Sisters of Mercy: Overview

Featured Image: Convent and Campus Green – http://www.carlow.edu

By Erika Kellerman

Carlow University is a Catholic institution, but also a Mercy institution. You may be wondering, “What does that mean?”

Carlow is one of 16 Mercy universities/colleges in the United States. Being a Mercy institution means sharing and teaching the same ideologies the original Sisters of Mercy left for future generations to learn and utilize in their everyday lives.

The Sisters of Mercy advocate for social justice and have a strong connection to volunteerism. The seven main corporal works of mercy are to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead—Carlow exposes students to these works of mercy daily.

During orientation, first year students are given a lot of information to absorb and use for the next four years of their college careers. Many overlook the history of our foundation.

The founder of the Sisters of Mercy was Catherine McAuley, born on September 24, 1827 in Dublin, Ireland. She saw the impoverished surroundings in Dublin and decided she wanted to do something about it. After McAuley inherited a large of sum of money, she created a “House of Mercy” to take in women, children, and the sick.

She and a few other sisters were invited to Pittsburgh in 1843 by the Bishop of Pittsburgh after he heard about her merciful acts. They created schools, hospitals, and houses across the country to help those in need.

Fast forward to 2016: The Sisters of Mercy keep their founder close to their hearts. Sister Sheila Carney is a Sister of Mercy who works on campus as the assistant to the President. Catherine McAuley is an inspiration to Sister Sheila, in fact, Sister Sheila said, “I’ve modeled my life after hers. I have been inspired by her and the women that have followed her.” When asked about one of her favorite stories concerning McAuley she responded, ”The stories with young people. Her relationship with young people was unique for the historical time period she lived in. Most adult to child relationships were very formal. She broke through that barrier and became a support system to children. She was very close with them.”

There is currently a cause to canonize (be declared a Saint) Catherine McAuley. Sister Sheila believes that McAuley should be canonized because “she had such a heart for hospitality, people, and service. She could be a public model and figure for our society that so badly needs values again. More people would be able to come to know her.”

Carlow University also has around 60 Sisters of Mercy living at the convent above the University Commons. Students are always welcome to visit the sisters, play bingo, or have cups of tea.

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