance, during the month of November. During Spirit Week, there is a different theme for each day, and the Mercy girls dress the part! There are also pep rallies and many other events during Spirit Week for students to show their monarch spirit. Nocturne is held that following Saturday in Franey Hall for Sophomore, Junior and Senior students.
The word “suscipe” has many meanings amongst our Mercy community. Mercy’s founder, Mother Catherine McAuley has a prayer entitled “The Suscipe of Catherine McAuley” that is both spoken and sung many times throughout the year.
“My God, I am yours for time and eternity. Teach me to cast myself entirely into the arms of your loving providence, with the most lively, unlimited confidence in your compassionate, tender pity. Grant me, O most merciful Redeemer, that whatever you ordain or permit may be acceptable to me. Take from my heart all painful anxiety; suffer nothing to sadden me but sin, nothing to delight me but the hope of coming to the possession of you, my God and my all, in your everlasting kingdom. Amen.”
At our Mercy High School in Omaha, we have also adopted Mother McAuley’s term “suscipe” to have another special meaning to our community. Here, the word SUSCIPE also stands for Sustaining Us Spiritually as Community In Prayer and Eucharist. We have a SUSCIPE event at Mercy several times a month, mostly as all-school liturgies, but also as prayer services, reconciliation, assemblies, service fairs and other events. The SUSCIPE events are planned by the students in our Pastoral Council club and are attended by all the students and faculty in our beautiful chapel. We are so blessed to have priests and other religious persons from all over the Omaha area come celebrate these events with our community.
A long-standing tradition, we welcome the Mercy Girls back to school with an all-school liturgy in our chapel after the first full week of school. Following the Greenie Parade, the Mercy Girls and faculty head to a park to spend the whole day outside. At the park, there are lots of games organized by Student Council, picnics, socializing and meeting our newest class of Mercy freshman. The Seniors always challenge the faculty to a flag football game, and somehow the faculty remain undefeated every year!