Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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Sharing of Faith and Culture

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, May 18, 2015

On May 10th, Fr Ken and I began a journey from LeRoy, NY to Georgia with a van packed with religious goods. These items (statues, stations of the cross etc.) were from the former Mercygrove property which was recently sold. The proceeds from the sale are allocated in large part for the development of a new redemptive mission to families in the United States.


The first stop on our journey was to drop off several items at Life Teen camp in northern Georgia. It felt good to be able to give these religious articles new life at a camp which each summer is packed with teens and young adults.

 

After a two hour stop, we were back on the road bringing a special gift to our 3rd Order in Atlanta. Through these dedicated lay people, Order of Mercy has been present in Atlanta for 17 years. It all began in 1998 when a little woman left Rome and arrived in Atlanta, GA. Maria Virginia's story is key to this movement which Christ would bless.

 

The spirit of merced or ransom was placed in Maria at an early age as she was educated by the Mercedarian Friars in Puerto Rico. This spirituality would continue to grow in her throughout her life. When her husband passed away in his 60’s, Maria felt the Lord was calling her to enter the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. After a few years of formation, it became clear to her that Christ the Redeemer desired her to go out to those in need” with the message of mercy.

 

Many extraordinary circumstances led, Maria Virginia to her mission field in Atlanta, GA. Seventeen years ago she set up her home in Georgia and quickly got to work. Maria got permission of the Order of BVM of Mercy to establish a 3rd Order in a place where no friars or sisters had been. With her deep faith, love for Our Lady of Mercy, and boundless energy this women was able to inspire many to follow the redemptive spirit of the Order.

 

Soon enough, it became clear that God was calling the new 3rd Order to assist the many immigrants who were coming from Mexico and settling in the Atlanta metropolitan area. These immigrants left behind all they knew seeking a better life. Yet their faith, which is the most precious treasure, was in danger in a new land. Who will teach them about Christ? Who will baptize their children? They hide in the shadows with no one to shepherd them.

 

Fr Ken and I got to experience first hand the redemptive work of our 3rd Order in Atlanta. The week of May 11th was spent blessing houses and practicing our Spanish as we enjoyed authentic Mexican food with the the people. The highlight of the week was a outdoor Mass with many immigrant families. As we struggled to speak their language, they just appreciated the opportunity to come close to Jesus and teach their children how to worship.


On this long journey into the Deep South an exchange took place. We brought statues and religious items which are plentiful in the Northeast. These are aspects of our culture which have preserved the faith of generations. We experienced tangibly the faith and devotion of the Mexican people. Hopefully our ministry among them has strengthen and enriched the faith of all.

 

May Our Lady of Mercy place her mantle around the mission of the Atlanta Chapter of the 3rd Order! She who is the refuge of the captive and persecuted Christians, will surely watch over this mission to those in the are marginalized today.

 

Life Teen website

St John the Evangelist Church Hapeville, GA

Third Order of Mercy

 


Serving Latinos in danger of losing the faith in Georgia

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, March 24, 2014

According to the latest Census stats: Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States The majority — two-thirds — are still traditionally Roman Catholic. However, a growing number, almost 600,000 a year, are leaving the Catholic Church. We can imagine that St Peter Nolasco's heart would be broken at these people leaving the Apostolic Faith. The Mercedarian Third Order in Atlanta, Georgia is doing it's part to preserve the faith of these immigrants.Sheila Appling, the treasurer, tells of their work and prayer:

 

We are proud and blessed to belong to such an outstanding faith community. We humbly dedicate our lives in the service of the Lord through His Blessed Mother under the title of Mercy. It is a great privilege of grace to work alongside priests, brothers and seminarians of whom we share in the redemptive mission.

 

The Third Order in Atlanta carries out the redemptive mission through the weekly recitation of the holy rosary with families that invite Our Lady of Mercy into their homes. The families we visit are immigrants mostly from Mexico. We started this mission by knocking on their doors, offering them food, clothing and asking them if they would like to receive Our Lady. Without hesitation they said yes. During these weekly prayer times, we discovered that many of the families were not attending Mass as well as numerous children and adults were in need of the sacraments. We continue the Rosary but have added another dimension of serving the homeless with food collected through donations from the rosary and our members.

 

Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River. It is the fastest growing state and has a large population of Spanish speaking immigrants from Mexico. According to a 2003 Needs Assessment by the Archdiocese of Atlanta the estimated number of Latinos in Atlanta was 460,000. I believe we have surpassed that number. In one of the areas we serve we estimate over 1,000 people living in this small mobile park community. This community is in dire need of evangelizing. We have discovered many adults and children without the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage. They are very opened to the Charism of the Order of Mercy. We, the Third Order of Atlanta,try to visit these captives, "break open the Gospel" and help them return to and be reconciled with Christ and His Church. The harvest is ripe indeed! There is a strong sense of urgency here in Atlanta to help those in danger of losing their faith.

Thank you for taking the time to hear efforts here in Georgia.

In Jesus through Mary,

Sheila Appling

Treasurer

Third Order of Our Lady of Mercy

 Founding of the Georgia 3rd Order

 

For More information about Latinos leaving the Church see:

Switching Sides: Latinos Ditching Catholicism For Evangelical Churches

 

USA Today

 

 

One women's love for Our Lady of Mercy leads her to establish a 3rd Order

Mercedarian Friar - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

From the foundation of the Order in 1218. St Peter Nolasco and the friars were assisted by lay people. These became the 3rd Order. Wherever the friars are so are the dedicated lay men and women helping the ransoming mission. However, sometimes the Holy Spirit reminds us that he is in charge. This happened when he inspired Mary Virginia Fant to establish the 3rd Order where there were no friars present. The small group has grown to over 50 active members Here is the story:

 

Small beginnings

Mary Virginia Fant first established the Georgia Chapter of the 3rd Order of the BVM of Mercy, upon her return to the United States from Rome Italy at St. Philip Benizi Catholic Church in Jonesboro, Georgia. There she was asked to serve as the spiritual director of the Legion of Mary.

 

The Spirit blows where He wills

Later Mary Virginia was offered the opportunity to move to North Georgia to head a group home for unwed mothers. Feeling that this was not quite what Our Lady wanted her to do and having a strong yearning to go out into the community she declined the offer.

Mary Virginia and Beverly White later moved to St. John the Evangelist Church where they met with then pastor, Father Vincent Douglass C.Ss.R, who gave them a blessing to go out and bring the people to the church.

 

The 3rd Order begins to take shape

Mary Virginia, Beverly and one more person, gathered clothing and prepared food to distribute among the poor immigrants living in the shadows of St. John. Initially, they would distribute the food and clothing on Saturday mornings. During this outreach, Mary Virginia began telling the people about Our Lady of Mercy and asking them if they would like to receive her in their homes to pray the Rosary. They all opened their homes to Our Lady thus opening their hearts to her Son and began attending Mass and receiving the Sacraments.

 

Captivity of the marginalized

The Third Order gained more members, mostly Immigrants from Mexico. As the number of families attending St. John grew, we knew we needed to help them organize into a group that would help with the liturgy and serve in the Mass. While the children were in Religious Education classes. Mary Virginia would meet with the parents to plan special liturgies and feast days which included The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We worked alongside St. Joseph Hospital ‘s Mercy Mobile delivering healthcare to the poor in south Atlanta.

 

 

3rd Order


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