Dunedin / Ōtepoti

The Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop Patrick Moran, wanted a religious order of women to set up a community in the Diocese of Dunedin.

He was worried that there was no one to visit sick people in their homes and in the hospital, to look after orphaned children, and to teach Catholic children about God.

He asked the Sisters of Mercy if they would send a group of Sisters to live and work in Gore. So six Sisters set sail from Carrick on Suir in Ireland on 17 January, 1890 and arrived in Bluff on 10 March 1890.

The first Sisters of Mercy Community in Gore in 1896. Mother M Brigid, Mother M. Patricia, Sister Alphonsus, Sister Josephine, Sister Gertrude, Sister Rose.

The first Sisters of Mercy Community in Gore in 1896. Mother M Brigid, Mother M. Patricia, Sister Alphonsus, Sister Josephine, Sister Gertrude, Sister Rose.

These first Sisters of Mercy to arrive in the Diocese of Dunedin were:
Sr Alacoque Ryan, Sr Agnes Ryan, Mother Patrick, Mother Brigid Murtagh, Kate Healey (who later became known as Sr Mary Patricia) and Bridget Doyle (who later became known as Sr Mary Columba). They soon settled into their new Convent in Gore.

The Sisters immediately took charge of teaching the children of the area. While they waited for a school to be built, the Sisters taught the primary children in the Town Hall, and the secondary children in a room in their convent. The Sisters were very pleased when St Mary’s School was opened in October 1890.

The new Bishop of Dunedin, Bishop Verdon, wanted more Sisters of Mercy to live and work in Dunedin. So, he asked a community of Mercy Sisters in Australia for help. Eight Sisters agreed to travel to New Zealand to live and work in Dunedin. On 17 January 1897, eight new Sisters of Mercy arrived in Port Chalmers to begin working in the community.

These Sisters were Mother Kostka, Mother Augustine, Sr Imelda, Sr Bertrand, Sr Clare, Sr Teresa, and Sr Berchmans. Mother Stanislaus travelled with the Sisters to help them settle into their new home in Dunedin. She then returned to Australia.

The Mercy community in Gore soon joined the Dunedin community to become one community, and together they worked very hard for the people in Dunedin and around Otago and Southland; visiting sick people in their homes and in hospital, caring for orphans, visiting people in jail, and opening many Mercy schools all over the Diocese:

Sisters of Mercy also taught at Moreau College and at Kavanagh College in Dunedin.

As the city of Dunedin grew bigger, the Sisters wanted to do more to help sick people. So the Sisters decided to open their own hospital, and they named it ‘Mercy Hospital’.

The above is an abridged version of the full text. For the full text please read: The History of The Sisters of Mercy in the Dunedin Diocese.