By Kelly Hammond
Mercy Day is a beloved tradition in the Mount community that takes place every September. While most girls are just get excited to be out of class for the day, the meaning behind Mercy Day goes much deeper. In honor of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Mount students spend this day providing service on campus and throughout the community. Students trade in their hounds tooth skirts for a pair of jeans and gloves, and travel to various sites including Susan G. Koman, Calvary Cemetery, Helping Hand, the Compassion Center, Access Schools, Allsopp Park, and more. This allows everyone to have the humbling opportunity to serve those in need and live like Catherine herself.
When I was told that I would be going to a cemetery for Mercy Day, I was honestly pretty scared. When most people hear “cemetery”, they automatically think of spooky ghosts, dark lifeless trees, and haunted graves. However, what I found on my journey was quite the opposite. The sun washed over the green, tree-filled area and illuminated the headstones of various shapes and sizes. When we first arrived, we made our way through the front of the cemetery, past graves and presents left by loved ones, towards Bella Brown. We took a moment of silence to remember her joyful and compassionate personality; a perfect reminder for us on a day focused on serving others.
We then headed to the area of the cemetery where several Sisters of Mercy were buried. It was sorrowing to see the rows and rows of disheveled and unclean headstones. Most of these graves-some of which were almost 200 years old- looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned since they were put there.
To give these headstones the proper TLC they deserve, we used sponges, brushes, and rags to gently remove the dirt and moss growing on the stones. This experience gave me a new perspective on the word “cemetery”; one that doesn’t include scary ghosts, but instead a reminder of how we can still care for those who have passed on. Even when we lose a loved one, honoring their memory by caring for their grave is just one way to continue serving them.
Other members of our newspaper staff, Breanna Racher and Raehana Anwar, told me what they learned from their Mercy Day experiences. Breanna said,
“it seemed like what we were doing was very insignificant…until two women that were there told us what we did in an hour and a half would have taken a week for them to do.”
Raehana recalls a similar feeling and says, “At first I thought cleaning up bikes couldn’t really do much to help the community, but after hearing about how excited the kids would get and how meaningful it was to them, what I was doing seemed to have more purpose. I felt like I really was impacting people’s lives, just by fixing up some bikes.” Both girls’ time at their service sites proved the big impact we can make when we come together to help others.
—Timelapse of Raehana and friends building a bike at their service site—
By Raehana Anwar