Reflection: 5 Favorite Memories with the Sisters of Mercy

Lauren Tatanus
Currently serving with Mercy Volunteer Corps at Hands on Hartford
Hartford, CT
As a second year Mercy Volunteer, I have been exposed to the Sisters of Mercy in many different facets. This year, in particular, is memorable since our community is laying the foundation for future volunteers in Hartford, CT. In order to demonstrate the love and compassion that we have received as a community, I want to list my top 5 favorite memories with the Sisters of Mercy:

5. Grocery shopping with one of the sisters each weekend

Since we rely on public transportation (usually the bus), our support staff, Sisters Lorraine and Judy, graciously organized a schedule for us to go grocery shopping once a week. During the week we contact the sister or associate listed on the calendar and arrange a time for all of us to grocery shop. This has presented us with the opportunity to meet different members of the Mercy community and to humbly accept our reliance on others for transportation.

The day that Alex, Sonia, and I arrived in Hartford, Judy and Lorraine hosted a wonderful cookout in their backyard. Before arriving at their home, we were exhausted from a day full of travel and moving into our new apartment. Our groggy moods quickly changed once we met Judy and Lorraines cocker spaniel, Shelby. This 13-year-old rescue dog exuded more energy than all 3 of us new MVCs combined! She woke us all up and entertained us at the sisters home. We always look forward to spending time at Judy and Lorraines home, especially because we get to see the always-smiling Shelby!
3. Spontaneous tea parties 
Along with having Judy and Lorraine as support staff, we also have many other sisters taking care of us. For example, Sister Beth Fischer, who works at University of St. Joseph (USJ, a local Mercy college), recently stopped over on a Friday evening to chat over a cup of tea. Both Alex and I frequently see her at our service sites when she brings nursing students to the different programs throughout Hands on Hartford, but we realized there is not much time to catch up while at work. I know I felt honored and excited to spend an evening talking with such an inspiring woman like Sr. Beth! 
It is amazing to see how interested the Sisters of Mercy are in our lives as young ministers of service in the city of Hartford. They frequently ask us how we are doing as a community, spiritually, with our service sites, and in living simply. Since Sr. Beth is connected to a college campus, she has also offered to keep us informed of events taking place at USJ. I look forward to many more shared cups of tea with other sisters as well!
2. Making our house a home
A few days before leaving for orientation was when we figured out our official housing. Keri, an MVC Community Coordinator, had magically found a recently renovated apartment not too far from the bus line that would take us right to work. With only a few days until we arrived, the sisters and associates of Mercy from all over the North East gathered up items to fill our apartment. There is a rocking chair in each bedroom as well as two in the living room.  The whole kitchen was stocked with pots, pans, utensils, and everything we would need for the year. Upon entering the apartment for the first time, we were also greeted with the sight of welcome baskets in the living room, kitchen, and each of our bedrooms with essentials for the year. Sr. Judy also kindly placed her crocheted doilies around our new home. Only in the Mercy community could this apartment come together and become a true home for all three of us.
1. Hospitality 
Hospitality seems to be an important quality when it comes to mercy. As a community we keep jokingly spelling Hartford H-E-A-R-Tford because ever since we landed in Connecticut, we were greeted with open arms by Sisters Judy and Lorraine. Following our introductions, they invited us to a cookout at their home with several other Sisters in attendance. While this could have easily been an overwhelming experience, especially after a busy day of travel, we certainly felt right at home. 
It feels as though I have about 15 aunts here in Hartford that I can turn to whenever needed. I know that my parents were appreciative of this hospitality when they visited me over Labor Day weekend. As soon as I told Judy and Lorraine about their planned trip, they invited the whole Hartford MVC community as well as my parents for a cookout. My parents were overwhelmed with gratitude at their welcome. I could tell that my parents left the dinner a lot more confident that I was in good hands with the Sisters of Mercy.
Overall, I cannot wait to see what the rest of this year has in store. We have already met several amazing people in the Circle of Mercy, but apparently there are many more who are anxiously awaiting to meet us! The best is yet to come!

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