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The Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy (RSM) is an order of Catholic women founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker in 1831. , the order has about 10,000 members worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations.

Vows and activities

Sisters take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the evangelical counsels commonly vowed in religious life, and, in addition, vows of service. They continue to participate in the life of the surrounding community. In keeping with their mission of serving the poor and needy, many sisters engage in teaching, medical care, and community programs. The organization is active in lobbying and politics as well.


The order began when McAuley used an inherited fortune to build a "House of Mercy" in Dublin that provided educational, religious, and social services for poor women and children. The House aroused local opposition, however, it being traditional for nuns rather than lay women to engage in this sort of activity. Eventually the church hierarchy agreed to the formation of a non-cloistered order, and the sisters became known informally as the "walking nuns" for their ability to care for the poor outside a convent. The house still stands today, as the Mercy International Centre.

In 1992, the leaders of the various congregations created the Mercy International Association to foster collaboration and cooperation. The purpose of the Association is to provide support and foster collaboration, organisation and inspiration for the ministries of Sisters of Mercy and their associates.


The Sisters of Mercy are constituted as religious and charitable organizations in a number of countries. Mercy International Association is a registered charity in the Republic of Ireland. In the United Kingdom, The Union of the Sisters of Mercy of Great Britain is a registered charity, and in 2006–7 had a gross income of £5.5million.


The Order was condemned in an Irish government report on 20 May 2009 entitled the Ryan Report of"The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse." The Irish Sisters of Mercy, in company with the Irish Christian Brothers, were two of the principal religious orders named in the report as being the most abusive. The Report described the Mercy order's tolerating physical and sexual abuse of girls in its care in Ireland. Not only that, Mercy Sisters were accused in the report of physically, verbally and emotionally, and perhaps even sexually abusing, or allowing lay personnel to sexually abuse children under the care of the order.

Schools founded or run by Sisters of Mercy





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States of America

Colleges & Universities

See also


  1. Mercy International Association
  2. Registered Charity no. CHY 10078.
  3. 'Endemic' rape and abuse of Irish children in Catholic care, inquiry finds

External links

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