Heritage of Mercy Education
In 1854, eight young Sisters of Mercy, led by Mother Mary Baptist Russell, left the seaport of Kinsale, Ireland for San Francisco. By 1857, the Sisters had established St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco and in 1924, they purchased the Kohl Mansion in Burlingame which became the Motherhouse. In 1931, the Sisters opened their first Catholic high school, Mercy Burlingame, in the Kohl Mansion. Since the founding of the school, more than 8,000 young women have graduated from Mercy. Mercy has grown tremendously over the past 85 years and, today, more than 375 students and 80 faculty and staff members form the Mercy community.
The Sisters of Mercy are an international Catholic religious order of women who influence and serve in education, healthcare, low-income housing, social services, social justice, and advocacy work. As part of Mercy Education System of the Americas (MESA), our school is connected to a global network of 40 high schools, 20 elementary schools, and 17 Universities and Colleges sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy.
- Spiritual Growth and Development
- Educational Excellence
- Special concern for the poor, especially women and children
- Compassion and Service
Most recently the Sisters have asked their ministries to provide education and outreach programs in five areas they have called the Critical Concerns. Through the Critical Concerns we have been asked to focus on issues concerning women, non violence, racism, immigration and the earth.
Notable Mercy Figures
On September 24, 1827, the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, Catherine McAuley opened the House of Mercy (now Mercy International Centre) in Dublin, Ireland. She used her sizable inheritance to build the House of Mercy as a safe shelter and place of education for young women who came to Dublin from the surrounding countryside seeking employment. Unknowingly, Catherine McAuley planted the seeds of a new religious congregation.
On December 12, 1831, after completing her novitiate with the Sisters of the Presentation, Catherine pronounced her vows as the first Sister of Mercy. Sisters of Mercy who minister throughout the world to persons who are poor, sick and uneducated celebrate this as their Foundation Day.
In 1854, 25-year old Mother Mary Baptist Russell led a band of eight Sisters of Mercy from their home in Kinsale, Ireland to San Francisco to create the first Mercy community in California. Mary Baptist created numerous social service institutions that were critical to San Francisco’s social safety net, including orphanages, hospitals, employment centers, and schools, many of which are still in operation.
Her compassion for the sick and poor, and her dedication for women’s education, live on in Mercy High School Burlingame’s core values.
The Sisters of Mercy from California to Michigan have begun a new Mercy moment. The six former regional communities are now the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas-West Midwest. While the West Midwest Community central administrative center is in Omaha, Nebraska, sisters and associates continue their ministries in their respective geographical areas. They serve in 32 states and four countries.
Animated by the Gospel and Catherine McAuley’s passion for the poor, we, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, are impelled to commit our lives and resources to act in solidarity with:
- the economically poor of the world, especially women and children;
- women seeking fullness of life and equality in church and society;
- one another as we embrace our multicultural and international reality.
This commitment will impel us to develop and act from a multicultural and international perspective;
- speak with a corporate voice;
- work for systemic change; practice non-violence;
- act in harmony and interdependence with all creation;
- and call ourselves to continual conversion in our lifestyle and ministries.