2015 - October 19: Merciful Love Connection Celebrates 10 Years


Sr Maria Gloria Sr yvetteIn 1972, I was finishing my Bachelor’s Degree at Holy Family College in Manitowoc Wisc. That year Pope Paul VI asked the Catholic Colleges to support a Sister from Latin America for a year to study. Under this program, Sister Maria Gloria came to Holy Family. She told me about Chile, her Community and the Refuge of Mercy.  I was young and open to adventure. I wanted to go to Chile then, but she said “No, the political situation is too dangerous.”


In 1989 a friend, Sue Foy, invited me to lunch and gave me a ticket to go anywhere in the world.  I chose Chile. I called Sr. Maria Gloria and she said, “Next week we will have the “Yes-No vote.  If the No’s win, Pinochet will no longer be the dictator, and democracy will return to Chile and it will be safe to come."  The NO’s won and I went to Chile for a month. 


It was a wonderful experience.  We traveled the length of Chile and I found out about their Refuge of Mercy. Maria Gloria and I talked using a dictionary and by the end of the month we had a few sentences in common. When it was time to leave I was so happy that I had been able to go to Chile, and so sad because I thought it was a trip of a lifetime and I would never be able to return.


I returned to my great job. In the meantime, a new administrator had been hired. Three weeks later he called me into his office to ask for my resignation. “Why?”  I asked.  “You’re not tough enough” was his reply. I asked him to invite me to lunch the next day and I would give him my resignation.  He did and I did. 


But what are you going to do with a fired nun?  “To dig I am not able, to beg I am ashamed.”(Luke 16:3)   Chile! I could go back to Chile!  My Community didn’t know what to do with a fired nun either, so they so they gave me permission and a blessing.  Sr. Maria Gloria was a little suspicious because “Why would you ever want to come back to this poor country?”  Finally we agreed that it would be a good idea for me to return. 


I was given leave to join them for a year. I was able to stay for two. I returned in 1990.  I wanted to go back again but my Community said they did not have the money to support me there.  I said “What if I get a grant?”  “We’ll see.” was the reply.  In 1997 I came home for Christmas and there were two grants in the mailbox! I was on my way!  I quit my job and went back to Chile in February of 1998 for two years.


When I came home in 2000 I told friends about the Refuge and they gave me money to use on behalf of the young mothers. Sister Mari and I worked together to provide for the needs of the Refuge. I began to write grants for Refuge projects, and my Community supported my endeavors. When I was ready to go to Chile I collected all the money I had and put into the Bank of Chile in New York.  When I arrived in Chile, Sr Mari and I decided what were the priorities and I simply wrote the checks for whatever we needed.


In 2005 a lawyer friend who listened to my method of writing checks for projects at the Refuge was horrified. “You did WHAT? In the eyes of the IRS that is money laundering and you would look cute in orange! "

Gulp! “What do I have to do?” I asked,

She said, “You need a bank account that only the Sisters have access to and you need to start a charitable organization.” 


The sisters opened a bank account in Chile. A friend said, “I can help you with the charitable organization." She came back three weeks later and told me it was too difficult.  I asked Erv DeSmet, a lawyer friend of mine, if he could help me. He said, "Call Gene Russell in Seattle.” He is a CPA  and knows a lot about Charitable Organizations. I called, and Gene said, “So you’re a Benedictine. I owe a lot to the Benedictines; I went to their country school for my first eight years.”Signing papers for MLC

 “Oh”, I said, “where was that?”. 

He laughed “You’ve never heard of the place. It was Lemmon, South Dakota!” 

My turn to laugh "Lemmon! Gene, I taught there for three years!” 


Together, Gene and I drew up the papers that would make the new organization legal, transparent, and trustworthy.


On October 11, 2005, the Merciful Love Connection received its nonprofit status. On October 19th we signed the papers and the Merciful Love Connection was born. Our first Board of directors included myself, Sr Yvette Mallow, as Executive Director; Claudia Petursson as President; Michael Roybal as Secretary; Lani McCarry as Treasurer; and Sr. Lorane Coffin as our member-at-large.


The rest is History!


Look in the Gallery to see the beautiful work and accomplishments of the last 10 years.



Sister Yvette