Wednesday, September 23, 2009

By Sammi Powers

The now defunct Southside Irish Parade isn’t the only way to celebrate the Irish heritage of Chicago; Celtic Fest was last weekend in Grant Park.

With activities ranging from a best legs contest (for the men, of course, in their kilts) to live Celtic music, this festival runs the gamut of all things Irish (though kilts are more Scottish).

Saint Xavier is rich in Irish heritage, too. Way back during FOCUS (and for some of us that is way, way back) we learned a little about SXU history. We went and saw the rock by the chapel that let us know that we were the first Mercy college erected in America, we visited the Academy Bell where we commission student leaders each Mercy Day, and we stared up at Warde’s pillars and contemplated the eight disciplines listed there.

I’m sure a great many of us have forgotten, though, our origin story. Every good comic fan knows that heroes don’t mean much of anything if without origin stories explaining their crime fighting ways or where their super powers came from.

Our origin story, like the X-Men, involves the founding of a school for talented individuals. Catherine McAuley, an Irish orphan who inherited a sizeable fortune from the Callaghans who employed her, opened a house on September 24, 1827, the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. In this house, three years later and after much prayer, the group of women residing there decided to form a religious order—our Sisters of Mercy.

On a Mercy day, 16 years after the start of the order, Mother Frances Xavier Warde and a small group of sisters came to Chicago. Here they founded Saint Xavier Academy, the first incarnation of the institution we all attend. The institution served women, but spread the gospel to all peoples. SXU first became a co-educational institution in 1969, starting the shape of the university you attend now.

The founding of the school is only one part of our Mercy Heritage. Take a moment to remember what it was that first captivated you about the school, what drew you here. You too are part of the University’s Heritage, just as much as it is part of your origin story.

To keep the Mercy Heritage alive and well in all of us we must continue to live the core values: Respect, Excellence, Compassion, Service, Hospitality, Integrity, Diversity, and Learning for Life. After all, all heroes have standards, values, and a pretty solid moral base to fight from and that’s what we’re gaining here: a way to fight ignorance, poverty, and hardship. When you start to exercise your amazing superpowers, remember your origin story.

Sammi Powers is a junior communications major from Romeoville. She is Peer Minister for Liturgical Ministry, deputy Viewpoints editor for The Xavierite and program director for WXAV 88.3 FM. Consideration for the student bloggers is provided by Saint Xavier University.

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