SXU celebrates heritage with Mercy Day

(Right) Saint Xavier student William Sheppard, president of the Student Organization for Veteran Affairs, ringing the Academy Bell with Director of Campus Ministry Esther Sanborn during Saint Xavier University’s Leadership Commissioning ceremony during the 2009 Mercy Day celebration. The Ceremony honored members of the University community who will serve in leadership roles this year.

Saint Xavier University celebrated its heritage and core value of service this week with Mercy Day, an observance honoring the Sisters of Mercy who founded and sponsored the University as well as marking the beginning of Mercy-imbued education in Ireland on Sept. 24, 1827.

The Chicago campus’ celebration took place on Sept. 24 and included the dedication of the 49th Street Gateway Arch, named in honor of Saint Xavier’s old campus at 49th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue. Several of Saint Xavier’s “Golden Grads,” women who remember the original arch on the Cottage Grove campus, attended the ceremony.

All were encouraged to participate in the commissioning of leaders from all segments of the University community. At the Academy Bell near the University’s main entrance, representatives of the Sisters of Mercy, trustees, administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni were commissioned and blessed for their service of leadership during the coming year.

Earlier in the day, student stories and photos from last spring’s International Mercy Service Trip to Belize were exhibited in the SXU Diner.

Students, staff and faculty prayed for the continuing vibrancy of the University’s Mercy legacy of education and faith at a Mercy Day liturgy in McDonough Chapel. Public Safety Coordinator and recently ordained Roman Catholic Deacon Robert Landuyt offered a Mercy Day reflection. The Orland Park campus also held a prayer service.

Saint Xavier’s Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates held a “Meet the Women of Mercy” luncheon to discuss their commitments to Mercy and to the University.

The day concluded with a lecture from author and poet Bishop Robert F. Morneau, who spoke as part of Saint Xavier’s Catholic Colloquium lecture series. Morneau discussed “Hungers of the Human Heart: A Catholic Poetic Perspective,” which addressed human longings for meaning, intimacy and commitment.

Mercy Day celebrates the opening of the first House of Mercy in Ireland on Sept. 24, 1827, marking the beginning of Mercy service to people who are poor, sick or uneducated. Each Mercy Day, Saint Xavier University joins Mercy-inspired institutions around the world to recall its Mercy heritage and renew its commitment to such core values as respect, integrity and service.