GO AWAY: Ireland Edition

“Go away.”

That’s what Misericordia’s president, Dr. Thomas Botzman, likes to tell students. I’m sure he means it in the nicest way possible, right? Right.

What Dr. Botzman means by telling students to “go away” is to explore the world beyond the walls of campus.


Step out of your comfort zone and travel, doing good deeds in your path. Discover the satisfaction and adrenaline that come along with following your heart to far off lands.

Don’t push off the idea of international travel without giving it proper thought. Misericordia offers a few trips to allow students to make a difference even across the globe. How cool is that?!


Students have done service work throughout the United States as well as in Jamaica, Peru and Guyana.

I recently returned from a trip to Dublin and Belfast in Ireland. IRELAND. I WAS IN IRELAND! Wow. It still doesn’t feel real. 🙂


In Ireland I attended a Mercy Leadership Conference with seven students from MU and two lovely chaperones. Roughly sixty students from Mercy schools in the USA, Ireland, England, and Australia graced the conference with their presence. Each of these students has proven to show signs of leadership on their campuses. The theme was “Now is the Time.”


What happens when you put sixty leaders/strangers together in one room? Well, you would think things could get a little competitive or tense when people are so similar. Or perhaps you might think it’d be an awkward environment. But life isn’t always what you think.

The result? Remarkable.

During my stay in Ireland I was lucky enough not only to soak in the beauty Ireland has to offer but also to establish meaningful connections with students who have the same mindset as myself as a recognized leader.


Although we are all different, each person at that conference undeniably had one thing in common: we were all there. And that was good enough for us.

Picture this: sixty students who might never see each other again, smiling together and crying together, building lifelong relationships in a matter of four days…in Ireland. 😉


The conference stretched my thinking and allowed me to explore the world from another perspective- the perspective of being in another person’s shoes (preferably size eight and a half).


Learning about the United Nations and social, political and economic analysis is not a topic I thought I’d encounter at this international gathering, nor did I think I’d ever hear a Sister say, “Hi, I’m Sister Karen, and I’m addicted to mercy.” But these things happen, I suppose, and who am I to judge someone addicted to mercy when I myself am having withdrawal?

When sitting on the airplane hovering over enormous puffs of cloud and riding tour busses overlooking endless pastures of green, it’s impossible not to feel small sometimes.



But every fertile farm begins with one blade of grass and every cloud begins with just one drop of water.

What I took away from this Mercy Leadership Conference in Ireland was that I am capable of being that one blade of grass or that one drop of water that turns into something bigger.


Be that one.

Travel every chance you get, especially through MU, and meet the inspirational individuals that surround you in this world.

Misericordia was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, which is why MU is considered a “Mercy” institution. Since the Sisters of Mercy founded other schools besides MU, that makes these other schools Mercy affiliations. Although I knew these other Mercy schools existed, I never really realized how cool it is that there are people outside of MU that “get it.” These Mercy schools “get” the mission of MU and understand what it’s like to have a small campus and they “get” that Catherine McAuley (founder of the Sisters of Mercy) is essentially a celebrity. (And the conference was held at the first building she opened on Baggot Street to house, feed and care for the needy year ago!)


It’s kind of like this: Imagine you are part of one of the very few chess teams in Pennsylvania and then you go to Ireland and you find sixty other people from chess teams and you think, “This is great- I felt like I was the only person on a chess team!” knowing in the back of your mind that surely there HAD to be another chess team out there somewhere, just too figuratively distant to fathom. Well, if that makes any sense to you, it’s kind of like that. It’s a great thing.

In Ireland we had the chance to be tourists for a few days, but I’ll save the stories about the infamous Paddy’s Palace (hostel) and roast beef potato chips for another time.

Now is the time…go away.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”




Check out the scoop about the Young Mercy Leaders Conference and more photos from my amazing experience at this website!


One thought on “GO AWAY: Ireland Edition

  1. I am fortunate to be able to relate to this message; having a sister who celebrated her Jubilee last years in Ireland! She is a Sister of Mercy who has spent most of her time in the Medical field! She really does love it!

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