Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Maurice Mercier, November 30, 1990

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Introduction / Education and seminary

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history re--oral history interview, uh, with Mo Mercier of the Christian Appalachian Project.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer, Gil Rosenberg, introduces his interview with CAP director and group home founder Maurice (Mo) Mercier. Mercier discusses his childhood and entrance into the religious brotherhood in the Catholic Church during his teen years. He describes his role at the Center for Christian Living in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Keywords: Childhood; Families; Marlborough (Mass.); Mercier, Maurice; Mercier, Mo; Seminary; Siblings

Subjects: Brothers (Religious); Catholic Church; Christian Appalachian Project; Christian family; Religious education; Religious life; Retreat centers, spiritual

00:06:25 - First experience with Christian Appalachian Program (CAP) / Leaving the religious order

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so from there, where did you go?

Segment Synopsis: Mercier recalls how he became familiar with CAP and came to spend a summer in Kentucky, teaching bible study at St. Claire's Church in Berea, Kentucky and being involved in other activities in the parish. He describes leaving his religious order in Marlborough, Massachusetts in order to begin a group home for teenage boys in Kentucky.

Keywords: Child development; Children; Dispensations (Canon law); Leave of absence; Marlborough (Mass.); Missionary; Parishes; Volunteers

Subjects: Berea (Ky.); Career changes; Christian Appalachian Program; Christianity; Church work; Churches--Kentucky; Religious life

00:10:32 - Finding a property for the CAP Group Home for Boys

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Partial Transcript: And so, in July of 1974, uh, Bob Wick, who was also a volunteer at the time, was to leave to go back home to St. Louis in, uh, January.

Segment Synopsis: Mercier discusses how Bob Wick, Fr. Beiting, and he began their efforts to start a group home for teenage boys. Mercier describes the difficulties they faced in interacting with the residents surrounding Cliffview Lodge (Campton, Kentucky). He recalls how they obtained the property for the group home outside of Camp Nelson (Nicholasville, Kentucky) and the renovations that were done on the property after its purchase. These renovations were done by Nick Smith and his family, volunteers from New York.

Keywords: Communities; Courts; Neighborhoods; Petitions; Renovations; Volunteers

Subjects: Camp Nelson (Ky.); Christian Appalachian Program; Construction; Group homes; Male juvenile delinquents; Volunteer workers in community development

00:18:17 - Prior work with CAP / Establishment of the group home

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Partial Transcript: Well let's stop there, I wanna hop back to, to some of the stuff you mentioned building up to that point. When you first came down with that summer group, who was your contact person or how was that done?

Segment Synopsis: Mercier talks about how he came to bring the first group of volunteers to CAP in 1971. He discusses his contact with Fr. Beiting and his subsequent return to Kentucky in order to join CAP. His relationship with Fr. Beiting, the development and goals of CAP, and Mercier's personal vocation are discussed. The group home's development and the difficulty with the Cliffview Lodge community are also talked about by Mercier.

Keywords: Church works; Communities; Neighborhoods; New England; Vocations; Volunteers

Subjects: Administration; Program management; Religious communities; Religious life

00:29:21 - Operation of the CAP Group Home for Teenage Boys

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so you opened the doors at the group home.

Segment Synopsis: Mercier talks about the first residents of the group home, teenage boys from the surrounding area who had been committed by the Kentucky courts. Mercier also discusses the nature of the help the boys needed from the CAP group home. He describes the purpose of the group home and the personal goals for the boys living in the home. Mercier's marriage in June of 1975 and the origins of his relationship with his wife are discussed.

Keywords: Bible schools; Camps; Frenchburg (Ky.); Home visitations; Mission work; Teenage boys; Volunteers

Subjects: Group homes; Juvenile delinquents; Male juvenile delinquents; Rehabilitation; Teenagers; Young adults

00:36:16 - CAP Group Home staff / Education at the CAP Group Home

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Partial Transcript: So you have--this point, then, you have a staff of three people. Is that right or is there, did you have any auxiliary staff at that point?

Segment Synopsis: Mercier discusses the growth of the staff for the group home over time as the program developed. He also describes the various programs that were added into the existing program for the group home. The evolution of the program and the sacrifices the Mercier family made for the Home are described. Mercier talks about Mrs. Kidney, a teacher who was able to organize the education of the boys in the Home.

Keywords: Asbury College (Wilmore, Ky.); Children; Families; Group homes; Lexington (Ky.); Staffs

Subjects: Education; Education--Kentucky; Educators; Male juvenile delinquents; Religious education of young people

00:42:33 - The average day of a group home resident

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh, at that time, uh, when you just filled up and had eight boys and getting the teacher together, what would the average day of one of the boys be like?

Segment Synopsis: The average day for a boy living in the group home is discussed by Mercier. He describes the behavioral, educational, and vocational goals for each of the boys. The boys worked at the Opportunity Workshop in Lexington, Kentucky. He also mentions their involvement with other parts of the CAP community and their relationship with Asbury College, where the boys were able to earn a Red Cross certification.

Keywords: Alcoholism; Asbury College (Wilmore, Ky.); Behaviors; Counseling; Employment; Lexington (Ky.); Minimum wage; Responsibility; Teenage boys

Subjects: Behavior disorders in adolescence; Community life; Education; Families; Goals for education; Rehabilitation

00:51:37 - Life of the boys after the group home / Flood of 1978

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Partial Transcript: Where did the boys go after they left your home?

Segment Synopsis: The goals and realities of the boys leaving the group home are discussed. Mercier describes the incarceration of some of the boys after they left the home and the overall success rate of the residents. The interviewer asks Mercier about the flood that occurred near the home in 1978 and Mercier discusses his experience at the group home during the flood.

Keywords: Family life; Floods; Group homes; Incarceration

Subjects: Camp Nelson (Ky.); Career changes; Floods--Kentucky; Rehabilitation

00:59:04 - Career after group home / CAP management development

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Partial Transcript: So you mentioned that, uh, in '82 you left the group home, um, to come [unintelligible] in the management team.

Segment Synopsis: Mercier tells of how he became a part of the management team at CAP after leaving the group home. He talks about the difficulties of organizing CAP and its various programs. Mercier's role on the team, as well as his work with the other members of the team and Fr. Beiting, are talked about. He also discusses the various programs that were started during his time on the management team at CAP as well as those that were maintained. The Board of Directors was also established during this time of organization at CAP. Mercier discusses the relationship between the board, the management team, and Fr. Beiting.

Keywords: Lancaster (Ky.); Leadership; Managements; Organization; Planning; Responsibilities

Subjects: Career change; Development leadership; Financial management; Organizational change; Project management; Social service, Rural

01:17:19 - CAP management team activities

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Partial Transcript: So you talked a little bit about, as being management coming in for the first time, you were setting up framework.

Segment Synopsis: Mercier talks about the daily activities, goals, and responsibilities that were laid out and accomplished by Mercier and his team. He discusses their state funding, goal development, and the increased guidelines for CAP in order to create a more successful organization. These guidelines assisted with failure prevention in program creation and hiring. Mercier also talks about the use of outside consultation for CAP programs and the individual departments within.

Keywords: Child development; Fund raising; Group homes; Management; Planning

Subjects: Communication in organizations; Management committees; Organizational and management innovation; Organizational effectiveness; Social service consultants