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Mercy Sisters’ communities to merge

BURLINGAME, CA (Catholic San Francisco) - The Sisters of Mercy’s Burlingame community and five other regional Mercy communities will merge into a new organization serving 861 Sisters and 525 associates in ministries from San Francisco to Detroit under a restructuring approved March 24-30 by Mercy assemblies meeting in Chicago.

The result of seven years of planning, the new organization, called the West Midwest Community, will be based in Omaha and governed by an elected board with representatives from Burlingame and the five other regional communities. Elected president by an overwhelming majority on the first ballot was Sister Norita Cooney of Omaha.

Sister Judy Cannon was elected to represent Burlingame and Sister Michelle Gorman to represent Auburn. They will serve five-year terms.

Taking effect July 1, the merger is part of a restructuring of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. The institute includes 4,194 Sisters and 2,800 associates in the Americas, Guam and the Philippines.

“Legally it’s a statutory merger of the six regional communities into a new West-Midwest Community,” Sister Cannon told Catholic San Francisco. “Ten countries outside the U.S.A. are doing the same thing.”

The shrinking and aging of the order is a factor in the restructuring, Sister Cannon said. The average age of Sisters in the institute is 73. Among the six regional communities in the West-Midwest Community, there are four new members, including candidates, novices and temporary professed. Several other women are in the process of joining the community.

“I think they are all very concerned about new membership,” Mercy Burlingame spokeswoman Liz Dossa said in an e-mail. “That is an office that has been very active across the Institute. Of course, the whole question of changes in religious life is huge, and there don’t seem to be any easy solutions. I think the Mercy community will be a smaller community targeted to needs that aren’t being met in other ways.”

The merger, which will result in the loss of an unspecified number of jobs as administrative functions are combined, is designed to strengthen Mercy’s sponsored, co-sponsored and affiliated ministries in education, health care, prayer, parish work and spiritual direction and social services.

Mercy’s West Midwest ministries include four institutions of higher education, three retreat centers and Mercy Housing Inc., which has developed more than 32,000 homes across the country during the past 25 years.

Mercy’s Burlingame ministries include Mercy High Schools, Catholic Healthcare West, Scripps Mercy Hospital, Elder Care Alliance, Mercy Retirement and Care Center, and Mercy Center.

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of Catholic San Francisco (www.catholic-sf.org),official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Calif.

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