Fr. Scott MercyWorksMercy Home bid farewell to the MercyWorks class of 2018-2019 following their year of service at the MercyWorks closing ceremony on Wednesday, June 26. Mercy Home coworkers, including Fr. Scott Donahue, family, and friends gathered for a farewell Mass, dinner, and program to celebrate and honor the 13 MercyWorkers who committed to a year of personal, professional, and spiritual growth at Mercy Home.

The evening began with a Mass in our chapel, where Fr. Scott shared his gratitude to our volunteers.

“I hope for the past year that you’ve been told enough times how appreciated you are,” Fr. Scott said. “I’m sure that came from our coworkers, I’m sure that came from community members as you gathered, but from our young people, sometimes it’s tough for them to say thank you or let you know how appreciated you are. It may have happened during the year but trust me as I say you’ve had a powerful impact on the young people entrusted to our care.”

Following Mass, the evening continued with a celebratory dinner, where honorees, guests, and coworkers enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner.

“Somewhere along the way, these strangers became a community, and then a family to one another as they threw themselves into exploring the MercyWorks program values of spirituality, community, sustainability, social justice, and professional development.”

Kevin and Katie MercyWorksMercyWorks coordinator Kevin Felisme and Director of MercyWorks and Spiritual Development Katie Keller Smith thanked all of our volunteers for giving their time, talents, and energy to our kids over the past year.

“This has been such a grace-filled year full of challenges, laughter, life lessons, and growth, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to say thank you tonight to our MercyWorkers [and] also all of you who have made their year of service awesome,” he said.

“Katie and I are often struck by what a huge leap of faith it is for our MercyWorkers to leave their families and the comfort of home to move to Chicago and to Mercy Home to do a year of service with our youth. … Somewhere along the way, these strangers became a community, and then a family to one another as they threw themselves into exploring the MercyWorks program values of spirituality, community, sustainability, social justice, and professional development. One of the biggest blessings of my work and Katie’s work is being able to walk alongside people who challenge and inspire us. It has been such an honor and privilege to witness your lives this year.”

“I had no idea how many smiles, tears, and laughs would be shared. I had no idea how strong the bond 13 strangers coming from different cities, families, and life experiences could create.”

Morgan Doyle MercyWorksKatie also discussed the hope she and Kevin have for the future of our MercyWorkers.

“Our hope for each of you is that your work this year with our resilient kids, inspiring coworkers, and the lessons you’ve learned from one another this year in community have given each of you evidence that change is possible and that a life of service can also be a life of joy, through one positive interaction or therapeutic breakthrough at a time,” she said.

“My hope and Kevin’s hope for you tonight is that this year has changed you. That it’s marked you. That it’s ruined you somehow. And that the lessons you’ve learned, the stories that you’ve heard from our kids, and the experiences that you had this year stay with you and that they force you to look at the world in a totally different way.”

One of the MercyWorkers, Morgan Doyle, then shared a reflection on her year of service and how the group of 13 strangers who moved into Mercy Home last July became a family.

“[When I moved in], I had no idea what this group would become or what they’d mean to me,” she said. “I had no idea how many smiles, tears, and laughs would be shared. I had no idea how strong the bond 13 strangers coming from different cities, families, and life experiences could create.”

She also shared how the group has striven to be present for both our kids and for each other in every moment of their year of service.

“The 13 of us have spent a year being with the youth of Mercy Home, their families, and each other,” she said.

Following Morgan’s address, managers from each department shared highlights of each MercyWorker’s past year, including their strengths, accomplishments, and all the ways they’ve had an impact on our kids.

Also in attendance and recognized at the closing ceremony was a longtime friend of the Home, Beverly Davis, also known as “Aunt Bev.” She received a special acknowledgement for her years of friendship and generosity toward the MercyWorks program. Since the program’s beginning in 2001, she has “adopted” each class of MercyWorkers and provided them with support and a sense of family.

Thank you to each and every one of our MercyWorkers for their commitment, sacrifice, and dedication over the past year. We are excited to see what the future brings for each of them!

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