At a covenant ceremony during Mass on Saturday, May 13, 2023, Head of School Mrs. Marianne Grace and Learning Specialist Alison Kelly were officially recognized as Mercy Associates. Mercy Associates join the community “in partnership with the Sisters’ spiritual life and in their pledge of service to others and to our world.”
According to the Sisters of Mercy website, “Mercy Associates are women and men who respond to the Gospel invitation of Jesus, and the example of Catherine McAuley, to minister to God’s children who are experiencing poverty, illness, or lack of education by living out the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy.” These values are incorporated into one’s daily life and the Associate is called to share the unique mission of Mercy in their homes, workplaces, churches, and communities. While connected to the Sisters of Mercy, Associates come from many different faith traditions. They do not take vows like the Sisters of Mercy do, but work to extend the presence of Mercy through prayer, solidarity, and volunteer projects.
There are more than 3,000 Mercy Associates throughout the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines. The association process is generally about a year—occasionally meeting with other Associates and Sisters of Mercy for prayer, fellowship, support, learning about the Mercy Association, and discerning if it’s right for the individual.
In reflecting on the experience, Mrs. Grace said, “I was attracted to becoming a Mercy Associate because I want to be closer to God. Interestingly, there is a quote that says, ‘Mercy is the critical path offered by Jesus Christ for those who wish to follow him.’” Crediting her sponsor and mentor Sister Anna Saltzman, RSM, with being instrumental in her journey, Mrs. Grace added, “It was through my discussions with her that I knew the time was now and I was being called by God. Mercy is a journey and I am happy to be on it.”
During her discernment year, Ms. Kelly ’99 notes that she read a quote by Richard Rohr, OFM, which read, "When you get your 'Who am I?' question right, all of your 'What should I do?' questions take care of themselves." As a Merion Mercy Academy alumna and now as an MMA educator and parent ('25), Ms. Kelly says she “strives daily to live mercy.” She adds:
As an adult, I have found myself feeling increasingly overwhelmed, fearful, and hopeless about the world around me. At times, to seek refuge, I used my privilege as a blindfold and shield, to temporarily protect me from the discomfort I was experiencing. However, Christ, through Catherine McAuley, modeled that to truly live a life of mercy or misericordia, we cannot look away from the pain being endured by others. In contrast, we are called to fully enter it with tenderness, humility, and compassion while simultaneously, and tenaciously seeking justice. So, if I am to abide by Rohr's philosophy of finding purposeful resolutions through self-actualization, if mercy is who I want to be, then carrying the mercy charism into the future is what I should do. I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to be a Mercy Associate and look forward to joining the Sisters of Mercy in their work to educate and advocate for the greatest needs (hurts) facing our society.
Ms. Kelly’s sponsor was Sister Danielle Gagnon, RSM.
Over the years there have been several faculty and staff members at Merion Mercy who have been Associates. Currently, they include Dean of Students, Mr. Paul Clementi, and Mary Ann Danovich, Master Schedule and Data Manager.
To learn more about becoming a Mercy Associate, visit the Sisters of Mercy website.
- Merion Mercy Academy
- Sisters of Mercy