The Sisters of Mercy grew into a religious order out of the modest vision of Catherine McAuley, who built the House of Mercy to welcome and educate poor, neglected and abused girls and women in 19th century Dublin, Ireland. The house opened on the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, September 24, 1827.
Rededicated in 1994, that house is now Mercy International Centre, and remains a homestead for the largest English-speaking religious order in the world with some 10,000 vowed members.
On December 10, 1843, Mother McAuley’s protégé Sister Frances Warde landed in America and traveled to Pittsburgh, PA, where she founded the Convent of Mercy. Her pioneering brought schools, hospitals, and colleges across the country in one of the great chapters of church history.
Sisters of Mercy travelled to Titusville, PA, in 1870 and to the city of Erie, PA, in 1917. Convinced of the need to educate girls and women, Mother Borgia Egan founded Mercyhurst Seminary for Girls and College in 1926. Both are now separate coeducational schools, Mercyhurst Preparatory School and Mercyhurst University.
In 1991, the Sisters of Mercy in the Americas formed The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas headquartered in Silver Spring, MD.
The Sisters of Mercy hold higher education to be integral to the Church’s mission and an unparalleled instrument for bringing Mercy to the world. Their 16 colleges and universities in the United States are committed to the pursuit of truth and knowledge and to furthering the well being of women and men.
The Conference for Mercy Higher Education aims to preserve and develop the core Catholic and Mercy identity in higher education in accord with the spirit, mission, and heritage of the Sisters of Mercy.
Making Catherine McAuley a Saint
In the Catholic Christian tradition, the Church recognizes sainthood whenever witness is given to a person know to be exceptionally holy. Many stories, along with the writings, of Catherine McAuley have prompted a call for her canonization.