My experiences with Mercy Volunteer Corps in Guyana, ’11-’12, transformed my heart and irreversibly changed my life. It affirmed values that I held close to my heart and clarified my discernment of my vocation. As a volunteer, I taught at Bosco Academy, a primary school attached to St. John Bosco Orphanage, home to about fifty boys between the ages of four and sixteen. The boys I encountered taught me so much about love of neighbor, patience, and forgiveness. Every day, they were so eager to share their love by presenting gifts and treasures from nature (sometimes beautiful flowers and sometimes not so beautiful snakes or insects), offering their sweets, sharing their smiles and laughter, and continuously inviting me to join their games or movie nights. I was always so mystified by their ability to love so freely when in the reality of their lives, they had been rejected by parents, families, and systems so many times. It challenged and stretched my personal call to accept and in return give this merciful love to others. My encounters with the Bosco boys, in addition to learning to live and minister in the different ways of speaking and doing things in another culture, collectively drew me to a moment of realizing that I was falling in love with loving God.
Through my experiences of ministry and community as a Mercy Volunteer, I deepened a yearning to serve with persons on the margins of society, a yearning to live in, learn from, and love a diverse community, and a yearning to grow in my relationship with our God of Creation and Mercy. Interacting with the Sisters of Mercy in Guyana, and the experience of physically living in one of their communities during my second year as a volunteer, developed a desire within me to grow in Mercy spirituality – one that was both contemplative and also very active in the needs of the world today. These experiences led me to discern a calling with the Sisters of Mercy, where I now find myself as a Candidate in ongoing discernment. A large part of my discernment has been the freedom to enter the Sisters of Mercy through CCASA (Caribbean, Central and South America) versus the U.S., feeling a strong inner desire to live the values of Mercy in a more diverse community and to practice simplicity in a more intentional way. When I reflect on my journey to Mercy today, I cannot help but wonder with gratitude how different my life might look like if I had never dared those first formational, transforming experiences as a Mercy Volunteer.
Meg Eckart ’11 12 Guyana, South America