Catherine McAuley

Catherine McAuleyCatherine McAuley lived in Ireland in the 1800s.  She loved God very much, and she prayed everyday.

Catherine McAuley was sad to see so many young women with no place to live.  She saw children with no clothes or shoes to wear and some children did not have enough food to eat. She also saw young women with no jobs, and young children too poor to go to school.

When Catherine McAuley was left an inheritance, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with the money. She built a large house in Baggot Street, in Dublin.  She called the new house the House of Mercy.

The bronze shows Catherine as a Sister of Mercy, offering help to a young mother with her baby.

The bronze shows Catherine
as a Sister of Mercy, offering help to a young mother with her baby.

The House of Mercy was a very special house and a very busy place!

Soon other young women came to help Catherine.

Catherine and her team of helpers did a lot of things to help other people:

  • They cared for children who had no parents
  • They cared for young women who had no where to live
  • They set up a school for poor children
  • They cared for people who were sick and dying

Catherine built the House of Mercy in Baggot Street where many rich people lived.  She did this so the rich people would notice the poor people and realise how hard it was to live in Dublin with no money.  Those rich people watched Catherine helping the poor people; giving young women and children somewhere warm to sleep, giving them food to eat, and teaching the children how to read and write.   Some of the rich families wanted to help too, so they gave Catherine money and also gave some of the poor women jobs so they could earn their own money.

 Bronze of Catherine McAuley by US Sister of Mercy Marie Henderson.


Bronze of Catherine McAuley by US Sister of Mercy Marie Henderson.

Catherine knew that this is what God wanted her to do.

Catherine decided that she and her many helpers would became Sisters of Mercy. They wore long black gowns and hats so people knew who they were.

The Sisters of Mercy promised God that they would help to look after sick and poor people in their community and that they would provide education for children and young women. In Ireland at this time, nuns spent all their time in convents, but the Sisters of Mercy became known as the “walking Sisters” because they were always out and about in the community.

Today there are still many Sisters of Mercy all around the world helping people. To find out more visit www.sistersofmercy.org.nz or www.mercyworld.org

How can Catherine McAuley inspire us?

Painting of Catherine McAuley by Cloy Kent, commissioned in 1981 by the Cedar Rapids Regional Community of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Painting of Catherine McAuley by Cloy Kent, commissioned in 1981 by the Cedar Rapids Regional Community of Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

Catherine McAuley was special because she loved God so much. She prayed and spent all her time helping others and leading others to God.

Throughout her whole life, Catherine kept listening to God and doing what God was asking her to do.

When Catherine was left a large amount of money, she became very rich.

She could have spent the rest of her life living in a big house, buying lots of pretty things and enjoying many holidays. But Catherine knew that God wanted her to spend her life helping the poor. She knew that God wanted her to spend her money to give poor people a home to live, good food to eat, clothes to wear, and to teach them about God.

Sr Peg talks about Catherine McAuley – part one

Sr Peg talks about Catherine McAuley – part two

To learn more about the Mercy Story visit the links below:

Catherine McAuley: Quotations