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Women in Business

How Sister Richard Mary Burke Helps the Helpers

Mercy’s longtime coworker relations coordinator is putting people first while weathering a truly unprecedented time in healthcare.

By Lillian Stone

Oct 13 2020 at 9 a.m.

Sister Richard Mary Burke
Photo courtesy of MercySister Richard Mary Burke's role at Mercy is to care for the staff and keep coworker morale high.

Biz 417: Your job is about caring for people who care for people. How do you accomplish that in the middle of a pandemic?

Sister Richard Mary Burke: The primary challenge is not having enough time to personally engage with our co-workers. Eye contact, smiling and expressing compassion to them are key components of our Mercy spirit. Nevertheless, staying in touch through technology has strengthened us all in our desire to be connected as best we can.

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Biz: How do you keep coworker morale high?

S.R.M.B.: First of all, that is the responsibility of each Mercy co-worker. In my efforts, I have transitioned from the ministry of action—education, in-services, rituals, et cetera—to the ministry of presence. People are hungry to be listened to and receive validation for a balance of current experiences personally and with ministry. This privilege honors our core value of dignity and affirms each person in their inherent worth.

Biz: How do you recharge after spending the day caring for your team?

S.R.M.B.: I prioritize my personal prayer life and look for time to take frequent walks, watch sports on TV and keep in touch by phone with family, community members and loved ones.

Biz: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?

S.R.M.B.: I believe the present circumstances have enhanced my appreciation for a sense of calm. As an extrovert and passionate individual, this is usually conveyed in my presence, messaging and choice of topics to be discussed. There’s so much over which we have no control right now. Honoring myself and my colleagues through striving for calmness and hope are areas in which I can always grow and improve.

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