In October of 1864, Omaha was little more than a cluster of buildings floating in a mud puddle on the banks of the Missouri River. On October 21, the steamer 'Montana' stopped in Omaha on its regular run up the Missouri. Disembarking that day were seven Sisters of Mercy who were sent by Mother Mary Frances Warde, founding superior in Manchester, New Hampshire, "to provide formal education to the Catholic people of Omaha." The needs stretched beyond the classroom and the sisters in those early years found themselves also assisting the orphaned, the homeless, the hungry, the poor and the ill.
As the Nebraska foundation grew and more young women came to dedicate their lives to Mercy, the scope of the Order's influence widened.
Thirteen independent groups amalgamated in 1929 to form the Omaha Province. In 1991, Omaha joined 24 other Mercy communities to form the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. In 2008, The Omaha Regional Community joined with five other former regions to become the West Midwest Community of the Sisters of Mercy. The administrative offices of the Community are located in Omaha.
Omaha Community Today
Because the needs and ills of God's people are diverse, the Sisters of Mercy work in a variety of ministries. They educate, counsel, conduct retreats and give spiritual direction, work on parish staffs, care for the ill, protect peoples' legal rights, assist the disabled, and run soup kitchens, shelters, and day care centers.
Major Sponsored/Co-Sponsored Ministries
College of Saint Mary (CSM), Omaha, Nebraska. CSM, an affiliated ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, is a private, in-dependent Catholic institution of higher education for women, which integrates a liberal arts component with professional and career preparation. A unique feature at CSM is the Mothers Living and Learning Program, an innovative residential option for single mothers and their children who would like to pursue a college degree full-time while living on campus.
Knowles Mercy Spirituality Center, Waterloo, Nebraska. This spirituality center provides adult formation, ministry formation, and spiritual renewal for individuals and groups.
Mercy Housing, Inc., Denver, Colorado. Mercy Housing began in 1981 and is co-sponsored by eight communities of women religious. The mission of Mercy Housing System is to create and strengthen healthy communities through the provision of quality, affordable, service-enriched housing for individuals and families who are economically poor. Currently Mercy Housing manages over 16,954 units throughout the country and has seven regional offices. Mercy Housing has developed nearly 44,600 homes in 43 states.
Mercy High School, Omaha, Nebraska. Mercy High is a private, Catholic, comprehensive school for girls - enrolling approximately 395 students in college preparatory, business and general education programs. Mercy High fulfills Catherine McAuley’s maxim: “No work of charity can be more productive of good to society or more conducive to the happiness of the poor than the careful instruction of women.”
Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), Denver,Colorado. Formed in 1996, CHI is a national Catholic health organization designed to promote and establish efficient primary care-based communities and consumer-focused health delivery. CHI is the second-largest Catholic health system in the country and one of the largest health care providers in Nebraska