Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2020

Emissaries ensure Mercy spirit still animates campus

Mercyhurst joined the ranks, naming McCartney as the first vice president for mission integration and charging her to assimilate the university’s educational mission, Catholic identity, and legacy of the Sisters of Mercy. “I determined that the role of the vice president of mission would be to tend to employees,” she said. “If the employees get the mission, it is they who will pass it on through teaching and daily interactions with students.” In her first years on the job, a campus-wide survey found that most people did not think Mercyhurst’s mission could continue without the Sisters of Mercy. “Immediately, I thought that’s a perception we’ve got to change,” she said. The decision was made to establish a voluntary employee Mercy Mission training program, which would become known as the Mercy Emissary Program. Loosely modeled on the Mercy Associate program of the Sisters of Mercy, the program—which is open to employees of all faith backgrounds—consists of a series

of monthly gatherings throughout the academic year. The first semester addresses Mercy while the second focuses on Catholic higher education. The training concludes with a daylong retreat. Looking ahead to Mercyhurst’s future, change is inevitable. But McCartney is optimistic that thanks to buy-in from the university leadership, the Mercy Mission will continue to make Mercyhurst special. “The essential mission identity will protect Mercyhurst from becoming just another mid-size liberal arts college,” she said. “With a clear, vibrant mission identity, Mercyhurst can evolve while remaining distinctive, and be effectively nimble.” Epilogue: More than 150 staff and faculty members completed Mercy Emissary training during the program’s first five years. Thirty students signed up for the first student cohort last year, most completing their study from home after COVID-19 struck. The first Emissary training session for Mercyhurst alumni began this fall.

Condensed from a story by Sean Cuneo in Mercyhurst Magazine , Fall 2018

Since Sister Lisa Mary McCartney first came to Mercyhurst as a cadet student more than 50 years ago, Mercyhurst has experienced a number of milestones. The first lay college president. The move to coeducation and the first class of men. The first graduate program. McCartney’s retirement in May [2018], however, marked another important first for Mercyhurst: For the first time in the institution’s 92-year history, Mercyhurst does not have a Sister of Mercy employed full time on campus. “When I came to Mercyhurst, the president was a Sister, the dean was a Sister, Sisters worked in food service, every residence hall had at least one Sister. It was a different world,” McCartney said. With the numbers of priests and women religious declining on college campuses, faith-based institutions increasingly turn to newly established “mission officers” to safeguard their founding ideals. In 2008,

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