Mercy and Riversport OKC Dedicate Six Boats for Youth Rowing League Serving Under-Resourced Communities

November 12, 2023

Mercy and Riversport OKC dedicated a fleet of new boats that will be used by students in a rowing league aimed at fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in the Oklahoma City metro.

Riversport’s “OpportUNITY Initiative” provides middle and high school students with a coached rowing league, competition structure and the potential for college scholarships through the Youth Rowing League. The program is free for students attending Title I schools. 

Mercy doctor's coat Boats named in honor of Oklahoma Sisters of Mercy.

More than a dozen schools and organizations participate in the league including ASTEC Charter School, Boys & Girls Club, Cristo Rey Catholic Schools, Douglass High School, FD Moon Middle School. Mid-Del Schools, Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, Southeast High School and Middle School, St John Bosco Institute, and Mustang High School and Middle School.

“We have so much interest from schools that want to be in this rowing program and appreciate Mercy making it possible to expand our fleet,” said Mike Knopp, RIVERSPORT Foundation executive director. “Having more boats means we can bring more youth into the program, and we can see it’s having real impact in their lives.” 

Mercy is sponsoring the OpportUNITY Initiative that aims to make rowing scholarships a reality for students who might not otherwise have access to the sport in Oklahoma City.

“When we were approached to support this amazing program, it was an easy ‘yes’ for Mercy to be involved,” said Dr. Jesse Campbell, regional physician executive at Mercy. “In the way that we believe everyone deserves access to high quality health care, every student should have access to high quality team sports and world-class training facilities that position them for success long into their future.”

Riversport gave Mercy the opportunity to name each of the six boats in the fleet.

“We realized the tradition of naming boats after women was the perfect way to pay tribute to our own Sisters of Mercy, hundreds of whom have served Oklahomans long before Oklahoma was a state,” said Jim Gebhart, community president of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City.

Mercy co-workers voted on the namesake for each boat and selected six Sisters of Mercy who have served in Oklahoma in more recent years. The boats were dedicated today in their honor on the anniversary of the death of Mercy foundress Catherine McAuley.

Mercy doctor's coat Sister Carolyn Stoutz and the Riversport OKC boat named in her honor.

The red boat is named for Sister Rose Power.

  • While working in a segregated 3,000-bed hospital in her hometown of New Orleans, Sister Rose realized her calling to become a Sister of Mercy during her bold advocacy of an elderly African American woman suffering from cancer. When the woman was overlooked by her community, Sister Rose stepped in.
  • In addition to serving as vice president of Mercy’s hospital in Oklahoma City for two decades, Sister Rose was instrumental in establishing what was formerly called the Sisters of Mercy Health System in 1986.
  • Sister Rose has continued to minister to co-workers even in her retirement through poetry and encouraging messages, serving as friend and confidante to many.

The green boat is named for Sister Emerita Stoulig.

  • Originally from New Orleans, Sister Emerita joined her hometown’s own Mercy Hospital where she served as dietary manager for 28 years. She later served as baker, caterer and pastoral care representative.
  • Sister Emerita once led exercises for classrooms of three-year-olds at St. Alphonsus in New Orleans. A journalist once wrote of her work with children that Sister Emerita ministered to her “youngsters through 15 minutes of exercise, dance and hugs.”
  • Sister Emerita was leading exercise classes for senior citizens well into her late 80s. She celebrated her 101st birthday in September.

The bright blue boat is named for Sister Miriam Terese Alvarado. 

  • One of the last Sisters of Mercy to serve at Mercy in Oklahoma City, Sister Miriam now lives in St. Louis with Sister Rose Power and Sister Emerita.
  • Sister Miriam frequently tutored local religious leaders in the Spanish language and provided Spanish translations for local masses. She was key to translating print materials for Mercy schools.
  • Sister Miriam is known for having a patient heart and a face that brightens when she is able to help others, especially children.
  • Sister Miriam taught at Catholic schools in Yukon and Shawnee.

The orange boat is named for Sister Coletta Massoth – a name that may sound familiar to many as Mercy’s cancer treatment facility also bears her name.

  • After receiving her education in nursing, Sister Coletta’s first assignment was working the night shift.
  • Within six months, she was promoted to director of Mercy’s School of Nursing. In addition to implementing changes to the curriculum, she recruited the best physicians and surgeons to teach students.
  • In 1966, Sister Coletta oversaw construction of the new Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City on Memorial Road. She served as hospital administrator from 1974 to 1978. It was her bold vision that moved Mercy from downtown to a cow pasture in northwest Oklahoma City where the current hospital campus is located today. She died in 1983.
  • Sister Rose Power once said of Sister Coletta, “She knew what the hospital would become long before the rest of us. Her mission was to always serve the patients and the people of Oklahoma.”

The pink boat is named for Sister Mary Claver.

  • Sister Mary Claver entered the Sisters of Mercy religious community in 1940 and served many different roles during her 69 years in ministry, including as a teacher, librarian and a skilled seamstress.
  • She worked in Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi before retiring to Oklahoma City’s convent in 2012.
  • At the convent, Sister Mary Claver lived a prayerful life and enjoyed many activities like playing cards, doing puzzles and making beautiful greeting cards on her computer.
  • Sister Mary Claver was known for being faithful to community spiritual events and graciously extending hospitality to all.
  • She was an avid sports fan and passionate about cheering on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although she passed away in February at the age of 99, Sister Mary Claver would have been most delighted to have her name as part of a sports team.

The light blue boat is named for Sister Carolyn Stoutz.

  • Sister Carolyn entered the Sisters of Mercy religious community in 1962. As a Sister of Mercy, she has served on local community boards, as a history teacher, school counselor, vice president of mission, and patient and co-worker advocate.
  • Sister Carolyn recently celebrated her 60th service anniversary as a Sister of Mercy with 22 years of service in Ardmore. She currently serves as chief morale officer at Mercy Hospital Ardmore where she spreads joy to co-workers and patients.
  • “I’ve always wanted people to know that you can have fun as a Sister of Mercy. I hoped to change that image of a strict nun,” said Sister Carolyn. “We laugh and have a good time, and I always find a chance to joke with the people around me.”
  • Sister Carolyn’s personal ring, traditionally worn by each Sister of Mercy, is engraved with the motto “Love serves joyfully.”