Caribbean, Central America, South America
The history of CCASA (Caribbean, Central America, South America) is as diverse as the cultures of the eight countries that came together on July 1, 2009, to form a Community (Province) of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Sisters arrived from Dublin, Ireland in 1856 to accompany poor Irish immigrants in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1883 the New Orleans, Louisiana foundation sent sisters to British Honduras (Belize) where they immediately opened schools and visited the sick, poor and those in prison. In 1894 two English sisters and a Guyanese woman began their education ministry in British Guiana, and soon Sisters of Mercy were ministering to remote and indigenous settlements along the Guyanese rivers. In the late 1950s the Church issued a call for more religious to go to Latin America. U.S. sisters responded from Brooklyn, New York (Panama, 1959); Providence, Rhode Island, Chicago, Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska (Sicuani, Peru,1961); British Honduras and Providence, Rhode Island (Honduras, 1959); Burlingame, California (Puno, Peru, 1964); Rochester, New York (Chile, 1965); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Chimbote, Peru 1967); Connecticut (Guatemala, 1971); and Merion, Pennsylvania (Chulucanas, Peru, 1984).
What each group had in common was the intense desire, rooted in the Gospel of Jesus and in the legacy of our founder Catherine McAuley, to reach out in mercy to those most in need. From the first sisters who traveled the rivers of Guyana to those sisters arriving in Pacaipampa, Chulucanas, Peru by bestia ("miniature horses"), the story is one of responding to immediate needs in the areas of education, health, pastoral and social services, and spiritual development – always with special attention to those living in poverty and/or on the margins of society.