Diocesan News

Mercy Residents Enjoy Day at ‘Motherhouse’

by Sister Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M.

Victory and her sister Dawn enjoy a day of relaxation at the Convent of Mercy in Fort Greene.
Victory and her sister Dawn enjoy a day of relaxation at the Convent of Mercy in Fort Greene.

The Convent of Mercy fills most of a block in the Fort Greene/Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. A few blocks west of its main entrance on Willoughby Avenue is Pratt Institute, where young artists and architects prepare for their future careers.

A steady stream of cars, trucks and buses hurry past the convent’s side entrance on Classon Avenue. Most are heading for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, on their way to Manhattan or Long Island. Many of the neighborhood people and passers-by don’t know much about the building behind the high walls. For the new neighborhood denizens, young Hasidic mothers pushing baby carriages, the walls produce more speculation than information.

A Sacred Place on Willoughby

For those of us who do know it, this building is a sacred place. For 152 years, it has stood as a silent, majestic tribute to the care of disadvantaged children and disabled adults. Sisters of Mercy have spent their lives in this good work. Others called the building home until a few years ago when circumstances caused them to move, and Mercy Home made it its main agency – the heart of 13 supervised residences for people with developmental challenges.

On a recent flawlessly beautiful Sunday, music sounded inside the beautiful garden where over 200 people sat at tables enjoying food and entertainment. Most were adults who’d never heard of Pratt Institute or higher education. Many can’t read or hold a conversation beyond expressing needs and desires. With them were their professional caregivers and a few family members. Some recognize the staff and sisters and demonstrate their dancing skills. Several among them play in Mercy Home’s band, Melodic Soul. They are content.

Mercy Home aims to provide lifelong life skills to each person in its care. Mercy Sister Kay Crumlish, the agency’s executive director, knows each by name. She and the staff are determined to encourage and support each person’s potential. Opportunities to enjoy life go far beyond a Sunday afternoon in the convent garden. Residents are taken on trips; they enjoy swimming pools, bowling and dancing. Not all, of course, but there is something for everyone.

Some of the residents have come from other agencies; however, still others have been with Mercy Home since they were little children. A few parents visit their sons and daughters regularly. They are so grateful to witness the care given their loved ones – care they cannot provide themselves.

While the music from the garden spills out onto the busy street, there is another song in the hearts of the residents’ parents. It’s a song of gratitude and blessing.

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