Celebrate Mercy’s Irish Roots

March 16, 2016

By Sister Mary Mulholland

A t-shirt celebrating Mercy’s Irish history.

A t-shirt celebrating Mercy’s Irish history.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!  For me St. Patrick’s Day is a day I celebrate my own cultural heritage, for both my parents were born in Ireland in Westport, County Mayo. I love that bit of Irish in my background, and I am sure each of us cherishes our own heritage from the many countries that make up our history.

But on St. Patrick’s Day we also celebrate our common link to Ireland in Mercy—our connection with Catherine McAuley, beloved founder of the Sisters of Mercy, who was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Catherine was touched deeply by the needs of the poor, the sick and those without life skills there, and she attracted others to work with her as well—and so began the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy!  

Catherine used an inheritance she received to build the House of Mercy on Baggot Street in Dublin in 1827.  Catherine, after being professed as a sister in 1831, then founded the Sisters of Mercy. As the community grew, Catherine and her sisters responded to needs all over Ireland and beyond. Mercy International Association, which is housed there at the Baggot Street House of Mercy, tells us that the Sisters of Mercy are now in over 40 countries across the globe!

This is a very short version of Catherine’s story—a great woman with great trust and confidence in God, a loving heart and spirit and a great sense of humor. As the sisters moved off to the new foundations, we read that Catherine kept in touch with them by visiting when she could, but mostly by writing letters to them to encourage and support them. One we often recall was when she told them to “dance every evening.”

So this St. Patrick’s Day let your hearts (and your legs, too, if you wish) dance to the rhythm of God’s merciful love and goodness within you!

Sonas agus beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

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  1. Katie

    What a wonderful reflection. And I’m ready to dance tomorrow


  2. Suzanne Ryder

    Dear Mary,

    How lovely that your parents were Covies! I hope they were happy in their new home in the US. I lived in Westport for a couple of years in the convent that is now closed and come originally from Ballinrobe, not too far away. Westport is a beautiful town and well worth a visit, should you make the pilgrimage to Baggot Street, some day.

    Blessings on Saint Patrick’s Day,

    Suzanne Ryder rsm


  3. Mary stanton

    Love your message, Mary.


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