About Mercy Catholic College

Catherine McAuley

Born in 1778 at a time when the Penal Laws pressed most severely on Ireland, Catherine’s parents had lost almost all they had possessed, yet her father was a man solely devoted to charity and benevolence.

Despite the little means he possessed he would not turn away any person who applied to him for aid.Catherine, the youngest child, was the chosen messenger in aiding her father in carrying out this mission of mercy. However, tragedy came and death robbed her of her parents at an early age.

Left a considerable fortune by the couple who had adopted her Catherine established a centre in the heart of Dublin to provide education, skills and job opportunities for underprivileged young women. Although she had not intention of founding a religious order the rapid growth of the movement led to the intervention of the Catholic church which insisted that Catherine regularise her group’s work by becoming members of a religious congregation.

At first she was reluctant, but Catherine eventually complied with the church’s wishes and the Sisters of Mercy was established.

Wherever a convent of Mercy opened it was found to be enlikened to "a ray from heaven opening new paths of enlightenment, piety and happiness". These devout, compassionate women would surely have realised amongst themselves that such was the mission of the Sisters of Mercy.

Catherine died in 1841, only ten years after engaging in her special missionary work. She lived long enough to see her convents multiply throughout Ireland, but it was after her death that a greater increase took place. In November, 1865 three Sisters of Mercy landed in Sydney from Liverpool, England, one being Elizabeth McQuoin, later to be Mother Ignatius McQuoin. The following year saw the commencement of records being kept.

Catherine McAuley

In 1883, at the invitation of the Reverend Michael Kelly, S.J. Mercy Sisters from the Convent of Monte Sant’ Angelo at North Sydney went to take charge of the school at Pymble, or as it was then called, Gordon. It was from here that Sisters travelled during the 1890’s to teach at Chatswood.

Today, many thousands of Sisters of Mercy throughout the world carry on Catherine McAuley’s wonderful mission of mercy and benevolence.