What does it mean for a mother when her daughter becomes a Sister of Mercy? How does a mother influence or respond to her daughter’s decision to take vows of poverty, obedience, chastity and service? With Mother’s Day on its way, we spoke with Sister Mary Kay Dobrovolny who reflected on her mother’s influence and continued connections to Mercy.
Religious vocations are not a novelty in Sister Mary Kay Dobrovolny’s extended family. Her aunt is Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. This familiarity, however, didn’t stop Mary Kay’s parents, Mary Ann and John, from being caught off guard when she initially announced her intentions to enter consecrated life.
Her mother Mary Ann was educated in Mercy schools and was well-acquainted with religious life, with her own sister in the same order, but nonetheless a mother’s fear of “losing” her daughter to the Church crept in.
Those fears, however, turned out to be unwarranted. Sister Mary Kay noted how involved and supportive her mother has been throughout her life as a sister:
“Over my 27 years in the community, they have always been eager to be part of my life. They meet my Mercy friends, visit me in my ministry settings and have been at every key celebration of my life in Mercy. At times, such as my profession of vows and celebration of my jubilee in the community, my mom has radiated with her joy and delight.”
Sister Mary Kay also noted that this experience was new for her mother because when her mother’s sister, Sister Patricia McDermott, entered the Sisters of Mercy, family contact was not as frequent and it was difficult to stay connected.
Now that things have changed, not only has Sister Mary Kay received support from her mother during her time as a sister, but also her mother’s connection with the Sisters of Mercy has strengthened. Sister Mary Kay said:
“My mom describes my entrance as her being welcomed into the Mercy family. The Mercy community has been very attentive to my parents and have extended out to them in friendship and welcome…It has been a rich and wonderful life for me as a Sister of Mercy, made all the more gifted as my parents have been able to be part of this journey of life in Mercy.”