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Our Story

Catherine's father died when she was five years old, having instilled in his daughter, strong Catholic, Christian virtues, especially compassion for the poor. Against 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. Other women joined the group and on December 12th 1831, Catherine, Anna Maria and Elizabeth Byrne made their Vows as religious 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’. 


The 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.

Special Dates for Associates

  • 24th Sep - Novena for Our Lady of Mercy

  • 29th Sep - Catherine McAuley's Early Years

  • 11th Nov - Catherine McAuley's Death  

  • 12th Dec - Foundation Day of Sisters of Mercy

  • Advent & Christmas

  • Lent & Easter

  • Pentecost

Sisters of Mercy and their Associates draw on the inspiration of Catherine McAuley, their foundress, who began her work with poor women in the first House of Mercy in Dublin in 1827. Catherine's deep faith in God who is Mercy, and her experience of the pain of poverty, shaped her prayer and in turn her prayer shaped her ministry.

Today, as Sisters of Mercy and Associates, we commit ourselves to a life long journey of discovery of the Mercy of God, which is so often found in the lives and struggles of the suffering and the poor. On this journey we begin to understand our own poverty and our need for God's Mercy. We seek the face of God who is merciful and we try to live in a way that reflects this awareness.

The spiritual and corporal works of mercy hold a special place in the tradition of Roman Catholicism. Persons hunger for food to nourish mind and spirit as well as body. Persons seek healing of bodily wounds which affect the spirit and spiritual wounds which affect the body.

As associates of Mercy, we commit ourselves to exercise the spiritual and corporal works of mercy revealed to us through the life of Jesus. Enriched by his love, healed by his mercy and taught by his word, we serve the poor, sick and uneducated.

"The spirit of prayer and retreat should be most dear to us, yet such a spirit as would never withdraw us from these works of mercy"

Catherine McAuley

"If the love of God really reigns in your heart, it will quickly show itself in the exterior"

Catherine McAuley

"We ought to have great confidence in God in the discharge of our works of Mercy – the business of our lives "

Catherine McAuley

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