Sisters of Mercy

History of the Religious Sisters of Mercy

Catherine McAuley was born in comfortable circumstances in Dublin, Ireland, in 1778, and was orphaned and destitute by age 20. She lived with a Quaker couple for almost 20 years as a companion to Mrs. Callaghan; when Mr. Callaghan died he left Catherine most of his estate. She used this inheritance to build a house on Baggot Street in Dublin, to provide education and healthcare to the city's poor, especially women and children. The House of Mercy was officially opened on September 24, 1827, the feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Other women joined Catherine there, and on December 12, 1831 she and two other women professed religious vows, thus founding the Sisters of Mercy.

The charism of Catherine McAuley soon spread across Ireland and England. In 1843, two years after Catherine’s death, Frances Warde led the Sisters of Mercy to the United States. Around the world there are now over 10,000 Sisters of Mercy, members of Institutes based in Ireland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, The Philippines and Newfoundland as well as the United States. Sisters of Mercy live and serve in over 25 countries in the world; members include indigenous women in 12 countries.

The original House of Mercy on Baggot Street is now called Mercy International Centre. It continues to represent the founding spirit of Catherine McAuley and her early companions.

Mercy International Association

The most extensive collaboration among Sisters of Mercy has been the creation of the Mercy International Association in 1992. MIA, an organization of the leaders of Mercy Congregations, Institutes and Federations throughout the world, was founded to serve the Sisters of Mercy, their associates and colleagues in ministry. Sharing Catherine McAuley’s passion to bring mercy to people who are poor, sick and uneducated, its purpose is to inspire collaboration and innovation in ministry in ways creative and appropriate to the needs of our time.

Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are an international community of Roman Catholic women vowed to serve people who suffer poverty, sickness and ignorance, with a special concern for women and children. In innovative and traditional ways they address human needs through collaborative efforts in education, healthcare, housing, and pastoral and social services.

Today the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas numbers approximately 4900 members. These women serve in the United States, Argentina, Belize, Chile, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, The Philippines, Bahamas, El Salvador, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Romania, and Saipan.

Mercy High School is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, South Central Community. Other institutions in the Baltimore area also sponsored or co-sponsored by the Regional Community of Baltimore include the following:

Mercy Medical Center

Stella Maris, Inc.

Marian House

House of Mercy, Inc.

Sisters Academy of Baltimore

Other Related Mercy Sites:

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Mercy Volunteers Corps

Network for Mercy Education