While I taught at St. Michael Indian School (SMIS), a school serving youth from the…
Staying Connected to the Mercy Community
Staying connected to the Mercy community has been really important to me. It is like a touchstone that is ever present and yet shines more brightly over and over at just the moments I need some centering, grounding, and guidance. If I am being really honest with myself, it is through my Mercy Volunteer Corps experience that I felt and saw my spiritual, service, and community life grow tremendously and I am forever grateful. I can remember stepping into my year of service unsure of what to expect from it all and, yet, years later, it remains so clear to me just how impactful and transformative those 12 months were and continue to be.
I am grateful to have had a variety of opportunities to continue to engage with the Mercy community for many years following my year of service. MVC’s integration of service, spirituality, and justice touched me in such a way that I found myself craving the intentionality of it all very quickly after my year concluded. A few short weeks after our Transition Retreat, I was a first-year graduate student in the city that introduced me to the Sisters of Mercy and thankfully was quickly able to re-connect to the Mercy community through a local not for profit, Mercy Connections. I felt pretty disconnected and overwhelmed having just stepped away from people and a place that impacted me deeply. It was a blessing to have somewhere to go where the language was familiar, I felt immediately understood, and where I, literally, had Mercy, in its truest sense, surrounding me. This first, intentional, re-connection with the Mercy community made it clear to me that staying connected was inevitable!
Over the years it has been an honor to maintain my connection through opportunities like attending college service fairs as an MVC representative and interviewing MVC applicants. Those moments always gave me space to reflect on my year and talk about the power of the Mercy community for me. I am also grateful to MVC for opportunities like an alumni service trip, alumni retreats, supporting current volunteers, and virtual workshops for alums. Each one offers/ed me important connections during times that I have found myself searching for something. I am forever grateful for the on-going moments of being invited back to feel the power of Mercy while also being reminded of the ways I live it each day and being challenged to continue to grow in it.
For the last seven years I have noticed the direct influence my ongoing connection with Mercy communities has on my work as the director of a community service program at a small Catholic College. So much of what I bring to my work is driven by what I have learned and come to intimately understand from my year of service, from specific sisters of Mercy and how they have engaged in their ministries, and from better understanding the Critical Concerns. Most recently, my personal love for MVC facilitated the growth of a program in the department I lead. It was through a virtual workshop that I learned about Mercy Ecospirituality Center and that connection allowed me to offer a Mercy led service experience to our students. I was introduced to the powerful intersection of Mercy service, justice, and spirituality through the community service office at my Mercy college and have forever been changed. Now, because of staying connected to MVC and the broader Mercy community, I am honored to be able to offer a similar introduction to students about whom I care deeply and am more than excited by the possibilities.
This year I find myself celebrating 20 years post service and what continues to be my most meaningful and important connection is my relationship with my community. The individuals who were part of my community became my family and continue to be the people who know me most intimately, love me unconditionally, and center me when the world has left me out of sorts. We talk regularly and our growing families have naturally intertwined in amazingly beautiful ways with no extra effort. I have learned what true and deep friendship looks like from these relationships and am forever grateful. I cannot imagine my world without them in it and am more grateful than I could ever express for their constant presence and love. I will end where I started and say that 20 years ago, I was not quite sure what this community would offer and 20 years later I sometimes do not have words to fully describe the connection that exists. A really exceptional experience, grounded in faith, brought us together and thankfully so much has kept us together.
Taking time to consider the ways I have stayed connected has been a lovely gift. I am not sure I realized the many places and ways the community of Mercy has continued to exist in my world, intentionally or not. Thank you MVC, for offering the glue that has brought so many pieces of my life together!
Lara Scott: Baltimore Alumna
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