Bay View Honors Mercy Day with Alumna Guest Speaker and Panel

Kirsten Hammann
On Tuesday, September 24, the St. Mary Academy – Bay View community came together to celebrate Mercy Day—the annual celebration of the first House of Mercy's opening, in Dublin, Ireland, in 1827. Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, devoted her life to the poor, sick and uneducated, and on this day every year, Bay View honors her legacy of caring and compassion. Bay View students are excused from classes for the day in order to come together around a select topic related to one of the Sisters of Mercy's five critical concerns—Immigration, the Earth, Racism, Women and Nonviolence. This year the theme was Mercy Cries Out for the Refugee.

"The Sisters of Mercy's commitment to immigrants comes out of our deep belief in the dignity of each human person created by God and out of more than 150 years of ministering to and with immigrants in schools, hospitals, parishes and social service centers," reads the Sisters of Mercy web page on immigration. "With our presence throughout Latin America, we witness firsthand the deepening poverty and violence that force families to flee their homes in search of economic and physical security."

The day began with a liturgy focused on immigration, with guest presider Rev. David A Costa, from St. Thomas Moore Parish, in Somerset, Massachusetts. The liturgy was followed by an educational component related to the theme. Middle and Upper School students attended a talk with guest speaker, Cindy E. Burke, Esq. '02, an immigration, international and family lawyer, and a follow-up panel discussion with four members of a family from Honduras seeking asylum in the U.S. and two members of the Burke Law Group, who accompanied and assisted Ms. Burke with her work at the Texas border.

"Coming back to Bay View made me look at my short life and realize how I have come full circle, all because of the education and support I received from Bay View in my teen years," said Ms. Burke. "I feel so proud to be an alumna, so proud of the educational experience the girls get here, and I am eternally grateful to the adults who shaped me today."

Lower School students participated in activities focused on diversity and cultural awareness, including plans for a diversity bulletin board, a sing-along and select readings from a curated collection in the Lower School library. The day concluded for the Lower School with a celebration of diversity through traditional dress, with students donning attire from their cultural and ethnic backgrounds in a showcase for their peers.