Argentina

From Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Adelaide, Australia, and Back Again

The Argentine community was founded from Dublin in 1856. Mother Mary Evangelist Fitzpatrick and seven other sisters arrived on February 24, and on that day, they were put in charge of the hospital for Irish immigrants.

In 1880 an increasingly violent political climate, the death of many sisters, and the withdrawal of moral and financial support motivated Mother Evangelista to leave Buenos Aires with her community of 24 sisters and to accept the invitation to establish a Mercy foundation in Adelaide, Australia.

Ten years later, aware that the political climate had changed and that the Irish community was prepared to resume their support, Mother Baptist MacDonnell responded to the Archbishop’s plea to return to Buenos Aires. The group of six sisters now included Irish, Australians and Argentines. They immediately set about serving those in need of education and those who were sick and impoverished, with special attention to women and children.

In the 1950s, once again beset by widespread religious persecution, dwindling resources and few new vocations and encouraged by a Vatican visitation, sisters sought to join another Mercy group. They were accepted by Mother Mary Regina Cunningham into the Union of the Sisters of Mercy: Detroit Province (Michigan).

Guided by the wisdom of Sisters Bernadette O’Leary and Isabel McDermott, the richness of this mutual sharing of relationships, culture and resources paved the way for entering into the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas in 1991 and in the new Community of CCASA (Caribbean, Central America and South America) in 2009.

Parallel to these structural changes was a re-discovery of the spirit of Catherine McAuley and the emergence of new ministries on the margins, with a deepening of a preferential option for the poor. Today sisters and associates in Argentina have as a primary focus the empowering of women, the struggle against violence in all its forms, and the accompaniment of children and youth in traditional educational settings, in neighborhood projects and in centers for women. Click here for a list of ministries.