The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Dublin, Ireland in 1831 by an heiress, Catherine McAuley, who used her wealth to help poor women and children in distress. Her work blossomed into a religious order which has spread throughout the world. Catherine McAuley founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.
In her youth Catherine had the opportunity to study the Old Testament and the Gospels. As a result, Catherine developed a strong faith in God and came to believe that Mercy is the Way God Acts Towards People.
Catherine adopted the title of Mercy for her institute and she and her sisters expressed mercy in their love and service of the deprived, the rejected, the lonely, the weak, the lost; in other words, the poor.
Further, Catherine believed that education bestowed a life-giving power and that no work of charity could be more productive or good for society, nor more conducive to the happiness of the poor, than education.
The young women of Dublin were the first to benefit from her vision, a vision that led to the establishment of schools and hospitals in many countries of the world, including Australia, before the end of the 19th century.
The first Sisters of Mercy to reach Australia arrived in Perth in 1846 and other groups soon followed. Ten Sisters came to Singleton from Ennis, Ireland in 1875 and convents of Sisters of Mercy spread throughout the Hunter Valley.
The Sisters were known for their work in schools, hospitals, orphanages, and later for their missionary endeavours abroad. The Sisters opened convents throughout the Hunter Valley and a convent was first opened in Stockton in 1920. The Catholic school soon followed, opening in 1927.
At St Peter’s, we are part of the Mercy heritage stretching back to those days in Dublin. True to the spirit, we believe it is through education that young people learn to live in a way that is keeping with their dignity as children of God.