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Mercyhurst Faculty Art Show Features Alumni, Will Ursprung ’76

Mercyhurst University alumnus, Will Ursprung ’76, is the featured guest in this year’s Mercyhurst University Art Faculty show. Ursprung earned his degree in Art Education from Mercyhurst University in 1976 where he had the opportunity to study with Ernest Mauthe, Daniel Burke, and Sister Angelica Cummings. He also studied at the University of Arts in Philadelphia and at the Barnes Foundation.

Ursprung then spent his thirty-five year career as an Art Therapist. He worked twenty of those years at the Graterford Prison, Pennsylvania’s largest maximum security penitentiary. There he used his skills as an art therapist,” to help others rehabilitate their lives and survive the prison experience.” It was at Graterford that his work in collage progressed. “There was a symbolic transformation where the recycling, repurposing, and reclaiming of discarded objects demonstrated the link between material salvage and personal salvation.

The exhibit has his small mixed media collages using found objects, steel, and wood. His interest in the found object and collage is influenced by primitive art, and Celtic, Norse, and Native American myth. In this group of works there are references to the eye. Ursprung is legally blind due to a retinal detachment. “I am not able to see well enough to have a driver’s license but I do see the world from a very different perspective.”

In 2013 Ursprung had a one man show entitled, “Tangible Spirits” at the Indigo Sky Community Gallery in Savannah, GA. Also in 2013 his works were selected for the national juried exhibition, “The Eye of the Beholder, The Fine Art of the Found Object” at the Maryland Federation of Art in Annapolis, MD. He completed an artist residency at the Cill Rialaig Project, Ballinskelligs, County Kerry Ireland which was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. His artwork is included in the following collections: The Gallery at the Seligman Center for Surrealism, the James A. Michener Gallery at Kent State University, the Taller Galeria Fort in Barcelona, Spain, and the Musee Du Artcolle in Sergines, France.

As always, it is good to see a fellow alumnus of the University return to share their successes with current students, faculty, and alumni. The collection will be in the Mercyhurst  Cummings Art Gallery from October 10th – November 16th! It also features Mercyhurst University Art Faculty including, Daniel Burke, Tom Hubert, Gary Cardot, Jodi Staniunas-Hopper, Robert Tavani, Mary Elizabeth Meier, Jamie Borowicz, and Patricia Tomczak-Czulewicz. Stop in to see all the incredible work.

Will Ursprung, Soliloquy. His work is a collage on wood with found papers and imagery. 22” X 28”

Will Ursprung, Soliloquy. His work is a collage on wood with found papers and imagery. 22” X 28”

Alumni Spotlight – Sr. Michele Schroeck

This month we are spotlighting Sister Michele Schroeck ’88 ’96 ’10, an Elementary,  Special Education and Organizational Leadership grad who is now a Sister of Mercy and program coordinator at the The House of Mercy – a ministry and residence of the Sisters of Mercy in an economically and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Erie, Pa. Sr. Michele has had a rich history with Mercyhurst and truly exemplifies what it means to dedicate one’s life to the mission of our founding sisters and the University.

Giving Back…

Some of the volunteers from Saturday's service project at the Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC) in Erie.

Some of the volunteers from Saturday’s service project at the Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC) in Erie.

In honor of the Mercy Month celebration taking place on the Mercyhurst University campuses, the alumni relations team worked with the service learning office to host a Mercyhurst community service project this past Saturday. Mercyhurst students, alumni, and employees gathered at the Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC), a local non-profit helping refugees settle in to Erie, with the clean-up of a building they have recently acquired. It was a great opportunity to provide dozens of free labor hours for this organization, helping to provide a clean and functional facility to help expand their reach throughout Erie’s growing refugee population. Check out our Facebook page for a few photos from the event.

There were also service projects held in Washington D.C. and New York City this month, a great opportunity for alumni in these areas to get together, network with each other, and make a great contribution to worthwhile organizations in the process.

We hope this is the first of annual service events in conjunction with Mercy Month. Watch your email and the website for more details as we look forward toward next year’s event!

Advent Reflections – Dr. Thomas J. Gamble


“All [people] of whatever race, condition or age, in virtue of their dignity as human persons, have an inalienable right to education. This education should be suitable to the particular destiny of the individuals, adapted to their ability, sex and national cultural traditions, and should be conducive to fraternal relations in order to promote true unity and peace throughout the world. True education is directed towards the formation of the human person in view of [one’s] final end and the good of that society to which [one] belongs and in the duties of which [one] will, as an adult, have to share.”

(Declaration on Christian Education)

By Dr. Thomas J. Gamble

Dr. Thomas J. Gamble

Dr. Thomas J. Gamble

This wonderful quote, truly a treasure of Vatican II, could easily have come from Catherine McAuley herself. From the very beginning Catherine insisted that the Sisters would provide education to those who would otherwise have remained uneducated. Catherine fully understood the essential role of education, that through educating one, we respect their human dignity and through education their intrinsic dignity is allowed to more fully flourish. She understood that the essential nature of the human person calls them to learning and that the institutions of a just society have an obligation to answer that call in the language of the caller.

Catherine also understood that those on the margins of society needed both a practical and a liberal education. That education is a means to making a living, but also a means to deepen one’s understanding of oneself, one’s world and one’s faith. This Mercy approach to education – as a nuanced mélange of the practical with the aesthetic and the intellectual in the context of faith – is what we seek to create at Mercyhurst. It is good and appropriate in this season of hopeful anticipation that this quote from Vatican II calls us back to how what we do here every day is a reflection of Catherine’s vision from the 19th century as well as a faithful response to the 20th century call of Vatican II.

Thomas J. Gamble, Ph.D., became the 12th president of Mercyhurst College on March 1, 2006. He was previously vice president for academic affairs and a tenured associate professor of criminal justice and psychology.

Advent Reflections – Sr. Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, Ph.D.


“In the light of the foregoing factors there appears the dichotomy of a world that is at once powerful and weak, capable of doing what is noble and what is base, disposed to freedom and slavery, progress and decline, brotherhood and hatred. [Humanity] is growing conscious that the forces [it] has unleashed are in [its] own hands and it is up to [humanity] to control them or be enslaved by them. Here lies the modern dilemma.”

(From the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)

By Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, Ph.D.

Sr. Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, Ph.D.

Sr. Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, Ph.D.

This Vatican II document, more inspirationally titled Gaudium et spes from its greeting “The joys and the hopes…,” challenges all followers of Christ to address the “modern dilemma.” It raises questions worthy of our Advent reflection, for its concerns and challenge lie at the heart of the identity and mission of Mercyhurst:

1. Did you know that this document exerted a key influence on Catholic universities worldwide as they sought to define what makes a Catholic university Catholic in an age of so much social transformation?

2. Did you know that it also formed the core of Part I of Ex corde Ecclesiae?

3. And, did you know that Dives in Misericordia, John Paul II’s encyclical letter, is precious to the Sisters of Mercy for holding up mercy as an avenue to healing those modern-world dichotomies articulated in Gaudium et spes?

These documents, the dilemma of the joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties of the modern world, indeed point to issues that call for research into actual conditions and scholarly reflection into avenues of betterment from a Christian perspective. These documents demonstrate why the U.S. Catholic bishops have urged social-justice education across disciplines. These documents can inspire and challenge us and give direction to the goals and growth of a Catholic Mercy University.

Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, Ph.D., a Sister of Mercy and an alumna of Mercyhurst, has taught writing and literature at the college since 1981. She is currently vice president for mission integration.

Advent Reflections – Missy Lang


“Before it can begin, all dialogue presupposes that an attitude of sympathy
and openness between those who take part has been brought about
by more or less spontaneous contacts and exchanges,
in the details of ordinary daily life. It is in the context of human relationships, which can be varied, that dialogue of whatever sort usually takes its origin and form.”

(Decree on Ecumenism)

By Missy Lang

Missy Lang

Open and honest dialogue has been a staple of my family life for as long as I can remember. I learned at an early age that the basis for open and honest dialogue is TRUST. Trust that the other participant respects and is willing to try to understand your point of view and most importantly that the other participant is paying attention.

As I reflect on the quote, I realize that this Advent my attentions should focus on listening and appreciating the dialogue I share with friends, family and colleagues. Recently, my interaction with friends, family and colleagues has become limited by my fascination with technology and the “easier” ways to communicate. Texting, email and social media limit the commitment and trust that relationships need in order to flourish. Think about it: when we text or email, we send statements that are static and straightforward. Face to face interaction is dynamic and interactive. I can’t remember a time that I thought, “Wow, I have an amazing text conversation with…”

During this Advent, may each of us focus on how we communicate and interact with our friends, family and colleagues.

Missy Lang has been a member of the Mercyhurst community since 1995 when she arrived as a freshman biology major. She is the director of the Mercyhurst West campus and a former Mercy Volunteer Corps volunteer.

Advent Reflections – Dave Hewett


“Access to the sacred Scriptures ought to be wide open to the Christian faithful.” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)

By Dave Hewett

Dave Hewett

Thinking back, I still have to laugh … well, chuckle at least. Knowing that this was just part of God’s plan for me, I still have to smile thinking what it took to get through to me.

I remember sitting in Sunday morning Bible study. I don’t remember the topic of the day or even the particular passages; I just remember thinking to myself, “wow! this is good stuff!” I was so moved that when I came home, I had to tell my wife about all of the good things I had learned. The next week the same thing happened. I began to highlight text in my Bible so that I could easily find all of these particularly useful and more important Scriptures.

I was learning about sin and repentance, forgiveness, relating to authority, marriage, God’s grace and mercy, and love. I learned a lot about love. I learned about the gospels and the epistles, about the new covenant and the old, and about men of great faith, like Paul. All of these were things that I wondered about, had questions about, or just had an inner desire to know, and now it was there … right in front of me … right where God left it for me … in the Bible.

I have continued to read these sacred Scriptures with a real thirst and desire to hear what God would have to say to me through them … and what it is I am to learn next. I find that even those passages that are now very familiar to me still have new and ongoing relevance in my day-to-day life.

I am thankful that God’s plan is to use His word to teach me and to guide me and to help me know His will and purpose for me in this life.

Dave Hewett is a 1987 graduate of Mercyhurst College (Accounting/CMIS) and was the student-athlete of the year (’87). After spending 16 years in public accounting, he returned to Mercyhurst in 2002 as controller. He is the current lay leader of Koinonia of Erie County and president of the Erie District Golf Association, and is entering his 30th year as director of the Times-News Open Bowling Tournament. He and his wife, Elaine (’91), have two cocker spaniels, Putter and Chipper.

Advent Reflections – Mary Gavacs


“From the fact of their union with Christ the head flows the laymen’s right and duty to be apostles. Inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate.”

(Decree on the Apostolate of Laypeople)

By Mary Gavacs

Mary Gavacs

We have the right and responsibility to be apostles. A heavy assignment, yes?

Traditionally, apostle is defined as someone who is entrusted with a mission and Merriam Webster online provides several synonyms for apostle, including advocate, backer, booster, champion, exponent, friend, herald, promoter, proponent, supporter and true believer. Now that we are clear on what an apostle is, what is the mission we are sent on? Scripture guides us in that, but if each of us looks into our hearts; can it simply be to just be the goodness that we are?

Love, truth, hope, kindness, patience. If we put love first, that will guide us on our mission, guide us in our choice of behavior, and guide us in how we interact with others.

What more do we need for a mission? If we act with love, the goodness that we are at the core, then the peace and justice we all seek will follow. Then we will be the champion, friend and supporter that an apostle is.

The heavy assignment of being an apostle is within our reach. No need for a separate trip to a faraway land to complete the apostolic mission. It can be done every day; in the greeting to those we know and those we don’t, holding the door open, exercising patience, responding positively, showing mercy and providing an encouraging word.

God is love, and so are we. It is our right and responsibility to give it a try this Advent season.

Mary Gavacs teaches in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, is a certified yoga teacher, and volunteers at the Emmaus Ministries Kids Café.

Advent Reflections – Dr. Gil Jacobs


“A special responsibility for the proper use of the means of social communication rests on journalists, writers, actors, designers, producers, exhibitors, distributors, operators, sellers, critics – all those, in a word, who are involved in the making and transmission of communications in any way whatever. It is clear that a very great responsibility rests on all of these people in today’s world: they have power to direct mankind along a good path or an evil path by the information they impart and the pressure they exert.”

(Decree on the Means of Social Communication)

By Dr. Gil Jacobs

Dr. Gil Jacobs

Dr. Gil Jacobs

I grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Wisconsin in the 1950s. I recall one cold December evening riding in a horse-drawn sleigh with my Dad and looking up at a multitude of stars in the night sky. I can imagine what it was like for the young shepherd boys who were looking up into the night sky when suddenly

An angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this (is) the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased (Luke 2:14).

What a powerful message for all of mankind. As my friend Father James McCullough wrote in 1998,

We see only a Child in a stable –
What might we see if we were able?
A love incarnate, a Love divine,
A healing Love making all things fine.
A child indeed, pivot of history,
Visible to all, yet still a mystery.

As I reflect on these things and my responsibility to communicate goodness and hope to all people, I am inspired by how God communicates his divine love for us, especially during Advent.

Dr. Gil Jacobs is dean of graduate studies and director of the Organizational Leadership graduate program



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