A Timeless and Eternal Circle of Mercy

Through the Years

While we don’t know the year that Mater Misericordiae Academy’s class ring was first introduced, we do know that as early as 1950, news of its arrival was printed in the Ricordia. Back then, the ring was given to seniors with a reminder of all that it stood for: 

“One who wears the ring pledges herself to cherish the school’s ideals, uphold her standards and prove worthy of her fair name.” (Class of 1955)

“A Senior looks at her gold ring and sees the Mercy shield that will remind her that her most important role in life is to give mercy. She is to be a soldier of mercy to conquer the hearts of all who meet her. Behind the shield, the Blessed Mother rests as an image for her to imitate in every way.” (Class of 1963)

According to the Meriannal, in 1955, each ring was tied to a blue and gold ribbon. All the ribbon ends were placed in the hand of the Child Jesus in the Madonna statue at the main entrance. As Sister Gertrude Marie read the name on a ribbon, that senior came forward to have her class ring placed on the fourth finger of her right hand. “Throughout the day, the seniors were besieged by underclassmen who claimed the privilege of turning the new rings and making a wish.” The class year dictated the number of turns required. 

In 1961, a new tradition began with a Ring Dinner on the day of the Maternity of Our Lady in October, which was chosen so that “Mary could bless the seniors throughout their lives.” Records show that the ring was also slightly changed that year. “The familiar blue stone with the school shield remains, but the words Mater Misericordiae Academy were inscribed around the stone.”

At some point in the decades that followed, the Blessing of the Rings became an occasion for Merion Mercy juniors with Mass and a ceremony held in the spring. The tradition of turning the rings called for three wishes: one for the person turning the ring, one for the classmate wearing the ring, and one wish for our school. 

2023’s Junior Retreat and Ring Night

In her remarks at 2023’s Junior Retreat on the morning of Ring Night, Sally McGovern ‘89, assistant to Counseling and Summer Programs, recalled as a Merion Mercy student feeling part of something bigger than herself. She told the girls:

“You are a part of something we call sisterhood. Sometimes that word is hard to understand or feel, but what it means is that you are an integral part of a community that celebrates each and every one of its members and whose members support and build each other up. The sisterhood works together for good, and for helping each of you to be your best self. This sisterhood unites us when times are difficult and creates time for celebration when times are good. I have seen this throughout my life on many occasions. To this day, the friends that I made at Merion are my go to people.”

Also sharing remarks at the Junior Retreat was Tasia Brice ‘24 who spoke of the many women in her life. As the oldest of four girls, she “appreciated the nurturing environment and is grateful to be raised looking up to these women.” At Merion Mercy, she has found a sisterhood that  provides that same type of joy and support:

“This sisterhood means so much to me because it was chosen. We chose each other. We love each other so much that we cherish the days we have together at Merion and are excited to watch each other grow into young women…After graduating we will always be reminded that we have sisters who love us all across the world and can look down at our ring fingers to remember this connection.”

During the Ring Mass, Emily Oliver ‘24 shared a reflection in which she recalled the mystery of the Circle of Mercy, which she now understands more fully:

“My many years of wondering have come to an end because the Circle of Mercy isn’t a ‘what,’ it’s a ‘who.’ And we are the who. We created our very own Circle of Mercy, united by our sisterhood and the unique experiences we all share together…In the Circle of Mercy we have become the people we are today and the sisters who will leave Merion and change our world in many unique ways, united forever.” 

The Ring Mass ceremony concluded with this blessing: 

These class rings symbolize the connection each student has to the Merion Mercy Academy sisterhood, and the commitment to living Mercy and seeking justice that the class of 2024 has cultivated.

Senior Reflections on Ring Mass

In recalling favorite memories, this year’s graduating seniors frequently referenced Ring Mass:

“When I got my class ring, it made me feel like I was finally fully into the sisterhood. I loved getting to celebrate it with all of my friends. It has been one of my favorite memories over my last 4 years.” —Grace Siorek ‘23

“One of my favorite memories at Merion is ring mass junior year. It was such a special moment shared with my class that I will always look back on fondly. Everyday I wear my ring, I am reminded of my favorite people and memories at Merion.” —Isabella Hennessey-Velazco ‘23

“The junior retreat was such an amazing experience and time to bond with my classmates before formally entering the sisterhood.”—Simone Neal ‘23

“One of my most memorable times at Merion was the Junior Retreat on the day of Ring Mass. It was a special experience to be able to connect with my peers before getting our class ring. I’ll always cherish the bonds I’ve created with my forever friends.” —Diana Vu ‘23

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