Authors A - B


Affenito, Sandra G., Judy Artz, and Vivian Carlson. “Mercy Mission and Transformative Change: Evaluation of a Revised Governance Structure.” Journal of Catholic Higher Education 33, no. 1 (Winter 2014): 75–91.

Focused on the value of experience-based research as a means of engaging faculty in institutional change, this article reports on the change from a division-based to a school-based organizational structure at the University of Saint Joseph, a Mercy institution in Hartford, Connecticut.  The authors document faculty response to the change from an invitation to participate in the planning for the impending shift to a faculty resolution to evaluate the new model (two months after it was implemented) to a two-year internal research study that led to affirmation of the change.  The article invokes change theory and the Saint Joseph study to discuss factors related to making and sustaining transformative institutional change.  Particular attention is given to the role of mission – “to educate the whole person and to create citizens who are globally aware and committed to humanitarian good” (76) – and to the Catholic social justice principles of “participation, common good, and stewardship.” (85)

Application:  The authors themselves point out that while the research they report “is specific to one context, the process of conducting empirical research is applicable by other institutions.” (91)  This article, then, may be of interest to administrators and faculty dealing with institutional change and/or internal empirical research.  These authors see such research as one effective means to address the ever-challenging realities of building partnership between faculty members and administrators and of moving an institution through major change in a climate of trust and common purpose.

Austin, Victor L. “What Makes a Mercy College.” The MAST Journal 14, no. 3 (2004): 40–42.

This short reflective essay by an Anglican priest and faculty member at a Mercy college (Mt. Aloysius) explores how an institution’s religious heritage might – and should, in the author’s opinion – be demonstrable in the present and for the future.  From reflection on his own experience at his home institution, the author derives four theses with specific relevance for Mercy colleges/universities.  Those theses focus on symbols, a sense of welcome, human dignity, and service.

Application:  Brief, reality-based, and encouraging, this article could well be used with incoming faculty and staff at any Mercy college/university.  The characteristics that the author observes and endorses are both familiar and authentic.  His observations and commentary provide a base from which to reflect on, assess, and/or recommit to the same or similar qualities as those that contribute to the distinctiveness of any Mercy-sponsored educational institution.

NOTE:  Until The MAST Journal is available on-line, individual copies of an article can be requested from the Mercy Heritage Center.  Contact the archivist Grant Gerlich at

Bathgate, Michael. “Reading the Writing on the Wall: Visualizing One University's Mercy Mission in a Cosmopolitan World.” The MAST Journal 20, no. 1 (2010): 6–11.

Though specific to Saint Xavier University (Chicago), this article presents an interesting approach to engaging students with the Catholic and Mercy identity of an institution of higher education.  Bathgate proceeds from the premise that “primary sources need not be limited to documentary evidence” and asks his students to “read” the signs and symbols “encoded into the physical structure of the University itself.” (6)  Historical context, “principles of symbolic interpretation,” (8) and discussions probing the meaning of various symbols in themselves and in relation to one another introduce students not only to the Catholic and Mercy character of the institution they’ve chosen to attend but also to the aims of such an institution - aims which go beyond equipping them for economically successful careers.  

Application:  Faculty or staff responsible for introducing incoming students to a Mercy college or university might find in this presentation an unusual and engaging approach.  What do the architectural features, special campus sites, signs and symbols, as well as mission statement and core values of an institution “say” about the purposes and expectations of the institution and the education students might expect to find there?

NOTE:  The MAST Journal wrongly identifies the university at which the author teaches.  It should read Saint Xavier University.

NOTE:  Until The MAST Journal is available on-line, individual copies of an article can be requested from the Mercy Heritage Center.  Contact the archivist Grant Gerlich at

Bertocci, Rosemary J., and Francis H. Rohlf. “Service Learning Assessment in General Education Courses.” The MAST Journal 18, no. 2 (2008): 10–14.

Values, repeatedly invoked as Mercy values, take center stage in this article which emphasizes the learning aspect of service learning courses and discusses course design and assessment strategies for general education courses that include service learning.  The authors propose that such courses form “the character and vision of the student that will undergird the values that students will carry into their professions and manner of living.” (10, emphasis in the original)  Additionally, the authors maintain that in design and subsequent assessment these early service learning courses provide a means of testing how well an institution is meeting its overall goals in the preparation for students for careers and for life.  For introductory general education courses, the article offers some practical course design and assessment strategies, drawn from the authors’ home institution.   In terms of assessing overall institutional goals, the article also gives brief attention to assessment strategies for senior capstone courses or projects.

Application:  Assessment of the long term impact of service learning experiences poses considerable challenges and makes this article worth review.  Those drawn to this article, however, are advised to read the last paragraph first since it is there that the authors identify what they mean by Mercy values – namely, service, mercy, justice, and hospitality.  Despite this delayed specificity about a core aspect of the article, what the authors describe is applicable or adaptable to whichever values an institution identifies in its mission or in a description of its ideal graduate. 

NOTE:  Until The MAST Journal is available on-line, individual copies of an article can be requested from the Mercy Heritage Center.  Contact the archivist Grant Gerlich at

Bolster, Mary Angela, R.S.M . “Catherine McAuley, Her Educational Thought and

     Its Influence on the Origin and Development of an Irish Training College.” Ireland, n.d. [2003?].

An address tracing the history of Craysfort Training College, a teacher training institution conducted by the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, this text will not be of general interest to Mercy educators in the United States.  Nonetheless, it includes some significant, if brief, insights into Catherine McAuley’s educational philosophy and practice: her emphasis on religion as foundational to education; her practicality; her respect for competition, examinations, and rewards to encourage students; her insistence on the competency of teachers; her attention to current educational thought and practices; her pioneering use of assistant teachers (monitresses); her principled, if controversial, alignment with the Irish National Board of Education; and her status as “a successful path-finder in the educational field.” (6) 

Application:  Catherine McAuley placed great emphasis on the value of education, and this text – or significant excerpts from it – could provide faculty and administrators of Mercy institutions of higher education an opportunity to reflect on her convictions as the authentic roots of contemporary Mercy education.


Bolster, Mary Angela, R.S.M. “Catherine McAuley: From the Edges of History to the Center of Meaning.” The MAST Journal 6, no. 2 (Spring 1996): 1–5.

Primarily a reflection on the life and character of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, this article includes a brief but interesting section on Catherine as an educator.  Mentioned are her bold actions to open a school while education of Catholics was still forbidden in Ireland, to “place her schools under the National Board of Education,” and to train and pay monitresses (senior pupils) for the sake of reaching more students than a single teacher could manage.  These reflections on Catherine as educator occur in the context of the article’s central theme – namely, that in many spheres of life and endeavor Catherine McAuley was a liminal figure, that is, one who stood on a threshold and moved with boldness into new territory in response to the call she felt to reflect and extend God’s mercy to people in need.

Application:  This article may best serve as a background piece providing some fresh insights into Catherine McAuley’s life and person by interpreting biographical facts in the context of the society and the Church in which she lived and instituted the Sisters of Mercy.  Written by the Irish Sister of Mercy who served as the Postulator (promoter) of the cause for Catherine’s canonization, the article explores both the quality of liminality and that of marginality in Catherine’s life, that is, her role as an innovator on the one hand and, on the other hand, her experience as a Catholic in a fiercely Protestant society. 

NOTE:  Until The MAST Journal is available on-line, individual copies of an article can be requested from the Mercy Heritage Center.  Contact the archivist Grant Gerlich at

Burns, Helen Marie, R.S.M . “Some Lasting Efforts for the 21st Century.” Veteran Educators: Renewed in Mercy, Chicago, IL, July 2009.

Looking toward the new millennium, this article offers “one image and three insights” from the Mercy tradition that the author proposes will enable Mercy-grounded education “to make some lasting efforts in the 21st century whatever that century may have to offer.” (7)  The image of the “walking sisters” highlights the need to be consciously and critically attuned to the realities of our culture and our time.  The three insights – explorations of the value of ordinary life, of hospitality as an attitude of openness, and of compassion as complementary to justice – point to hopeful possibilities and critical challenges for education informed by the Mercy charism.

Application:  This article invites and challenges all those engaged in education to make that enterprise socially responsive and relevant in counter-cultural, systemic, and personal ways.  Its vision of the importance and potential impact of Mercy-inspired education, attune to but not co-opted by contemporary culture, deserves serious consideration by faculty and students, administrators and staff members, trustees and donors.  A light opening to what was originally a talk to Mercy educators belies the serious and insightful substance of this article.


Burns, Helen Marie, R.S.M. “Reflections on Sponsorship: One Congregation's Perspective.” In Sponsorship in the U.S: Theory and Praxis. Edited by Smith, Rosemary, S.C., Brown, Warren, O.M.I. and Reynolds, Nancy, S.P., 1–16.

This article provides an insightful and historically rooted discussion of sponsorship, the relatively recent term for the complex relationships by which the official Catholic Church and religious congregations of women and men take responsibility for the character and operations of various ministerial institutions.

Acknowledging the mixed religious and cultural factors behind the establishment of Catholic schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions, the author points out how the principle – that such institutions were founded on behalf of the Church to further its mission – was “often lost in the practical, committed enthusiasm of congregational members” (6) who generally planned, built, administered, and staffed such institutions with relative autonomy.  In the context of post-Vatican II re-examinations of Church structures, greater emphasis on the role and responsibilities of the laity, and the changing demographics of religious orders, the article uses examples from Sister of Mercy educational and health care institutions to discuss three current sponsorship “movements” – “meaning and mission…impact and influence…preservation and collaboration.” (8)  As these “movements” play out, the author suggests, partnerships among laity and religious, often in the form of a “public juridic person,” may become the means “to maintain sponsoring relationships into the foreseeable future.” (15)

Application:  Because sponsorship is part of the governance structure of every Mercy college or university, this article holds particular value for others with governance responsibilities – trustees, administrators, and faculty members.  Its readable blend of theory and practice (by way of examples) provides an engaging introduction to and discussion of the still-developing concept of sponsorship.  The emerging reality of layperson-religious partnership with shared responsibility for an institution’s Mercy identity and character makes this article especially relevant for all who care about fostering the Mercy legacy in the present and extending it into the future.



Butler, Josetta, R.S.M., and Claudette Dwyer. That in Our Work the Church May Grow: A Report on the Overseas Education Program, 1959-1979. Chicago: Privately published, 1980.

“The goal of the Overseas Education Program was to strengthen bonds of charity among members of religious communities of women in the United States and developing countries…by offering all-inclusive scholarships covering undergraduate education and programs of religious formation to qualified members of indigenous religious communities.” (1)  This slim volume recounts “twenty years of activity,…the facts of the [Overseas Education] Program and summary of some of the statistics involved.” (Preface, unnumbered page)  What it sacrifices to brevity are the personal stories and the later testimonies of gratitude and accomplishment that attended this Program at the time and after its participants returned to their home nations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.  Just under 20 pages of text are augmented by 46 pages of appendices and 25 pages of exhibits – all of which make fascinating reading as the statistics, early communications, finances, and subsequent positions held by Program participants enrich the general story.

Application:  A largely forgotten chapter in Mercy and Catholic higher education, the Overseas Education Program anticipated contemporary efforts to bring the global community “home” to the campuses of Mercy-sponsored institutions.  This account by two of the principals involved in establishing and growing the Program demonstrates its reach beyond the U.S. and beyond the decades of its operation.  An interesting example of institutional cooperation before there were formal collaborative structures for Mercy higher education, the Overseas Education Program is a legitimate point of pride for the participating institutions, whether sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy or by other congregations of women religious. 


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