Mercy Center




Mercy Center is a Ministry of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas-West Midwest Community, an order of Catholic women religious. Mercy Center was established in 1982 in Burlingame, California, as a retreat center and conference center for secular and religious nonprofit organizations.

Mercy Center provides a place where women and men can become more attentive to the presence of the Divine in their lives and in the world, and then respond more fully in care of the Earth and service to others – especially the poor and the vulnerable.

Learn more about the Sisters of Mercy West-Midwest Community.



Bernadette Hart, RSM, Interim Director of Mercy Center, brings her gifts as a skilled teacher, spiritual director, and group leader with experience in elementary schools, parish work, hospital chaplaincy, assisting elders, and vocation ministry.



Catherine Regan, Ph.D. is a spiritual director, clinical psychologist, and Centering Prayer teacher at Mercy Center. She has a special interest in contemplative practices and the benefits of these practices in our individual and collective lives at this time in our world.

Joy Andrews Hayter, Ph.D. is a spiritual director dedicated to fostering Centering Prayer and other contemplative practices that help us become aware of God's ever-present love.  As a scientist, she sees in the physical world an expression of that love.

Mary Ann Clifford Rodriguez, RSM has served as a formation director and a missionary in Latin America for nearly 20 years, and has focused her ministry on spiritual direction, retreat direction, and the formation of spiritual directors in both English and Spanish languages. Sr. Mary Ann is especially interested in the connections between spirituality and culture.

Liz Lawhead, M.A. is a spiritual director and retreat leader. She completed the Spiritual Directors’ Institute and the Internship in Retreat Direction at Mercy Center and is now team leader for the Art and Practice of Spiritual Direction formation program. Liz obtained a Masters Degree in Pastoral Ministry with a focus in Spirituality, at Santa Clara University.

Marilyn Granucci is a spiritual director with experience in directing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. She is currently the Spiritual Direction Resource person who assists people in finding spiritual directors through Mercy Center where she also facilitates days of prayer.

William Dohar, Ph.D. has been involved in pastoral ministry for over 20 years. He has taught at the Universities of Notre Dame and San Francisco, where he directed USF's Campus Ministry retreats. He currently works as a spiritual director in the Bay Area and teaches in the Religious Studies Department at Santa Clara University and at the University of California, Berkeley.



Suzanne Toolan, RSM was the founding director of Mercy Center. Sr. Suzanne is our resident liturgist and directs Taizé prayer at Mercy Center. She is a well-known composer, probably best known for her hymn, “I am the Bread of Life,” published in more than twenty languages.

Mary Waskowiak, RSM served as director of Mercy Center in the late 1980's. She shares her passion for leadership development and spirituality. Mary's background includes sixteen years in elected leadership with the Sisters of Mercy. During that time she also served a three-year term in the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Suzanne Buckley was director of Mercy Center until her retirement in 2019. She has been a campus minister, spiritual director, educator, and trainer of spiritual directors. Suzanne has worked with a variety of formation programs since 1992 including the Summer Internship for Spiritual Direction, and is the editor of the award-winning book Sacred is the Call: Formation and Transformation in Spiritual Direction Programs (Crossroad 2005).



Fr. Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R. was the teacher of the East-West Meditation program for more than 12 years. Fr. Greg is a Redemptorist priest and Associate Roshi of the Sanbô-Kyôdan Religious Foundation in Kamakura, Japan. In 2010 he received full transmission as an Authentic Zen Master with the honorific title of Roshi from his teacher, Willigis Jaeger. He is the award-winning author of the book Listen to the Desert: The Secrets of Spiritual Maturity in the Desert Fathers and Mothers.



Please contact administrative staff at (650) 340-7474, or click their names to send an email inquiry.

Cristina Esguerra: Campus Hospitality Services Supervisor

Brittany Soracco: Program and Projects Administrator

Mark Werlin: Webmaster and Online Registration Systems



We honor the creativity, professionalism, organizational skill and commitment of our housekeeping and kitchen staff. Without them, we could not offer our ministry of hospitality. Read profiles of Environmental Services Manager Rita Moser and interior design specialist Catherine Wilkinson.



We are grateful for the many volunteers who help with programs and special events at Mercy Center. Please contact Cristina Esguerra if you would like to join our volunteer community.