What My Daughter Has Taught Me about Mercy #OTEM


This post is part of our Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Mercy series, in which CatholicMom.com contributors will share their own experiences of living the Year of Mercy. Beginning at Pentecost and continuing through the summer, we’ll cover many aspects of the Works of Mercy in family life.

Ordinary Time Extraordinary Mercy

Sometimes I worry about my daughter, who has the kind of personality that will always choose adventure and risk over common sense. Often, she acts before she thinks.

But there are times when her actions show that her heart is in exactly the right place. The first time I realized this was at my father-in-law’s funeral. My older son was asked to be a lector. When he broke down as he read the second reading, his sister (only 13 at the time) really came through for him. She didn’t have to think about it. She just left the pew, walked up to her brother, and stood there behind him with her hand on his shoulder. And when he finished his (mercifully short) reading, she took his arm and walked back with him to their seats.

While the rest of us sat frozen in our pews wishing we could do something to help my son, my daughter took action. She showed what she is made of.

All on her own, my daughter will cook a meal and deliver it to a grieving family. She has come home from college in order to attend the funeral of her high-school track coach’s wife. She’ll spend whole nights consoling friends after bad breakups. She’s volunteered at AIDS Outreach, soup kitchens and post-hurricane relief projects. She’s got the best handle on the Works of Mercy of anyone I know–and she’s only 20 years old.

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows her that she’s studying to be a nurse. Her compassion and quick actions in times of crisis will be valuable assets to her in that profession.

In the Year of Mercy, I pray that I’ll be able to be more like my daughter: quick to jump in where mercy is needed, thinking of others first instead of myself. This Year of Mercy, I pray that we all will take the initiative and have the courage to be merciful. As my daughter has taught me, it’s not always a bad thing to be impulsive.

Read the other articles in our “Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Mercy” series.

Ordinary Time Extraordinary Mercy

Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS


About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of 3 young adults, and a Secular Franciscan. She is managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at CatholicMom.com. Barb enjoys writing, cooking, and reading, and is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.


  1. Lindsey M. on

    Your daughter sounds like someone I’d like to know, and a blessing to everyone she meets. I hope that I can raise my children to live lives of mercy and love, as you clearly have succeeded at doing. Although even at just 3 years and 9 months of age, my children have already taught me so much about how pure and unselfish love can be, and for that I am thankful.

    • Thank you, Lindsey! I’m not sure I taught her this–I think it was always natural for her; but I definitely encouraged her every kind impulse. When she was a toddler, if my husband or I felt tired or ill and we lay down on the couch, she’d bring over her “special blanket” and every stuffed animal in sight to help us feel better. It’s just the way she is. Encourage and praise your little ones when they share, put others first or try to help someone feel better.

  2. Kelly Guest on

    Your daughter reminds me of own. On the first active day of P.E. class freshman year, the students had to run a lap around the track – not difficult for my daughter or many of the other kids in class. Everyone was finished, waiting for just one girl who was struggling to make it to the end. My daughter run out to her on the track and ran the rest of the way with her, encouraging her every step of the way.
    Don’t you just love when they lead by example that way? God has blessed us in our girls.

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