Merion Mercy Academy and the Building Blocks of a Mercy Culture

Merion Mercy Academy and the Building Blocks of a Mercy Culture

Merion Mercy Academy is sponsored by the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, and a member school of Mercy Education System of the Americas. Our mission, tradition, core values and critical concerns are grounded in the Mercy charism. The Mercy charism is a lens on the Gospel and a way of enacting God’s mission inspired by Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. First and foremost, our school is authentically Catholic and focused on living out the values and teachings of the Gospel.

According to Richard Lennan, systematic theologian in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College, the core criteria of a Gospel-centered Catholic identity are:

  1. Identity centered on God—open to conversion to the God who is always greater 

  2. Christian—drawing on God’s self-communication in Jesus 

  3. Spiritual—depending on and discerning the presence of the Holy Spirit

In these first three criteria, we see the Trinity. At the heart of Christian revelation, God is not seen as a distant, static monarch but a divine circle dance, as the early Fathers of the church dared to call it (in Greek perichoresis, the origin of our word choreography). God is the Holy One present in the dynamic and loving action of Three.

The other criteria of Catholic identity:

  1. Receptive to “the other”—in personal, social, cultural, and spiritual ways. 

  2. Oriented to mission—at the service of God’s mission in the world— for us this is the mission of education for young women.

  3. Openness and inclusion—modeling inclusion over exclusion, the willingness to risk and be open to dialog. 

Sister Danielle Gagnon, RSM, Merion Mercy’s Assistant Head of School for Mission Integration, pauses at “being open to dialog.” She says, “This has been lost to us in the past 20 years. If there is any aspect of Lennan’s criteria that I personally think is most important for us as a Catholic community, it’s this openness to dialog and teaching our students how to take that risk in the tradition of mercy.”

In addition to the foundational elements of Catholic identity, Catherine McAuley presents us with an authentically Mercy face of God’s mission: 

  • A commitment to people who are vulnerable and marginalized—not only in our world at large, but in our own community; 
  • The courage to oppose structural injustice;
  • A recognition of the God-presence in all people;
  • The capacity to embrace change.

As Merion Mercy Academy embraces its Mercy culture, we strive to ensure that foundational principles, values, and charism are evident in the everyday life and activities of our community. We invite you to join us in this endeavor!

Source: Be as Shining Lamps: Preserving, Nurturing, Reimagining the Mercy Charism by Caroline Thompson