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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 91 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.

Core Values of a Mercy Education

Our Core Values are the hallmarks of a Mercy Education. These are the ideals we stand up for and strive to live up to. We hold ourselves to these standards as an institution, as a community and as individuals. Each value is interconnected and necessary as we take Mercy into the world.

  • Compelled By Mercy
  • Educational Courage
  • Inspired By Faith
  • Principled Leadership
  • A Voice For Dignity and Respect 

    For more details, click HERE to visit our Core Values web page. Download our Mission Statement & Core Values Poster HERE.


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.

Learn More about Critical Concerns


Notable Mercy Figures

Catherine McAuley

Catherine McAuley

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. 

Mary Baptist Russell

Mother Mary Baptist Russell

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.

"In God Alone" - Story of Catherine McAuley

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas-West Midwest

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.

Direction Statement

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.

Sisters of Mercy Links

Sisters of Mercy West Midwest
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Mercy International Centre
Mercy Beyond Borders


Mercy High School is a sponsored ministry of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and is a member of the Mercy Education.