Early Years

On December 12, 1831, Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle, and Mary Elizabeth Harley professed their religious vows as the first Sisters of Mercy, thereby founding the congregation.

They returned immediately to Baggot Street where seven more women received the habit on January 23, 1832, including Catherine's niece Mary Teresa Macauley. By Spring three hundred poor girls were attending the school on Baggot Street and countless women and girls were welcomed in the shelter. Then the cholera epidemic of 1832 hit Dublin, and though Elizabeth Harley had just died on April 25 of consumption, Catherine agreed to staff a cholera hospital on Townsend Street. The sisters nursed in shifts from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the next seven months.

The first profession ceremony took place at Baggot Street in January 1833; in November 1833 Mary Teresa Macauley died of consumption; in January 1834, Catherine's second niece, young Catherine Macauley, entered the religious community; and in October, the new parish priest of St. Andrew's, Dr. Walter Meyler, closed the convent chapel to the public, thereby cutting off income from the collection at the second Mass on Sundays, on which support of the House of Mercy depended. Yet despite illnesses, deaths, and Dr. Meyler's lack of support, these early years of the Sisters of Mercy were, as Catherine believed, overshadowed by "a most Providential guidance."

December 12 1831

At George's Hill, Catherine McAuley and her two associates – now called in religion, Mary Ann Doyle and Mary Elizabeth Harley – each "vow perpetual poverty, chastity and obedience and to persevere until the end of my life in the Congregation called the Sisters of Mercy, established for the Visitation of the Sick Poor, and charitable instruction of poor females." Thus they found the Sisters of Mercy.

December 13 1831

Daniel Murray appoints Catherine McAuley the first superior.

January 23 1832

Seven women at Baggot Street receive the habit of the Sisters of Mercy at the first reception ceremony: Mary Josephine (Catherine) Byrn, Mary Frances (Frances) Warde, Mary Angela (Margaret) Dunne, Mary Teresa (Mary) Macauley, Mary Clare (Georgiana) Moore, Mary Magdalen de Pazzi (Mary Anne) Delany, and Mary Agnes (Anna) Carroll. Mary Aloysius (Anne) O'Grady is also received on her deathbed.

February 7 1832

Mary Aloysius O'Grady dies at Baggot Street.

April 25 1832

Mary Elizabeth Harley dies at Baggot Street.

April/December 1832

Cholera epidemic in Dublin. At the Board of Health's request Catherine McAuley and other sisters work for months, in shifts from 8:00am or 9:00am to 8:00pm, in a cholera hospital set up on Townsend Street.

June 10 1832

Anne Moore enters the community. She will receive the habit and the name Mary Elizabeth on October 8, 1832, and profess her vows on October 8, 1834.

Decmeber 1 1832

Mary Josephine (Catherine) Byrne transfers to the Dominican Convent in Cabra.

January 24 1833

Four women profess their vows at the first profession ceremony on Baggot Street. Mary Frances Warde, Mary Angela Dunne, Mary Clare Moore, and Mary de Pazzi Delany.

March 17 1833

Dr Michael Blake is consecrated bishop of Dromore. Walter Meyler succeeds him as parish priest of St. Andrew's.

November 3 1833

Catherine McAuley's niece, Mary Teresa Macauley, professes her vows in a private ceremony.

November 12 1833

Mary Teresa Macauley dies just after midnight.

December 8 1833

Catherine McAuley sends to Rome two original chapters of the future Rule and Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy. These chapters – on the Visitation of the Sick and the Protection of Distressed Women – will be additions to the Rule and Constitutions of the Presentation Sisters, which Catherine McAuley will revise for the Sisters of Mercy.

January 28 1834

Catherine McAuley's niece, Catherine Macauley, who had lived at Baggot Street since 1828-1829, enters the community. She will receive the habit and the name Mary Anne Agnes on July 3, 1834, and profess her vows on October 22, 1836.

September 4 1834

Mary Carton enters the community at Baggot Street, as a lay sister. She will receive the habit and the name Teresa on July 1, 1835, and profess her vows on July 1, 1837.

October 1834

Dr Walter Meyler decides to close the convent chapel to the public thereby cutting off needed funds for the House of Mercy.