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 women and children in need. The House of Mercy 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, founding the Sisters of Mercy.
The Mercy charism soon spread throughout Ireland and England and two years after Catherine’s death in 1841, Frances Warde led the Sisters of Mercy to the United States. In 1867, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Baltimore and established the Mount Saint Agnes High School and college.
Founded in 1960, Mercy High School is an independent, Catholic, college preparatory school sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy. We educate bright and creative girls in grades 9 through 12 and instill a commitment to excellence, hospitality, service, justice, and compassion. We are sponsored by the Mercy Education System of the Americas. Other ministries in the Baltimore area sponsored or co-sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy include Mercy Medical Center
, Stella Maris
, Marian House
, and Sisters Academy of Baltimore
Today, the Sisters of Mercy live and serve in more than 25 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and throughout the Caribbean. The House on Baggot Street, now called the Mercy International Centre
, continues to represent the founding spirit of Catherine McAuley and her earliest companions.