Being Chased by Catherine
By Julie V., Theology Teacher, Mercy High School – Omaha
I have just figured out that someone has been chasing me for years and she seems to be after my life. The Culprit: Mary Catherine McAuley. This revelation hit me last summer as I was asked to help with a service camp. Leaving my family for a week seemed like such a hardship, so I was honestly not looking forward to the work. On our first day of service we walked into a homeless shelter in downtown Omaha. The first announcement was that this house was going to be renamed after a great champion of the poor, especially women and children. Of course they were talking about Mother McAuley and I was stunned. What were the chances of this? In my amazement I started to realize that throughout my life I have been guided to this place, in this time. This had little to do with my own choices and decisions. I felt her presence in this place and her mission moved me to do the work of this week. Knowing I was working in “Catherine’s house” changed the whole focus of my week. Helping her continue to do her work motivated me.
Looking back over my life it is easy to see how I ended up here at Mercy High School. I attended Holy Cross Elementary School, which is right across the street from Mercy High. Secondly I say this because my mother attended Mercy High and as I was growing up; she spoke often of this wonderful place, with pride about the great education she received. It was her great hope that I would also attend and become a “Mercy Girl.” After graduating from college and working for a couple of years at a co-ed Catholic school, the door opened for me at Mercy High. As I found my way into my new environment I was unsure about this new move, but after my first Mercy Day I was hooked. I cannot imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else. The mission of Catherine McAuley inspires me daily and there is passion in my heart to educate young women, while attempting to further the mission of this woman and her order of devoted sisters. It looks like my mother got her way and I am now a “Mercy Girl.”
Through my years at Mercy I have had the opportunity to go into many of “Catherine’s houses.” I have visited her in Little Rock, Arkansas; In St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago, Illinois and I have served her people in a homeless shelter in Omaha. Twice I have stepped foot on the ground in which she walked at the Mercy International Centre in Dublin, Ireland. I have stood beside her grave and sang the suscipe with over 50 Mercy Girls. Every experience has fueled my call to continue this work.
Every morning I leave my five children and come to Mercy High School. People ask me, “How do you do this?” In my heart I always want to say, “How can I not do this?” “How can I not answer this call?” It is an honor and a privilege to come to this home away from home every day and join in the work that has touched millions. I also want to explain to them that there is this woman chasing me and she won’t let me go.