Easter Celebrations Return to Mercy Home
Easter Mass with Cardinal Blase Cupich
The celebration of Easter recognizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and, for believers, this is the hope of salvation in the midst of dark times. And after the pandemic kept so many apart over the last two Easters, it was especially gratifying for our young people and coworkers to come together this year to celebrate through reflection and enjoying a meal together at both our boys and girls homes.
Celebrating rituals and holidays is critically important for anyone. That’s why we’re grateful to our donors who provide Mercy Home with the resources we need to give our kids opportunities to enjoy familiar holiday customs that give them the comfort and strength they need to heal and grow.
Five minutes before dinner, our coworkers added the final touches to the festive scene in our West Loop Campus cafeteria by placing colorful cookies and sparkling cider on each linen-lined table as the evening’s special guests made their way downstairs. Our young men then gathered at the beautifully decorated tables to share a delicious meal of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, and green peas, as well as laughs and community.
Fr. Scott joined our boys to give an Easter message and spoke about his gratefulness for Jesus’s sacrifice, and how this ultimate display of love is a hope-filled reminder for us all.
“The invitation through Holy Thursday and Good Friday, … invites us to look at the cross,” he said. “And when we feel the most hopeless or abandoned, the invitation is to look to the cross. Because he is right there with us.”
Honoring Ukraine In Dark Times
Marc Velasquez, Mercy Home’s Director of Spiritual Development, then showed our young people a video about the Catholic Church’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people and prayers for the unspeakable tragedies taking place in their country. A moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” emphasized the emotional toll the war has taken on Ukrainians.
Velasquez offered a challenge for our youth—to consider raising and donating money for our Ukrainian friends in need. Kids received donation boxes decorated in blue and yellow to assist in their efforts, which Velasquez hopes will encourage them reflect on their own blessings while supporting an urgent cause.
The invitation through Holy Thursday and Good Friday, … invites us to look at the cross. And when we feel the most hopeless or abandoned, the invitation is to look to the cross. Because he is right there with us.
– Fr. Scott Donahue
“When we do our spiritual celebrations, I like to think about what’s important for our young people to know,” Velasquez says, “so they can understand how that plays into their day to lives.”
Velasquez feels that the recent calamities in the Ukraine were unignorable even as—or especially as—our minds turn to the celebration of Easter. “We look for grace during Easter, and we also want to be grace for other people in the world.”
There was little hesitation for our young people to step up for others in that moment. Velasquez recalls how one youth pulled out his wallet and put money directly into the donation box. “So, it’s clear that they’re thinking about it and understand the challenge we propose,” Velasquez said.
Fill A Heart 4 Kids presents an Easter Gift
The night ended with the boys receiving Easter baskets generously provided by our friends at Fill a Heart 4 Kids. Fill a Heart 4 Kids is a Chicago-born nonprofit dedicated to providing positive experiences and educational resources to children with substantially difficult life circumstances.
The following day at our Walsh Campus, Fr. Scott addressed our young ladies and coworkers with a reflection on Easter and how, despite the troubles we face, we have the ability to make a difference.
“Life is difficult … Why is there so much difficulty in our world?” he said. “Why is there so much grief and so much pain and suffering? We ask why.
“Those who believe in a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of forgiveness, we’re called to make a difference in the world. As we celebrate [Easter], be grateful for what you have in each other and forgive all of the silly differences we have to direct our energy in positive ways, to make a difference. That’s what we’re called to do.”
Following Fr. Scott’s remarks, much like the day before, Velasquez again encouraged the girls to donate and raise money for those in need in Ukraine.
Easter Fun at Walsh Campus
The girls then continued the celebrations by going to the Home’s backyard for another special tradition: the Easter egg hunt. Coworkers filled the lawn with dozens of colorful eggs packed with candy. Our kids had a great time running around collecting as many eggs as they could. Six of our girls were especially lucky—they found golden eggs that they were allowed to trade in for a store gift card.
As we celebrate [Easter], be grateful for what you have in each other and forgive all of the silly differences we have to direct our energy in positive ways, to make a difference. That’s what we’re called to do.
– Fr. Scott Donahue
Everyone then returned indoors, where they received Easter baskets and enjoyed a delicious dinner of ham, potatoes, corn, rolls, and French silk pie. It was a great time of community and an opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have, even in times of hardships.
Spring is a season of new beginnings, and Easter is the celebration of hope. At this year’s Easter celebration, we were blessed to see community and friendship breathe new life in our Home.
Reflecting on the importance of the Easter tradition at Mercy Home, Fr. Scott maintains that “During Easter, we look to the cross and we know that death and suffering, grief and senselessness, don’t have the last word. Love has the last word. Hope has the last word.