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Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy were founded by an Irish woman, Catherine McAuley, in 1831. At the age of 44 Catherine came into a sizeable inheritance and used it to establish a house for the poor in the centre of Dublin. Catherine resolved to find new ways to help the needy. In December 1831 she was professed as a Religious Sister and founded the Sisters of Mercy to ensure the continuation of the works she initiated as a laywoman.

Catherine McAuley was particularly committed to women and children, the sick and dying. Her approach to her mission was characterised by innovation, collaboration and high professionalism. She wanted to meet the needs that nobody else was addressing. She realised that her sisters needed to work in partnership with others to achieve the best results. She believed in doing everything well and in providing the very best of services.

Unlike other religious groups of that period, the Sisters of Mercy took their mission to those in need. They went out from their convent into prisons, hospitals, and homes offering care and support. As nurses, social workers and teachers, these “walking nuns”—as they came to be known—brought care, solace and inspiration into thousands of homes and lives.

In May 1861 Mother Mary Vincent Whitty arrived in Australia from Ireland with a vision to continue the work of Mercy that had seen the establishment of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin. She, along with other Sisters of Mercy, pledged to care for the sick and needy.

In establishing the values of Mercy, Dignity, Quality, Commitment and Care upon which Mater staff base their service standards, the Sisters of Mercy offer substantial guidance and support. As we move forward and tackle new challenges, we carry with us our traditional values and a strong sense of identity that has been developed through a very proud history of devotion and generosity.