I felt so sad….
… when I read in the paper yesterday that Mercy Philadelphia Hospital will be closing its inpatient services after just over 100 years of service. For a little over a decade of those years, I was part of the amazing reality we called “Mis”.
No one can define how it got to be such a mysteriously magical place – full of life, death, trauma, healing, angst and love. But as we all churned and deepened in those currents, we came to know a secret: Mercy Enfleshed.
It was a mission born in the Sisters of Mercy and, by the grace of God, enkindling generations of co-ministers in the exercise of compassion.
Nobody owned the secret. Parts of it belonged to the Sisters, the nurses, doctors, administrators, ancillary staff, patients, community advocates. It was like a huge kite that could never fly unless we all held tight to our part of its magic cord.
And the miracle was that we all did.
It wasn’t perfect. No life of 100 Years is. But, by God, it was magnificent – because it was always fueled by the intention to do the the best we could for the love of God and neighbor.. even down to creating world-famous crab cakes for the patients!
When the news hit Facebook yesterday, beloved names began to emerge in the comments. Oh how those comments blessed me as my heart was breaking a little (no, a lot). I was reminded that the inpatient services may cease, but the mission lives in these and so many other hearts. There was a permanent joy in that:
I will always have a special fondness for that place. I love the building. I loved the people that work there and long lasting friendships that I made. Nothing else has compared since.
Truly the most amazing, loving and always challenged hospital. My memories are from my childhood and happy to say a good part of my adult life. I can’t imagine how the Sisters of Mercy are feeling, as much of their legacy lives in the stone and marble that has always quietly embraced so many of us.
This place shaped my life. Really sad.
“Mis” was one of the best periods of my life. So much history there and so many friendships.
I have many personal experiences with the wonderful colleagues who worked there during the many years I worked at Mercy Health System – some of the most dedicated, caring, compassionate, healthcare professionals I have ever met. I am sure the Sisters of Mercy are heartbroken since Mercy Philadelphia occupies such an important place in their legacy in the Philadelphia area. My thoughts and prayers are with all the patients and colleagues at Mercy Philadelphia and especially the community it serves.
My heart is broken. I graduated from Misericordia nursing school in 1969 and proceeded to work for the Sisters of Mercy for 43 years….along side some of the most compassionate and dedicated nurses, physicians, and employees. Misericordia means “mercy from the heart” and it was mercy and love that lived within that beautiful building. Memories of all the wonderful people past and present have come flooding back….in my life I have loved them all. Some became dear friends who continue in my life….years after retiring. I know my dear Sisters must be heartbroken for the community it served for over 100 years in West Philly.
Very sad for those who work there now and for the people of the community. All of the comments posted capture what many of us who worked at “Mis” feel. It helped shape us, reflected true mercy through the tremendous staff who cared for so many over the years and brought people into our lives who continue to touch us. It was always hard work, but we found joy and laughter as we supported each other and cared for those who arrived and touched our lives. That spirit lives on. As my first head nurse, just said….it was mercy and love that lived within that building.
And oh, how hundreds of names, faces, and souls came to pray with me! Nurses who taught me, patients I loved, Sisters I miss so much, friends who laughed and cried with me, leaders who braved through insurmountable challenges – and most of all, our patients and families who put their lives in our hands and knew we would love them the very best we could.
But I know time moves on, and we must let it. Still, I pray about my joyous sorrow today with an excerpt from a book I was privileged to write just before the Centenary:
For nearly 100 years, Mercy Hospital has anchored a sycamore-shaded block of West Philadelphia. Within its solid walls, generations have been born, healed, and accompanied in their dying. The hospital’s enduring presence and service speak an abiding dependability to the community it serves. Still, in contrast to its proven permanence, Mercy Hospital began as a dream, first in the mind of God, and then in the hearts of Mother Patricia Waldron and Archbishop Edmond Prendergast.
On October 24, 1915, this dream commenced with the hospital groundbreaking at 54th and Cedar Avenue in West Philadelphia. Despite the frailties of age and declining health, Mother Patricia was able to attend the ceremony. Although she died before the hospital opened, on that cool and pleasant afternoon, she was surrounded by those who would carry her dream to reality. They stood with Mother Patricia Waldron in a desolate lot, an abandoned farm with but a single, scrawny tree to suggest the possibility of new life.
The history of Misericordia Hospital, now known as Mercy Philadelphia Hospital and of her subsequent sister institutions, is marked by a long line of noble, even heroic, leadership and labor. It is impossible to capture fully a century of these names and legacies. Several, by their significant and enduring contributions, will be noted ….
For the rest, may an awe-filled gratitude serve to acknowledge their selfless contributions now wrapped in time’s anonymity.