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Mercy Comes Alive on Iowa Campus

October 5, 2011

By Sister Karen D.

The Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns came alive during discussions, classroom presentations and research projects throughout Mercy Mission Week at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Sister Jeanne and I, members of the Justice Team for the West Midwest Community, participated in the variety of activities that week that highlight the Mercy charism and introduce students to the Critical Concerns. The Critical Concerns are Earth, immigration, nonviolence, racism and women.

Sister Jeanne conducted two Lunch and Learn sessions during which faculty and staff explored how their work at Mt. Mercy can be informed and supported by the Critical Concerns. She also gave presentations in classes that related the Critical Concerns to health care, entrepreneurship, research methods and social justice issues, professional selling and ethics, marketing and fair trade, Mercy education and cultural anthropology and water.

I addressed the issues of immigration, globalization, Israel-Palestine and nonviolence in presentations to individual classes. I also attended several sessions of Catherine’s Tea — where tea and scones were served to students, faculty and staff — and an evening ecumenical prayer service.

Sister Marilyn Lacey spoke in her keynote address about her experiences in ministry with the women of Sudan. She also spoke to one of the classes at the University. Many faculty, staff, and students prepared for her presentations by reading and discussing her book about her work with refugees, This Flowing Toward You.

Sister Shari Sutherland, executive director for Mercy Mission and Identity at Mount Mercy and facilitator for the week’s events, noted that interest in Mercy Mission Week has grown tremendously since in was introduced last year. Faculty members were eager to have Sister Jeanne and I visit their classes.

Sister Jeanne met with one freshman class who already could name the Critical Concerns. The students have formed small groups among themselves and are researching the issues of the Critical Concerns, including their systemic causes. Prior to Sister Jeanne’s presentation, a class of nursing students had been assigned to research social justice issues in health care. Their research contributed to rich classroom conversation, with topics including persons without health insurance, palliative care issues, and how poverty impacts health status.

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