Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Sisters of Mercy

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Founded at
Dublin, Ireland

Key people
12 December 1831


Sisters of Mercy

Catholic religious order

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 City
  • Canada

  • Academy of Our Lady of Mercy, St. John's, Newfoundland
  • St. Augustine’s Elementary School, St. John's, Newfoundland
  • St. Bride's College, St. John's, Newfoundland
  • Ireland

  • Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, County Cork
  • Carysfort College, Dublin
  • Convent of Mercy, Ballymahon, County Longford
  • Convent of Mercy, Navan, County Meath
  • Convent of Mercy, Templemore, County Tipperary
  • Mary Immaculate College, Limerick
  • Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, County Kerry
  • Mount Mercy College, Cork City, Cork
  • Mount Saint Michael's Secondary school, County Mayo
  • Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Longford
  • Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School, Waterford
  • Sacred Heart Secondary School, Tullamore, County Offaly
  • Sancta Maria College, Ballyroan, Dublin
  • St Anne's Technical School, Kilcormac (1932–1965), County Offaly
  • Our Lady's Secondary School, Castleblayney, Monaghan
  • St. Joseph's National School, Tullamore, County Offaly
  • St Joseph's Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, County Westmeath
  • St Leo's College, Carlow
  • St Mary's College, Arklow, County Wicklow
  • St Mary's College Naas, County Kildare
  • St. Mary's Secondary School, Charleville, County Cork
  • St Vincent's Secondary School, Dundalk, County Louth
  • Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, County Cork
  • Coláiste Íosagáin, County Dublin
  • Jamaica

  • Convent of Mercy "Alpha" Academy, Kingston
  • St. John Bosco Boys Home, Mandeville
  • New Zealand

    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, Auckland
  • Holy Cross School, Papatoetoe, Auckland
  • Moreau College, Dunedin
  • McAuley High School, Otahuhu, Auckland
  • Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School, Epsom, Auckland
  • Pompallier Catholic School, Kaitaia
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral School, Thorndon, Wellington
  • St Bernard's School, Wellington
  • St Catherine's College, Wellington
  • St Josephs School, Takapuna, Auckland
  • St Mary's College, Auckland
  • St Mary's College, Christchurch
  • St Mary's College, Wellington
  • St Mary's School, Avondale, Auckland
  • St Mary's in the City Primary School, Christchurch
  • St Mary's Primary School, Gore
  • St Peter's College, Gore
  • St Philomena's College, Dunedin
  • Villa Maria College, Christchurch
  • United Kingdom

  • Broughton Hall High School, Liverpool
  • Maricourt Catholic High School, Maghull
  • Mount Lourdes Grammar School, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
  • Our Lady's Abingdon, Abingdon-on-Thames
  • Our Lady's Grammar School, Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
  • Star of the Sea Primary School, Warrenpoint, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
  • St Anthony's Girls' Catholic Academy, Sunderland
  • St. Catherine's School, Twickenham
  • St Edward's, Lisson Grove, Marylebone, London
  • St Eugene's Senior School, Francis St., Derry, Northern Ireland
  • St Eugene's Infant School, Francis St., Derry, Northern Ireland
  • Thornhill College, Culmore, Derry
  • St Fanchea's College, Enniskillen, Fermangah, Northern Ireland
  • St. Joseph's Convent Preparatory School, Gravesend
  • St. Joseph's Primary School, Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
  • St Joseph's Convent School, Crackley, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
  • St. Joseph's Convent School, Wanstead, East London
  • St Joseph's In The Park, Hertingfordbury Park, Hertford
  • St Joseph's Park Hill School, Burnley
  • St. Patrick's School (Wolverhampton), Wolverhampton
  • St. Philip Howard Catholic Primary School, Hatfield
  • St Ursula's School, Bristol
  • The McAuley Catholic High School, Doncaster
  • Holy Family Catholic Primary School
  • United States of America

  • Christ the Teacher Catholic School, Newark, Delaware
  • Mount Saint Mary High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Mercymount Country Day School, Cumberland, Rhode Island
  • Our Lady of Mercy, Hicksville, New York
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Regional School, Berlin, New Jersey
  • Saint John The Baptist elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, New Bedford, Massachusetts
  • St. Vincent De Paul elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, San Diego, California
  • Saint John The Apostle elementary school, kindergarten to eighth grade, Hialeah, Florida
  • Secondary schools

  • Academy of Our Lady of Mercy:Lauralton Hall, Milford, Connecticut
  • Assumption High School, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Bishop Feehan High School, Attleboro, Massachusetts
  • Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, Riverhead, New York
  • Catherine McAuley High School, Brooklyn, New York
  • Catherine McAuley High School, Portland, Maine
  • Cristo Rey High School, Sacramento, California (co-sponsored with the California Province of the Society of Jesus)
  • Gwynedd Mercy Academy High School, Lower Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania
  • Marquette High School, Ottawa, Illinois (originally St. Xavier's Academy)
  • McAuley Catholic High School, Joplin, Missouri
  • McAuley High School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Mercy Academy, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Mercy High School, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Mercy High School, Burlingame, California
  • Mercy High School, Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Mercy High School, Middletown, Connecticut
  • Mercy High School, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Mercy High School, Red Bluff, California
  • Mercy High School, San Francisco, California
  • Mercy Montessori Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Mercymount Country Day School, Cumberland, Rhode Island
  • Merion Mercy Academy, Merion Station, Pennsylvania
  • Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mother of Mercy High School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Mount de Sales Academy, Macon, Georgia
  • Mount Mercy Academy, Buffalo, New York
  • Mount St. Mary Academy, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Mount Saint Mary Academy, Watchung, New Jersey
  • Mount St. Mary High School, Oklahoma
  • Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
  • Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset, New York
  • Our Lady of Mercy High School, Rochester, New York
  • Our Lady of Victory Academy, Dobbs Ferry, New York
  • Sacred Heart School, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Sacred Heart School, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • Saint Bernard Academy, Nashville, Tennessee
  • St. Mary Academy - Bay View, East Providence, Rhode Island
  • Saint Raymond of Penafort, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • St.Catharine Academy , Bronx, New York *Saint Stephen School, San Francisco, California
  • St. Vincent's Academy, Savannah, Georgia
  • Sisters Academy, Asbury Park, New Jersey
  • Walsingham Academy, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Colleges and universities

  • Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • College of St. Mary, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Georgian Court University, Lakewood, New Jersey
  • Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania
  • Maria College, Albany, New York
  • Marian Court College, Swampscott, Massachusetts
  • Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York
  • Mercy College of Northwest Ohio, Toledo, Ohio
  • Mercy School of Health Sciences, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Misericordia University, Dallas, Pennsylvania
  • Mount Aloysius College, Cresson, Pennsylvania
  • Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Saint Joseph's College of Maine, Standish, Maine
  • Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois
  • Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island
  • Trocaire College, Buffalo, New York
  • University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Michigan (previously Mercy College of Detroit; University co-sponsored with Society of Jesus)
  • University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, Connecticut
  • Defunct

  • Mount Saint Agnes College (merged with Loyola University Maryland)
  • Mount Saint Mary's Seminary High School (merged with Bishop Guertin High School), Nashua NH
  • Trinity College (merged with University of Vermont), Burlington, VT
  • References

    Sisters of Mercy Wikipedia