A History of Our Lady of Mercy Parish
Parish Activity Center
The next project, construction of a new parish hall encompassed the existing building across from the church. The once private brick home across the street from the church had been remodeled in 1977 to accommodate the nursery, choir room, meeting room, restrooms and small kitchen. With remarkable ingenuity, the private residence was completely absorbed into the new Parish Activity Center. The Guardian Angel Room is the original house, which the parish purchased many years earlier. Two interior patios in the 13,800-square foot Activity Center supply light for the surrounding hallways and offices. One patio is dedicated to St. Francis and the other to St. Jude.
A completely equipped kitchen permits the preparation of meals for large groups who are served either cafeteria style or individually in Emmanuel Hall which is the large meeting room on the west side of the building. This room can be divided into three smaller sections by folding walls and accommodate as many as 400 people seated at tables. The Parish Activity also houses two offices, a choir rehearsal room, public restrooms, a library, which can also be used for small meetings, a small conference room, a multi-media center and a small reception area.
The necessity of the Activity Center can be appreciated when one considers that Our Lady of Mercy has some 70 different ministries and organizations to serve the needs of our parish and community. Obviously, many meeting rooms are needed with an average of ten meetings a clay and between 4,000 and 6,000 people attending a variety of events each month in the Parish Activity Center.
A painting of the Madonna and Child by Dom Gregory De Wit hangs in the St. Gabriel Room. De Wit established his reputation as an artist painting the murals in Sacred Heart Church. He gave the painting to an Our Lady of Mercy parishioner many years ago, and this parishioner requested that it be hung in the Parish Activity Center.
In early 1992, under the guidance of Father Mike and the Parish Council, the School Board began working toward developing a master plan to address the growing needs of the school. A parish-wide fund raising campaign began in 1994 to raise the funds required to do the extensive work. Over two million dollars was raised. The improvements to the school included a new library, computer facility, science lab, eighth grade classrooms, and cafetorium.
An addition to the parish facilities in 1994 was the Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Our Lady of Mercy Parish was first in the diocese to have perpetual adoration. Through a generous donation by a parish family, the parish became the first in the diocese to have a specific chapel dedicated solely to perpetual adoration. The chapel was built in the Meditation Garden, near the church. The architecture follows the style of the Church, office building and Parish Activity Center. As in the Church, clear windows are mounted between the walls and the roof as a source of light. By providing light in this manner it is not necessary to have windows, thereby ensuring privacy for the worshippers inside.
The remodeling of the confessionals in Church, which was completed in 1996, is the most recent improvement to the parish facilities. The confessionals have been redesigned to be handicapped accessible and include air conditioning.
Father Mike has maintained that Our Lady of Mercy parishioners should balance their strong spirituality and dedication to the Eucharist by providing service and outreach programs; Mercy should be faithful to worship and service.
Consequently, Our Lady of Mercy led the Christian community to develop enhancement programs such as working with other churches in the section of the city known as Melrose East Interfaith Committee and in the free pharmacy which is operated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
As Our Lady of Mercy prepares to celebrate a half-century as a faith community, the parish continues to grow in the manner envisioned by its pastors and parishioners. The structure of the parish continues to be built by the many teachers who mold the character of our children; the office personnel who faithfully and courteously fulfill the needs of the parishioners and the numerous parish volunteers who serve so diligently by contributing their time and talent. All of its members continue to give unselfishly to raise Our Lady of Mercy to even greater heights and remain grateful for the contributions of those who have passed on to their eternal reward.
From a humble beginning of 240 families, there were almost 2,900 registered families living both inside and outside the parish jurisdiction. Guided by its faithful and dedicated pastor, Our Lady of Mercy Parish will enter into the new millennium continuing to develop and grow in its family of faith united in prayer, love and Catholic tradition.