Walking through the doors on the first day of high school can be extremely intimidating. Brand new faces and unfamiliar halls are frightening when you are alone. However, imagine a school that is accepting, full of life and tradition, and based on the foundation of sisterhood.
Mercy inspires each girl to be her true self by strengthening her relationships with friends, family, teachers, and especially with God. Unity comes through the bonds of Mercy that last for a lifetime. Julie Vankat, a theology teacher at Mercy, has an incredible story about how Mercy has been a part of her life. Mrs. Vankat not only is a teacher here, but she is also a mother of three former mercy girls, and a soon to be monarch.
Unity can be defined in many ways, however the best way to answer a question is through personal experience, so I asked Mrs. Vankat what unity means to her. She responded by saying that unity is, “When you have a community of people gathered together and they recognize common characteristics and celebrate that, it makes everyone feel supported.” This is exactly true within the Mercy community and what makes this school so unique. Girls of so many different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and differences come together and unite through their common Mercy experiences. This unity is shown during the school day classes, prayer services, assemblies, and much more. A Mercy girl celebrates her unity through respect towards one another and she is always there to lend a helping hand.
Unity at Mercy is not only shared within the walls of the school, but all over the world. Each Woman of Mercy takes with her a lifetime of connections all throughout her adulthood. Mrs. Vankat shares about her experiences of unity outside of Omaha Mercy. “I think when we work together on Mission Week, we experience a lot of unity, especially unity that she shared with other Mercy schools.” Mrs. Vankat explains the connection we have to other schools through Mission Week. Each year when we raise money for other countries, we work with the other schools around the world to help others based on our common foundation on the Sisters of Mercy.
Mrs. Vankat also works for “Young Neighbor’s In Action” during the summer, and she tells us that, “I always share about my Mercy experience and mission, and the most interesting thing to me is that every summer there has been some mercy connection.” Not only does being a student or teacher at Mercy provide friends, fun, and memories, it also provides lifelong connections that reappear all the time. One of the most special aspects of Mercy is the lasting friendships with students in the same grade as well as student in different grades, and even with others that have graduated long before. The connections to Mercy do not end when you walk out the building, in fact, that is only where they start.
Finally, I asked Mrs. Vankat what advice she would give to a young girl thinking about coming to Mercy. She replied by saying, “Give it her all, get to know as many different people as she can, and get involved in a couple different things.”
Mercy is a unified community that has brought me countless new friends throughout my years. Not only do I know all the names of the girls in my grade, I have also made many friends in the grades above and below me. Being involved is the key to meeting new people. And participation in Mercy activities is easy. You can play nearly any sport you enjoy, you can audition for plays, sign up for clubs, go on service trips to other countries, or even give a speech to show your qualifications for higher positions such as class officer or student council representative. All of these activities and more are what completely unify Mercy girls to doing what they love and making friends that will last a lifetime.