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home : opinion : perspectives

2/18/2016 9:00:00 AM
YOUNG ADULT PERSPECTIVE
Younger generations must show mercy
BY BREANNE BEARD


(Editor's note: Ms. Beard is a junior at Siena College in Loudonville.)

On Feb. 8, Kerry Weber presented at Siena College as part of the annual St. Clare leadership series, "Ours to Do: Women Leading the Way."

A Mercy Associate, managing editor of America magazine and a 2015 Christopher Award winner, Ms. Weber published a book titled, "Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job," about trying to perform the seven Corporal Works of Mercy in 40 days.

In her lecture, she focused on what it means to do merciful acts through God. The passion for mercy that I observed in her was something that I have never witnessed before. Mercy was happening during her speech, and it connected all of us in attendance.

During the lecture, I sat with a group of women who were part of Circles of Mercy in Rensselaer, a charity sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy that helps local people in need. Even though there was a gap between us, I felt connected to them through the lessons of mercy about which Ms. Weber spoke.

The speaker believes that, by including others in our acts of mercy, we could unite as a community of people. She stated: "Invitation is at the key of mercy; it lets people know they are not alone. Offering that invitation is so key to what mercy is about: We are all in this together."

I was moved by the power in her message. Involving others in acts of mercy opens people to the idea that everyone can do merciful acts as part of a community, rather than as individuals. I saw a strong connection between the work that the Siena community does and this message.

Ms. Weber also spoke about her trip to Rwanda during the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, which took place in 1994. She took part in the journey in order to help the people with healing, reconciliation and forgiveness, and to find the mercy they needed.

She told the story of Fedele and Esperance, respectively a perpetrator and a survivor of the genocide. Esperance showed mercy through the act of forgiveness toward Fedele, who had killed her husband.

"Their lives were inextricably bound together in a way that neither would have ever chosen, but in a way that really had changed both of them," Ms. Weber said.

The speaker's trip to see a statue of the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McCauley, was an inspiring story. Ms. Weber recounted placing her hand on the statue and feeling a strong connection with all of the people who had come in between, before and after her -- "all of the people [who] are participating in the chain of mercy, those who go back beyond Catherine McCauley, all the way to Christ, the chain that allows us to be bound together."

Just hearing those words, I felt a connection with the women sitting beside me. One of the sisters said afterward, "It's just great to hear that there are young people who are this committed. I think it's just wonderful, and I am very grateful."

It is my personal goal to do merciful acts every day. They can even be as small as just listening to someone I know is in need. I want the Sisters of Mercy to remain proud of the younger generations' commitment to mercy.

Pope Francis says, "A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just." My mission is to do exactly that. For generations to come, I hope we can all do acts of mercy.





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