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Responding “Yes” to the call of Mercy can be a powerful force

March 14, 2013

By Claudia G., Mercy Associate


Becoming a Mercy associate is a summons to a great call by Catherine McAuley. It is a living power of witness and language that captures my soul like a strong current that is always there, even on the most tragic day of my life.

Thirteen years ago, as I was on track to become a Mercy associate, my 26-year-old only son Paul was hit by a drunk driver. Paul was declared brain dead and died days later in the hospital when we took him off of life support. Sister Lee, a Sister of Mercy who has been my friend since childhood, was with my family at the hospital when I signed the consent form to donate my son’s organs, a choice that has changed my life.

In those early days, I was stunned, full of sorrow, and sometimes angry that my only son Paul, a dynamic and natural leader full of charisma and a generous spirit, was gone. But I made the decision to continue in Mercy. At first, I could only whisper the word “yes,” but I have continued saying “yes” louder and louder and it has brought amazing things. Every day since Paul has been gone, there has been an energy, a pull that unfolds and gathers the “fire within” in Mercy commitment, possibilities, work, acts and spirit.

Paul’s life was transformed through the gift of organ donation; he helped 12 people live longer and fuller lives, including two burn victims and a man who was able to meet and play with his grandchildren thanks to a heart transplant. I have stood next to that man and heard Paul’s heart beating in his chest, a miracle that compels me each day in a circle of connection, advocacy work and compassion.

It has been a difficult road, but just as Catherine always stayed centered in God and the spirit of her conviction, I try to carry that torch ahead as a Mercy associate by giving purpose to my son’s life and advocating for organ donation. I now work with Donate Life, MADD, the New York Organ Donor Network Advisory Council, and I have written a song called The Gifts of Life and Love© that has been performed at donor and transplant events in places such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Mercy First, a Mercy ministry for neglected and abused children in Syosset, NY that Paul supported during his life, has named one of their cottages after Paul.

I think of Paul all of the time, especially in April—he was born on Good Friday—and April is also Donate Life month throughout the United States.   But he lives on now through others and through the ripple effect of the word “Yes.”

PHOTO: Claudia at a NY Yankees baseball game where she and two others from MercyFirst were recognized, and her song, The Gifts of Life and Love©, was aired.

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