WILKES-BARRE — The Religious Sisters of Mercy were recognized for their service in the community at The Luzerne Foundation’s annual meeting and reception Wednesday.
Phil Decker, chairman of the board, said he asked community leader Mary Siegel to present the Mary Bevevino Community Service Award to the Sisters because of her history and close relationship with members of the order.
The Sisters of Mercy had named Siegel and her two sisters — JoAnn Jones and Beth Black — Women of the Year 10 years ago for embracing the spirit of mercy and compassionate service and their generosity in their personal and professional lives. Their parents, the late George and Elizabeth Ruckno, had been active with Sisters of Mercy projects at Misericordia University and the former Mercy Hospital, and the siblings carried on their parents’ commitment to the religious order.
On Wednesday, Siegel joked she was there “to make a public confession: I’m a Sister of Mercy wannabe. … Seriously, when I first learned the Sisters of Mercy were to receive the Mary Bevevino Community Service Award … this year, I could not have been more thrilled. As many of you know, next to my family and dear friends, the Sisters of Mercy and Luzerne Foundation are my two favorite passions.”
Siegel said the Sisters give care and assistance with dignity and respect to all they serve, and give special attention to the marginalized and underserved in the community, especially needy children.
Some of the programs and institutions the Sisters founded and continue to sponsor in Luzerne County include: several non-traditional educational programs, including the McGlynn Center in Wilkes-Barre; a shelter for homeless women and children at Catherine McAuley Center in Plymouth and Wilkes-Barre; a counseling/spiritual direction center at Mercy Consultation Center, a skilled nursing center/personal care facility at Mercy Center, and Misericordia University, all in Dallas Township.
“We are so grateful for you, not just for what you do, but for who you are,” said Siegel. “You are such gifts. … Our community is truly a better place for having you (here).”
Sister Patricia Vetrano, president of the Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community, accepted the award on behalf of the religious community.
Vetrano thanked the foundation and asked the large contingent of Sisters of Mercy in the audience to stand and be recognized, which they did to applause. She said she could think of no organization that was “more in sync” with the mission of the Sisters of Mercy than The Luzerne Foundation because of the good it does for the community.
“It’s very much an honor to receive this award and feel in sync with what you all stand for,” she said.
The Sisters of Mercy came to the Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre areas in 1874 and 1875 at the request of the bishop to teach in parochial schools and minister in hospitals and parishes.