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Religious Life

The Art of Mercy takes many forms

NCR Staff

The Art of Mercy takes many forms.

Sr. Celeste Marie Nuttman in Burlingame, Calif., created the icon for the New Jersey region of the Sisters of Mercy. In Detroit, Sr. Cheryl M. Phillips has taken on tasks ranging from directing an art project in a neighborhood youth center for troubled children or those needing shelter to performing art therapy ministry in a chemical dependency unit.

Among the many artists in the Mercys, Sr. Renee Yamm in Merion Station, Pa., does poetry and mime, and Sr. Estelle Martin in Rochester, N.Y., is a graphic artist. Sr. Mary Fahy in West Hartford, Conn., is known for her book, The Tree That Survived the Winter. Sr. Jeanette Goglia in Merion Station is famed for her music and compositions, Sr. Martha Elizabeth Hoyle and Sr. Judith Kapp for their photography and art reflections.

But the Mercys understand the mind and skills-opening value of art at another level. The Mercy Center of the Arts in Erie, Pa., has been taking preschoolers into the worlds of the arts and sciences for 30 years.

Founded by Sr. Catherine Edward Delaney and laywoman Patricia Daley, the center developed programs of drama and dramatic movement, music through games and theory, art -- from finger painting to working with clay to puppetry -- and science as exploration and discovery in nature.

From space in a locker room at Mercyhurst Prep, the center has grown into a multi-space facility within the motherhouse. Which provides some of the best art discoveries of all: those that grow out of intergenerational exchanges between the tots and the elderly sisters.

National Catholic Reporter, February 18, 2000