By Savannah Blanchard, a 2021 graduate of Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, Massachusetts

By definition, mercy is “the kind and forgiving treatment of someone”; however, mercy is so much more than just a forgiving act. As I was starting to think of ways to write this blog, I decided to reach out to a few people for their thoughts on the subject. Being a senior at a Mercy high school made me interested in hearing what people say when asked, “What does mercy mean to you?”

I decided to ask two Bishop Feehan students—a senior and a sophomore—and a teacher. The senior said, “Mercy is about doing service and doing things for others, and the sophomore said, “Mercy to me means the ability to show love and respect to everyone around you and being able to love and forgive those who have wronged you. Essentially, just having the strength to show a smile or a face of kindness and be able to put the wrongs in relationships with people aside and turn it to forgiveness rather than hatred.” My teacher said, “ I think that for me, mercy is another way of saying I love you, but with actions instead of words. With mercy, showing our care and concern for other people, making THEM the focus of the love, instead of us.”

Everyone has their own different version of what mercy means. To me, mercy means being unapologetically helpful, kind, giving and faithful, all at the same time. There are a variety of ways to show mercy, such as volunteering at a shelter or food bank, giving a person a compliment or, maybe, by sitting with a person preparing to pass away and holding their hand and letting them know it is okay to reach for an angel’s hand.

Each day, I try to live out the Catholic values of mercy my parents have instilled in me. I plan on taking mercy values with me into my college life, my career and my future family. Growing up in a Catholic household, I was taught how important it is to volunteer and serve others to better the community. As a result, I have decided to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses care for families and patients at the best and worst moments in their lives. I want to show love, kindness and compassion when people are hurting the most. In college, I also plan to continue to volunteer in my new community of Knoxville, Tennessee, whether by volunteering at a soup kitchen with my friends or helping to raise money for my sorority’s charity. I recently started volunteering with the Special Olympics of Massachusetts by helping to coach Heller’s Angels, a swim team. The experience is incredibly rewarding, and I embrace the act of serving and helping these children to become active and see them burst out of their shells. I want to continue to bring the Mercy charism with me wherever I go.

Not only have my parents and family helped me to grow in mercy, but my school community has, too. As freshmen at Bishop Feehan, each student is required to learn the school’s core values: spirituality, mercy, stewardship, integrity, excellence and respect. We students at Bishop Feehan will carry these values with us throughout our young adult and adult lives. By the time graduation arrives, Feehan students are able to go into the world and live out the values our school has taught us. All of the teachers and faculty do an outstanding job of preparing us for the next stage.

Because of the mercy values Bishop Feehan has instilled in me, I do not look at volunteering as a requirement or a chore, but rather as an experience I welcome with open arms. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have spent my last four years learning how to be charitable, respectful and selfless.