Over the 5 days of Orientation Retreat, I had the pleasure of acquainting myself with the 43 Mercy Volunteers who will serve in 11 cities across the United States and Guyana. Put another way, I spent 5 days getting to know 43 of the best people I have ever met in my entire life.
I cannot express in words the welcoming atmosphere fostered by both volunteers and staff during orientation. Even though the 43 of us now live in 11 different communities, after spending almost a week with everyone, we all belong to a part of a much larger community of volunteers. That makes me even more excited for my work at my service site, St. Boniface!
Some simple details about the week: Orientation week mostly consisted of presentations detailing the 4 tenets of MVC: Service and Social Justice, Spirituality, Simple Living, and Community. This week also detailed the 5 Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy: Women, Earth, Immigration, Racism, and Nonviolence. We sat in communal prayer every day and we engaged in conversation with our community members.
Honestly, before orientation, I had very little idea of what this year would look like. This week truly expressed to me the expectations of the program and the support that the program offers. It also reaffirmed that the values of Mercy Volunteers Corps and the Sisters of Mercy mirror my own values. I truly believe in the work done here and I am honored to be a part of it.
Most importantly, I developed a relationship with my Cincinnati community members, who are shown in the picture above. From left to right are Mary, Mo, Jen, and Esther (myself). It is not possible for me to overstate how grateful I am that the 4 of us will live together over the next year. I feel as though I have been granted a great gift to form a community with such generous, kind, and supportive women. It is surprising to me how strong of a connection we have formed with each other over such a short period of time.
This is the first time that I have lived in a community of women who help raise each other up and I can honestly say that I have never felt more at home. I am excited to see the transformation I go through while surrounded by this amazing community!