Our Story

Catherine McAuley, Foundress of the
Sisters of Mercy, was born in Dublin in 1778.

Catherine's father died when she was five years old, having instilled in his daughter, strong Catholic, Christian virtues, especially compassion for the poor.

Catherine McAuleyAgainst religious opposition and social adversity, Catherine nurtured her faith and spent much of her life caring first for her own family and later for a Quaker couple, Mr and Mrs Callaghan as well as for the poor.

The Callaghans bequeathed their entire estate to Catherine before they died, convinced she would do great good with it.

Although by then in her late forties, Catherine used the money to build and run a house for the care and education of the poor in Baggot Street, Dublin, a very wealthy area.

On 24th September 1827, she was joined by Anna Maria Doyle one of many women whom Catherine came to call her ‘associates’. Anna Maria suggested calling the building ‘The House of Mercy’ because that date was the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy.

Clock 10 to 8Other women joined the group and on December 12th 1831, Catherine, Anna Maria and Elizabeth Byrne made their Vows as religious Sisters.

The Mercy Congregation spread throughout Ireland and into England during the following 10 years and the Sisters were always supported by generous lay people who associated themselves with the Works of Mercy done by the Sisters.

Today, the Sisters of Mercy continue to need the help of people who are willing to join them in prayer and support their practical compassion for those in need – people who wish to become ‘Mercy Associates’

CrocusesThe Mercy Association is inspired by the Vision of Catherine McAuley.

It is an opportunity for lay people to deepen their own prayer life and spirituality.

The Mercy Association enables lay people to make a whole-hearted and dedicated contribution to the service of the Church and to the spread of the Kingdom of God.

The Mercy Association encourages its Associates to meet regularly; to join together in prayer and share their Mercy vocation with each other.

Mercy is... where there is a need...
Associates are called to unite themselves with Christ under the banner of Mercy, in corporal and spiritual works...
wherever there is a need ...

Find out more about Catherine McAuley's story on the Mercy World website.