Catherine McCauley: Founder Of Mercy Order Of Nuns In 1831
The foundation set up by Catherine McAuley on 12 th December 1831 was called the ‘Sisters Of Mercy’ and developed internationally to become the largest religious congregation of women in the English speaking world. The ideals and aspirations set out in her memorandum only sought to help the needy and poor in society throughout the world. Care and human consideration was her prime criteria amongst the majority who followed Catherine into the Mercy order.
The founder was born at Stormanstown House, Santry, Co. Dublin, on 29 th September 1778.She suffered the huge trauma of losing both her parents, whilst still a very young child, and she was adopted by the Callaghan family of Coolock, Co. Dublin.She lived a happy and contented childhood and her new foster parents were very well endowed financially.
On the death of the Callaghans in 1822, Catherine, aged forty four, inherited a large fortune, and by this time she had become a deeply religious woman and hadvisions for a new life helping reform attitudes of society.
She professed charity and care of those in need and these founding principles were wholly adopted by the sisters who followed her into the new religious order.
From her large inheritance she allocated substantial monies for the founding of a special school and hostel for working mums, whose children would use the facility. The premises was located at Lower Baggot Street, Dublin.
In 1829 she now decided, at the age of fifty one, to enter the Presentation Sisters at Grange’s Hill and took her vows in 1831.
Soon after she financed herself to pioneer a new order for religious women called the ‘Sisters of Mercy.
The main objectives would be educating poor girls, caring for poor women, visiting the sick and spreading the word of God.
During her short life as a nun of just twelve years, the Dublin born missionary established a total of fifteen Mercy Convents in various parts of Ireland.
Under her spiritual guidance the Mercy Order spread internationally with convents all around the world and young women all eager to enter the Mercy Order of Nuns in different continents.
In Ireland Mercy Convents abounded in all of the 32 counties. Towns, large and small, were building new convents to cater for education of children from all backgrounds. The pioneering work of the Dublin founder left a huge legacy of goodwill and as the centuries expanded, the original etoss of the founder became a source of concern for thousands of Irish people around the globe.
Catherine McCauley, Famous Daughter of Ireland, died on 10 th November 1841, aged just sixty three years.
Catherine McCauley is buried in the convent grounds of the Mercy Order in Baggott Street, Dublin