Our Lady of Mercy celebrates 50 years
by Michael Perlman
Oct 24, 2017 | 1892 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the evening of October 21, the clubhouse and patio of the West Side Tennis Club hosted “Our Light Shines Bright,” Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy's 50th anniversary gala and fundraiser.

Over 200 guests attended, with the list of guest speakers including Monsignor John A. McGuirl and Principal Dana McCann, who presented a certificate to Sister Francis Rose for her dedication to the students.

“A teacher is more than just an educator, and plays the part of friend, cheerleader, coach, nurse, and role model,” she said. “Sister Francis Rose taught for 45 years, and spent 27 years at Our Lady of Mercy when she started in 1986. You truly exemplify the meaning of a true Catholic faith.”

School officials also accepted proclamations from Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Seeing the joy and connections reignited proved the OLMCA light is shining and has a bright future,” said Shandon Melvin, who planned the event with co-chairs Amanda Melvin, Angela Martin, and Soumaly King.

Melvin’s eldest daughter started at Our Lady of Mercy in pre-K.

“After the first year we loved it, but decided to ask her where she wanted to attend kindergarten to find out if she really liked it,” said Melvin, who nows has a second child at the school with a third on the way. “She literally begged us to let her stay. That sealed the deal.”

Linda Mele Dougherty was a member of the first graduating class of 1971.

“The building was not complete, so we met in the church and took a bus to Resurrection-Ascension School, which offered two classrooms for third and fourth graders,” she said.

On February 14, 1967, the new building at 70-25 Kessel Street opened its doors.

“Later that spring there was a formal dedication, and in attendance were the Bishop of Brooklyn and many dignitaries,” Dougherty recalled. “The Knights of Columbus lined the way, dressed in full regalia.”

In 2003, Dougherty returned to Our Lady of Mercy as principal, a post she held until 2016.

Nancy J. O'Connor’s sister graduated in 1975, and she continues to keep in touch with Forest Hills-based alumni.

“Monsignor Matthew Hickey made it his goal to open a school, since many of the parish children attended neighboring Catholic schools,” she said. “My dad and other fathers would spend evenings visiting homes asking for donations, which was a humbling experience.”

For 22 years, Sister Ann Barbara Desiano was a pastoral associate.

“I wanted children to grow up with great memories of traditional events like First Communion and Confirmation, and also enjoy the weekly message of the Gospel, which we did with puppets for the young children,” she said. “Vacation Bible School was creative and memorable for children and adults. I also loved engaging the children in social outreach including weekly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless.”

Anna Pinto's two children attended, and upon eighth-grade graduation her daughter received “The Sister Mary Ellen Malloy” award for “demonstrating kindness to all and a loving and caring spirit.”

“Over the past ten years with the Lions Club, my children have helped to collect over 4,500 recycled eyeglasses from our church, parish, and community to donate to those in need,” she said. “They were taught to rise to the challenge of making our country a better place for all to live.”

Annamarie Smolenski taught at Our Lady of Mercy from 1987 to 2013. She recalled priests who were consistently active, not only by visiting the school but teaching classes. A main theme during the years of Sister Mary Ellen Molloy and Monsignor Langelier was building a firm bond between school and church.

“Our most popular school-parish event was the Fashion Show, featuring school moms and staff with the Golden Age senior ladies,” she said.

Julia Warren is currently an eighth grader at the school.

“Our Lady of Mercy has given me best friends that I now consider family, and strong academic teachings along with great memories that I will cherish forever,” she said.

“My involvement with the church especially grew stronger in second grade when I received the Eucharist and did Penance,” said her twin, Angelina. “I started attending more regularly and became an altar server in the fourth grade. Now I am receiving Confirmation and couldn’t be happier.”

“Our Lady of Mercy played a role in helping me to be more understanding of people in need,” said jack Warren, a member of the Class of 2015. “I helped in the food pantry on many occasions.”
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