We at Mercy by the Sea have so much we want to share with you:

  • Inspiring and transformational quotes, prayers, poems, videos and books we discover or rediscover
  • Conversations with upcoming  presenters
  • Resources and thoughts on contemplative prayer, spiritual direction, the second half of life, emerging leadership, creativity, our relationship with nature and much more!

You'll find seasonal photos of the grounds — vegetation, trees and winged and four-legged creatures that make their homes here.  We'll capture changes in the light and colors as the seasons change.  So bookmark this page and come back regularly.  Or subscribe to receive an email each time a new blog posts. Just scroll down and type your email address in the field provided then click the SIGN UP button. 

School for the Second Half of Life: Cohort Four’s Graduation Ceremony

Mercy by the Sea thanks and congratulates the fifteen participants in the Fourth Cohort who graduated from The School for the Second Half of Life on December 10, and welcomes the fourteen participants who will begin the School on January 28. Click here to view the graduates' photo and to read Marie Boyle's words as she opened the beautiful graduation festivities, designed by the class.

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By Marie Boyle  | 

Grieving - the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E. L. Doctorow

When I offered an update on my year long writing project, my friend said, “It sounds like the book is writing you.” He was right. Each time I dipped back into the words to rework, edit or add source material, I re-entered sacred space. I returned to a place of waiting and deep listening. I hoped my message was authentic and true, at least from my point of view, and that it might help others. At the same time, the year of writing helped me reach a place of honesty and humility that feels like home.

After eleven years as bereavement chaplain, I signed a contract to write Grieving - the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss ” for Skylight Paths Publishing. It was official - I was a writer. Thus began my journey into the Land of Loss. I knew the Well of Sadness and the demands of Surrender. I had traveled, over and over, through the agonizing forests of Passage. But I also knew the Fountain of Hope, it’s waters had soothed my journey and I believed my work could offer hope to other travelers in the Land of Loss.


Based on popular demand, we are offering Healing Loss Through Conscious Grieving and Writing with Lisa Irish again as a weekend retreat option.

Based on popular demand, we are offering Healing Loss Through Conscious Grieving and Writing with Lisa Irish again as a weekend retreat option.

I did not understand, however, the impact that writing a book to help others would have on me. I did not fully appreciate the influence of the writing process on my inner life. Each time I returned to the regions and movements of loss, I entered the emotional world of feeling stranded, of surviving, of letting go, of allowing transformation. My work deepened after each revision, as my heart claimed what I was learning. My friend’s suggestion that the book was “writing me,” gave voice to the gift that writing has become in my life. It led me to a felt-sense of my own healing and a return to my soul.

Writing and grieving are similar. They each provide a reliable, yet mysterious, template for movement through the unknown. As a writer, I may have a sense of where I am headed, but at the same time, I remain open to new ideas or shifts that ask a little more of me. Grief, too, offers a path to follow. If I listen carefully, I might find myself asking questions or facing fears that come forward unexpectedly. While painful, grief guides me through loss. Sustained by love, grief is my ally in the ways of Loss, just as writing is my muse in the mystery of life. The light that each provides shines just as far as I need to make the journey, one step at a time. My task is to keep going, to trust the great Wisdom that underlies the human story and to rest in the great Love that holds all of it.


Gayle Boss

Lisa A. Irish MA, MEd, BCC, spiritual director and supervisor, carries experience in hospital chaplaincy and retreat leadership to offer compassionate understandings of loss, grief and healing. Of her book, Grieving - the Sacred Art: Hope in the Land of Loss, Fr. Richard Rohr says, “…the roadmap is wise, but sensitive – grounded in hope – and reminds us to rest in God’s healing love.” Lisa’s book is sold in the Mercy by the Sea bookstore. 

Learn more about Lisa and her work at

By Lisa Irish  | 

Standing on the Shoulders

There is a song Standing on the Shoulders, words and music by Joyce Johnson Rouse used in many anniversary-type rituals. As we near the celebration date for the Golden Jubilee of Mercy Center by the Sea, it would seem a fitting conclusion to these weekly blogs to recognize that we are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came  before, stronger for their courage, wiser for their words, lifted by their longing for a fair and brighter future; we are grateful for their vision, for their toiling on this Earth.

We stand on shoulders of Catherine McAuley who founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin Ireland in 1831 and the Spirituality of the Sisters of Mercy with an awareness of God’s action in our lives inviting us to a compassionate engagement with the world around us.

We stand on the shoulders of the Community of Sisters, Companions and Associates of Mercy who have supported this ministry and mission as sponsor and serving as staff, Board members, volunteers, donors and friends.

We stand on the shoulders of the administrative leadership of 50 years, paying tribute to the eight leaders during this time.

Patricia Rooney RSM, 1973-1979

Jeanne Snyder RSM, 1979-1985

Genie Guterch RSM, 1985-2004

Jim Emswiler, 2004- 2008

Krista May,  2008-2010

Charles Frey, 2011-2013

Eileen Dooling RSM, 2013-2021

Mary McCarthy RSM, 2022                                                                                                                                      

We stand on the shoulders of those who serve as Board members past and present sharing their talents and resources in support of this work with the Sisters of Mercy.

We stand on the shoulders of those who serve as staff members past and present who work here and have worked here as receptionists, registrars, program directors, program presenters, spiritual directors, book-keepers, accountants, secretaries, directors of services, marketing and development and our housekeepers, chefs, cooks, maintenance and groundskeepers. We thank you for your hard work and ever-compassionate and respectful care given to our guests and each other.

We stand on the shoulders of those who are generous in their supportive service and their presence as volunteers who have given generously of their time and energy in support of innumerable tasks and responsibilities.

We stand on the shoulders of the many persons who have been generous in their financial support providing financial resources - large or small - for your gift of presence and support .  You may never know who and what your gift supported but your generosity has contributed to the continuance of Mercy Center by the Sea these fifty years.

Oh, yes, you lift us higher than we could ever fly, carrying our burdens away. Just imagine our world if you hadn't tried. We wouldn't be here celebrating today.*

 And so we declare to you what was from the beginning…what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes; what we have touched concerning the mission and spirit of Mercy Center by the Sea; giving witness  to this rising light of 50 years. We give thanks for God’s Mercy that has been revealed to us. We know that tomorrow there will be a new light rising, a dawn for each of us and for Mercy by the Sea.

 May the healing rays of the sun touch our earth. May the hope of dawn resonate throughout our earth, bringing renewal and restoration. Out of God’s deepest Mercy, this new dawning light shall break upon us, lighting the darkness and guiding our feet on the path of peace. Amen.

 *Adaptation of words for Standing on the Shoulders by Joyce Johnson Rouse, Earth Mama

Posted 9/10/2022

One Hundred Thousand Thank Yous for one Hundred Thousand Welcomes

“Every human being
Has a great, yet often unknown gift
To care,
To be compassionate,
To become present to the other,
To listen, to hear and to receive.
If that gift would be set free and made available-
Miracles could take place.”

-Henri J. Nouwen

This quote from Henri Nouwen is a very treasured gift to Mercy Center that goes back to early days when Henri was at Yale and often stayed at the Center while writing or bringing groups of students from Yale. Henri wrote in later years Reaching Out which described the paradox of hospitality. “The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free. Free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances, free also to leave and follow their own vocations. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the lifestyle of the host but the gift of a chance for guests to find their own."

Mercy by the Sea recognizes a rich tradition in a hospitality that reveres the value and uniqueness of each person and that fosters a welcoming space where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free.

Mercy by the Sea recognizes a rich tradition in extending a hospitality and spaciousness that nurtures right relationship with the Sacred in self, others and creation.

These mission statements through the years reflect and inspire a hospitality of relationships that foster a mutual respect, where we are present to each other to listen, to hear and to receive.  Hospitality is one of the service pillars of the Center with staff and volunteers committed to making individuals and groups feel comfortable and welcomed. There is a long tradition of welcoming church and professional groups, civic organizations and businesses.

To the staff, past and present, who have worked here as receptionists, registrars, program directors, program presenters, spiritual directors, bookkeepers, accountants, secretaries,  directors of services, housekeepers, chefs, cooks, maintenance and grounds keepers, thank you for your hard work and ever compassionate and respectful care and hospitality given to our guests and each other.

Thank you! Thank You!  Thank You!

Catherine McAuley foundress of the Sisters of Mercy had her own brand of hospitality. At the end of her life, she said to one of her sisters, “Be sure you have a comfortable cup of tea when I am gone.” Ever since, a cup of tea has been a symbol of the warm and caring relationships which were at the heart of Catherine McAuley's Mercy vision.

As a little tribute to fifty years of comfortable cups of tea: in the old coffee corner with a friend or one of the many gatherings over 50 years sharing in relationships and creating new ones.

Do you remember Mother’s Day Brunch, dancing under the stars, lobster bakes, jazz bands, autumn food and the Connecticut Opera Express?

 And the Alexander Peloquin Concert, Christmas parties...


Posted 9/4/2022