On Feb. 11, 1858, four Sisters of Mercy joined Bishop John Timon, first bishop of Buffalo, on a journey from Rochester to St. Bridget Parish in the old First Ward of Buffalo. On Feb. 10, the Sisters of Mercy celebrated the 160th anniversary of their arrival, gathering at Mercy Center in Buffalo to share this special time with each other, associates, co-workers and friends of the community.
Msgr. David Lee and Father Fred Betti, SJ, concelebrated the liturgy where special readings commemorated the occasion. In the second reading, the words of Sisters of Mercy foundress Catherine McAuley reminded the sisters that the exhortation of Jesus to "Love one another as I have loved you," should be engraved on our inner-most soul and shown forth in our conduct. "Let charity then be our badge of honor, our highest glory," she said.
A special moment came when the Sisters sang the Suscipe of Catherine McAuley. Sister Diane Swanson, local leader in Buffalo, said, "The word suscipe means giving of one's self to God." It is a special prayer of the Sisters of Mercy sung often when they gather.
Following the suscipe, the sisters turned to face the congregation and offered a sung blessing for all present in gratitude and appreciation for the love and support given to the sisters by all who share the Mercy mission including Mercy Associates, benefactors, friends and colleagues in ministry.
"Such blessings are as numerous as the sands of the sea shore. How wonderful that we are together to celebrate this sacred time," said Sister Diane in her opening welcome.
On the anniversary of the actual arrival, Sunday, Feb. 11, the sisters gathered in the Mercy Center Heritage Room to share their history and stories. Several sisters, some over 90 years of age, recounted their experience when they entered the community approximately 75 years ago. All the sisters shared memories of the sisters who influenced them and impacted their lives. The conversation and sharing continued during brunch together.
The Sisters of Mercy have ministered primarily in the areas of education and health care in Western New York, establishing ministries that include Mount Mercy Academy, Trocaire College, Mercy Hospital and Kenmore Mercy Hospital as well as staffing many elementary schools in the diocese.
Sister Nancy Hoff, coordinator of the Sisters of Mercy, Community New York-Pennsylvania West, said, "The Sisters of Mercy would not be where we are today without the sisters who have gone before us and our lay colleagues who today steward our ministries in such a way that they remain faithful to our mission to care for those in need of compassion and mercy. That's what we want to celebrate today."