Mercy Week

Dominic Augustine, Reporter

Faculty and staff members celebrated Mercy Week Sept. 18 to 22 with activities surrounding the value of mercy.

The first night offered a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Ethics Institute, said Christine Sommers, Campus Ministry, who worked on the planning committee.

Sommers said the week featured multiple activities that honored and respected mercy.  

Mercy associates, faculty and staff met at Mercy Center for tea and scones; another day featured climate change simulations with Dr. Cindy March and students  from the sustainability committee. 

Dr. Glenn Willis, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies,  said the value of mercy has impacted his work in a positive way, both on and off campus.

“I’m so proud to work for a Mercy institution, alongside other faculty, staff and students who also care about a merciful orientation toward relationships and vocation.” 

Willis is convinced that the most challenging people in his life have been the most merciful people as well.

“We should not imagine mercy as a quality or practice that simply expresses ‘niceness'” said Willis. “Niceness isn’t necessarily kind, much less merciful.  I now look back on those coaches, teachers, professors, mentors, and bosses who challenged me to do better as precisely the people who cared the most about me.  I would not have survived my own adolescence without them.”

Willis also said that, as a Christian, he is grateful to Buddhists for showing him how compassion, in Buddhist traditions, must be connected at times to confrontation. 

“Certainly, the mercy of Christ is deeply committed to confrontation with all that is cruel and dismissive.  But confrontation without love is not merciful, either,” said Willis.

Willis also said that he would like to see more university-wide acknowledgment that people from various parts of the political spectrum care deeply about mercy, even if they may disagree about how best to achieve it.

“Much of politics is less about good versus evil, and more about competing visions of what is genuinely good and merciful,” said Willis.  “Conservatives who oppose welfare policies, for instance, are sometimes expressing an attitude of mercy, whether one agrees with them or not.”

Willis tells students a life dedicated only to competition is ultimately not a life of true excellence.

“My students often tell me how much they value competition, and the excellence that competition often produces.  I share this value, myself, in many ways, but I would say that a life dedicated only to competition, without access to deeper sources of compassion, love, and mercy, is ultimately not a life of true excellence,” said Willis.

Lauren Gorney, Assistant Director of Alumni, said people of all faiths can benefit from the mercy activities.

“They had some exciting events including drumming outside. They had an ecumenical prayer service,  that included local leaders of all faiths,” said Gorney.

Gorney said how her goal as a Mercy Associate, was tobring awareness to the Mercy Associate Program.

“Sister Cindy helped us associates design the video series to highlight the work of the Mercy Associates to get to better know who the mercy associates are on campus” said Gorney. “The need for Mercy Associates is high because as the Sisters of Mercy age, we need more people to take up the service work and to support the work of the Sisters.”