The Religious Sisters of Mercy (R.S.M.) are members of a religious institute of Catholic women founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland by Catherine McAuley (1778–1841). In 2003 the institute had about 11,000 members worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations. They also started many schools around the globe.
The Sisters of Mercy institute began when Catherine McAuley used an inherited fortune to build a "House of Mercy" in Dublin that provided educational, religious, and social services for poor women and children. The House aroused much local opposition, however, it being traditional for nuns rather than lay women to engage in this sort of activity. Eventually the church hierarchy agreed to the formation of a non-cloistered institute, and the sisters became known informally as the 'walking nuns' for their ability to care for the poor outside a convent. The house still sits today, as the Mercy International Centre.
Catherine McAuley and two associates made their novitiate with the Presentation Sisters. Now known as Sister Mary Catherine, she was appointed first superior of the new congregation, an office which she held for the remainder of her life. The rule and constitutions of the congregation were not completed until 1834, nor approved until 1835, yet they contained in substance only that which had been observed from the year 1827. The basis of the rule was that of St. Austin although circumstances required many alterations before its approval.
Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) was the first place outside Dublin in which a house of the congregation was opened. In 1838 at the suggestion of Rev. Peter Butler of Bermondsey, some English ladies came to Ireland to serve a novitiate for the purpose of introducing the congregation into England. Upon their return, Mother M. Clare Moore was appointed the superior of the Bermondsey Convent.
In May 1842, at the request of Bishop Fleming, a small colony of Sisters of Mercy crossed the Atlantic to found the congregation at St. John's, Newfoundland. The sisters arrived in Perth, Australia in 1846, and three years later, a band from Carlow arrived in New Zealand. In Sydney they opened schools and a servants' home. Sisters from Limerick opened a house in Glasgow in 1849, and in 1868 the English community established a house in Guernsey.
In 1992 the leaders of the various congregations created the Mercy International Association to foster collaboration and cooperation. The purpose of the association is to provide support and foster collaboration, organisation and inspiration for the ministries of the Sisters of Mercy and their associates.
On December 12, 2011, 14 of the 17 independent congregations in Australia and Papua New Guinea of the Sisters of Mercy combined to form a congregation numbering some 920 sisters.
Vows and activities
Sisters of Mercy is an international community of Roman Catholic women religious vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education with a special concern for women and children. Members take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the evangelical counsels commonly vowed in religious life, and, in addition, vows of service. They continue to participate in the life of the surrounding community. In keeping with their mission of serving the poor and needy, many sisters engage in teaching, medical care, and community programs. The organization is active in lobbying and politics.
The Sisters of Mercy are constituted as religious and charitable organizations in a number of countries. Mercy International Association is a registered charity in the Republic of Ireland. In the United Kingdom, The Union of the Sisters of Mercy of Great Britain is a registered charity, and in 2006–2007 had a gross income of £5.5 million.
On May 20, 2009, the institute was condemned in an Irish government report known as the Ryan Report, the work of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. The Sisters of Mercy were named as the chief among the institutes under whose care girls "endured frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless ... personal and family denigration was widespread".St. Catherine Academy, Belize CityAcademy of Our Lady of Mercy, St. John's, NewfoundlandSt. Augustine’s Elementary School, St. John's, NewfoundlandSt. Bride's College, St. John's, Newfoundland
IrelandSacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, County CorkCarysfort College, DublinConvent of Mercy, Ballymahon, County LongfordConvent of Mercy, Navan, County MeathConvent of Mercy, Templemore, County TipperaryMary Immaculate College, LimerickMercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, County KerryMount Mercy College, Cork City, CorkMount Saint Michael's Secondary school, County MayoOur Lady of Mercy Secondary School, LongfordOur Lady of Mercy Secondary School, WaterfordSacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, County OffalySancta Maria College, Ballyroan, DublinSt Anne's Technical School, Kilcormac (1932–1965), County OffalyOur Lady's Secondary School, Castleblayney, MonaghanSt. Joseph's National School, Tullamore, County OffalySt Joseph's Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, County WestmeathSt Leo's College, CarlowSt Mary's College, Arklow, County WicklowSt Mary's College Naas, County KildareSt. Mary's Secondary School, Charleville, County CorkSt Vincent's Secondary School, Dundalk, County LouthScoil an Spioraid Naoimh, County CorkColáiste Íosagáin, County DublinConvent of Mercy "Alpha" Academy, KingstonSt. John Bosco Boys Home, Mandeville
In 1849 Bishop Pompallier visited St Leo's Convent in Carlow, Ireland, seeking nuns to emigrate; eight left from St Leo's, led by Mother Mary Cecilia. They travelled to New Zealand, learning Māori along the way, establishing the Sisters of Mercy in Auckland as the first female religious community in New Zealand in 1850.Carmel College, Milford, AucklandHoly Cross School, Papatoetoe, AucklandMoreau College, DunedinMcAuley High School, Otahuhu, AucklandOur Lady of the Sacred Heart School, Epsom, AucklandPompallier Catholic School, KaitaiaSacred Heart Cathedral School, Thorndon, WellingtonSt Bernard's School, WellingtonSt Catherine's College, WellingtonSt Josephs School, Takapuna, AucklandSt Mary's College, AucklandSt Mary's College, ChristchurchSt Mary's College, WellingtonSt Mary's School, Avondale, AucklandSt Mary's in the City Primary School, ChristchurchSt Mary's Primary School, GoreSt Peter's College, GoreSt Philomena's College, DunedinVilla Maria College, ChristchurchBroughton Hall High School, LiverpoolMaricourt Catholic High School, MaghullMount Lourdes Grammar School, Enniskillen, Co. FermanaghOur Lady's Abingdon, Abingdon-on-ThamesOur Lady's Grammar School, Newry, Co. Down, Northern IrelandStar of the Sea Primary School, Warrenpoint, Co. Down, Northern IrelandSt Anthony's Girls' Catholic Academy, SunderlandSt. Catherine's School, TwickenhamSt Edward's, Lisson Grove, Marylebone, LondonSt Eugene's Senior School, Francis St., Derry, Northern IrelandSt Eugene's Infant School, Francis St., Derry, Northern IrelandThornhill College, Culmore, DerrySt Fanchea's College, Enniskillen, Fermangah, Northern IrelandSt. Joseph's Convent Preparatory School, GravesendSt. Joseph's Primary School, Newry, Co. Down, Northern IrelandSt Joseph's Convent School, Crackley, Kenilworth, WarwickshireSt. Joseph's Convent School, Wanstead, East LondonSt Joseph's In The Park, Hertingfordbury Park, HertfordSt Joseph's Park Hill School, BurnleySt. Patrick's School (Wolverhampton), WolverhamptonSt. Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, HatfieldSt Ursula's School, BristolThe McAuley Catholic High School, DoncasterHoly Family Catholic Primary SchoolChrist the Teacher Catholic School, Newark, DelawareMount Saint Mary High School, Oklahoma City, OklahomaMercymount Country Day School, Cumberland, Rhode IslandOur Lady of Mercy, Hicksville, New YorkOur Lady of Mount Carmel Regional School, Berlin, New JerseySaint John The Baptist elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, New Bedford, MassachusettsSt. Vincent De Paul elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, San Diego, CaliforniaSaint John The Apostle elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, Hialeah, FloridaAcademy of Our Lady of Mercy:Lauralton Hall, Milford, ConnecticutAssumption High School, Louisville, KentuckyBishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, MassachusettsBishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, Riverhead, New YorkCatherine McAuley High School, Brooklyn, New YorkCatherine McAuley High School, Portland, MaineCristo Rey High School, Sacramento, California (co-sponsored with the California Province of the Society of Jesus)Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, Lower Gwynedd Township, PennsylvaniaMarquette High School, Ottawa, Illinois (originally St. Xavier's Academy)McAuley Catholic High School, Joplin, MissouriMcAuley High School, Cincinnati, OhioMercy Academy, Louisville, KentuckyMercy High School, Baltimore, MarylandMercy High School, Burlingame, CaliforniaMercy High School, Farmington Hills, MichiganMercy High School, Middletown, ConnecticutMercy High School, Omaha, NebraskaMercy High School, Red Bluff, CaliforniaMercy High School, San Francisco, CaliforniaMercy Montessori Center, Cincinnati, OhioMercyhurst Preparatory School, Erie, PennsylvaniaMercymount Country Day School, Cumberland, Rhode IslandMerion Mercy Academy, Merion Station, PennsylvaniaMother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Chicago, IllinoisMother of Mercy High School, Cincinnati, OhioMount de Sales Academy, Macon, GeorgiaMount Mercy Academy, Buffalo, New YorkMount St. Mary Academy, Little Rock, ArkansasMount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, New JerseyMount St. Mary High School, OklahomaNotre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, New JerseyOur Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset, New YorkOur Lady of Mercy High School, Rochester, New YorkOur Lady of Victory Academy, Dobbs Ferry, New YorkSacred Heart School, Jacksonville, FloridaSacred Heart School, Hattiesburg, MississippiSaint Bernard Academy, Nashville, TennesseeSt. Mary Academy - Bay View, East Providence, Rhode IslandSaint Raymond of Penafort, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaSt.Catharine Academy , Bronx, New York *Saint Stephen School, San Francisco, CaliforniaSt. Vincent's Academy, Savannah, GeorgiaSisters Academy, Asbury Park, New JerseyWalsingham Academy, Williamsburg, Virginia
Colleges and universitiesCarlow University, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCollege of St. Mary, Omaha, NebraskaGeorgian Court University, Lakewood, New JerseyGwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley, PennsylvaniaMaria College, Albany, New YorkMarian Court College, Swampscott, MassachusettsMercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New YorkMercy College of Northwest Ohio, Toledo, OhioMercy School of Health Sciences, Des Moines, IowaMercyhurst University, Erie, PennsylvaniaMisericordia University, Dallas, PennsylvaniaMount Aloysius College, Cresson, PennsylvaniaMount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, IowaSaint Joseph's College of Maine, Standish, MaineSaint Xavier University, Chicago, IllinoisSalve Regina University, Newport, Rhode IslandTrocaire College, Buffalo, New YorkUniversity of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Michigan (previously Mercy College of Detroit; University co-sponsored with Society of Jesus)University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, Connecticut
DefunctMount Saint Agnes College (merged with Loyola University Maryland)Mount Saint Mary's Seminary High School (merged with Bishop Guertin High School), Nashua NHTrinity College (merged with University of Vermont), Burlington, VT