The Founding of Mercy

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Catherine McAuley

“Remember Me Affectionately To All”
Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy

These words of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, unite all of us. Through works of charity, prayer, service, and philanthropic support, we enable Mercy to be a strong and vibrant force for good in our community.

Catherine McAuley was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1778. She found herself unexpectedly wealthy in her 40s after receiving a bequest from a family for which she cared. With this inheritance, she was able to launch the projects she had long envisioned: first, to educate and care for the poor; and second, to provide a residence called the House of Mercy, which opened on the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, September 24, 1827, to serve women and children.

When Catherine passed away in 1841, there were as many as 150 Sisters of Mercy. Small groups of Sisters left Ireland to serve the needs of those in various other countries, including the United States. In November of 1874, six Sisters of Mercy arrived in Baltimore to take charge of the Baltimore City Hospital health dispensary—a modest establishment meant to care for the poor and destitute. The health dispensary blossomed under the effective nursing care and leadership of the Sisters, who were guided by Catherine’s legacy.

In 1909, the Baltimore City Hospital’s name changed to Mercy Hospital. In 1988, we became Mercy Medical Center, and in 1998, with the addition of Stella Maris—Maryland’s largest long-term care facility—our entire health care system became known as Mercy Health Services.

Today, Catherine’s work continues. At Mercy, we celebrate lives touched and made stronger, relationships healed and deepened, life valued from its beginning to its end. Catherine was confident that God’s merciful work would endure through us … and it has and will continue because of our donors and their transformational generosity.


Why Your Gift Matters

Donations of your time, talents and treasure have a huge impact on the important work being done at Mercy. As a cherished donor, you play an essential role in supporting the health of our shared community.