The doors at the former Angel Guardian Home in Brooklyn have been closed for the last time. A symbolic closure was conducted Sept. 22 as the Sisters of Mercy held their last Mercy Day celebration on the site.
The Sisters of Mercy opened Angel Guardian Home as an orphanage for children in July of 1899. As social services in the city took new approaches and fewer children were available for adoption, the Home closed as a residence for children and became the offices for MercyFirst, a comprehensive children’s services program.
For the closing ceremonies, MercyFirst staff returned to the Angel Guardian Campus for a closing ritual. Sister Patricia Vetrano, R.S.M., President of the Mid-Atlantic Community, offered a welcome and the prayerful support of the Sisters of Mercy community.
Jerry McCaffery, the executive director of MercyFirst, also addressed the staff and emphasized the ongoing relationship between the ministry and the Sisters of Mercy. Next, participants shared stories and significant moments in Angel Guardian’s history.
The staff then moved to the chapel. The leadership of the agency and the longest serving staff members led the procession.
Sister Margaret Dempsey, R.S.M., MercyFirst development and adoption staff, offered a reflection, and Sister Maureen King, R.S.M., MercyFirst vice president of mission integration, commissioned the staff for a new beginning.
Participants processed out of the chapel, down the front steps and outside the building. The last three staff members in the procession were the three Sisters of Mercy who work at MercyFirst. Their final act was to symbolically close the doors to the building that were opened by the Sisters of Mercy in 1899.
The Mission Continues
The mission of MercyFirst – to provide compassionate care to children and youth in need from abuse, neglect and families coping with the stress and pressures of poverty, domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse – will continue at its new location in Sunset Park and other locations in Syosset, L.I., and Queens.
During Mercy Day celebrations at both the Angel Guardian and Syosset campuses, two nonsupervisory staff members at each location received leadership awards for modeling the behavior of the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.