Walking (and Dancing) with Mercy
By Brittney T., student
Mercy High School, San Francisco
The Sisters of Mercy distinguished themselves from other orders with their dedication to “walking” in solidarity with those who suffer and their mission of serving the poor, sick, and uneducated. And though I do not have R.S.M. attached to my name, being a student at a Mercy school, the legacy of the early “walking” nuns has had a profound influence on me.
When I learn about the values of compassion, respect, and service, I fittingly learn about them in the context of real life issues. Mercy High never tries to shelter their students and instead encourages a curiosity and hunger for knowing and serving the suffering in our community. And this active learning can best be embodied in our school’s V-Day assembly.
V-Day, a movement started by Eve Ensler for February 14th, is not a call for the cupid and heart decorations of Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s a day to “stop the violence” and a call to bring awareness of the horrible violence experienced by women all over the world–rape, trafficking, domestic violence, etc. Mercy High School, San Francisco has been celebrating V-Day since 2006. We have learned about real, important issues concerning the oppression of women, the social injustices that plague today’s world, and getting involved in combating the oppression and injustice.
Before coming to Mercy High, I was incredibly ignorant of issues such as trafficking, domestic violence and rape. They happened, but not in front of me and thus did not take up much space in my thoughts. Ignorance had bred a sense of isolation within me; suffering was splattered on the front page of the news but it didn’t seem to penetrate my mind and thus my heart didn’t always necessarily extend as far as I would have liked. However, thanks to assemblies like V-Day and other social issues education, I am no longer ignorant. And this new connection has revealed to me a calling to do some “walking” of my own and I hope the path I walk leads me to a future in social service, whether it’s at a shelter for abused women, a foster home, or maybe even an all-girls school. And if I am ever so lucky to find myself in a position to help decrease the suffering that days like V-Day teach me about, I hope to do so with the same mercy embodied by those that came before me.
Just as Catherine McAuley and those early Sisters of Mercy first pushed boundaries in serving their community and also in connecting to those who others ignored, Mercy High is continuing that legacy, that push, that invitation of connection. In the context of faith, if there’s one thing these models and my school teaches me, it’s that faith is not a retreat inward, but instead an extension outward. It’s about “walking” in solidarity and service, not staying stuck in isolation. And with each V-Day, there’s a fresh recognition of our identity as Sisters of Mercy, R.S.M. not required.
Caption: Mercy High School, San Francisco students dance the ‘One Billion Rising’ dance during their V-Day assembly on February 14 to call attention to violence against women.