MercyFirst Celebrates 125 Years
MercyFirst, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, is celebrating 125 years of Mercy-filled services.
MercyFirst addresses the needs of more than 3,200 children, teenagers and families each year in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties New York.
Founded as an orphanage in the late 1800s by the Sisters of Mercy (Angel Guardian Home in Brooklyn and St. Mary’s of the Angels Home in Syosset), today MercyFirst offers a continuum of care through its network of programs in New York City and on Long Island.
In 1893, the Sisters of Mercy purchased 120 acres of farm land in Syosset, Long Island to offer some good fresh country air to the poor ailing children that they cared for in Mercy Home in Brooklyn New York. These children were left homeless and parentless in the aftermath of the Civil War. The new building was speedily completed and on July 16, 1894, the first mass was celebrated in the chapel and plans were made to bring the children from the Mercy Home to their new country residence which would be known as St. Mary of the Angels. By winter of that same year, there were 175 little boys sleeping in the dormitories and regularly attending classes taught by the Sisters in the West wing of the new building. There were 5 Sisters assigned to the care of the children.
On July 4, 1899, the Angel Guardian Home was founded in Brooklyn, New York to serve the needs of 90 orphaned little girls ranging in age from 3 to 5 years old at the request of Bishop Charles McDonnell. Six Sisters were on the original staff to care for the little ones. In 1900, Angel Guardian began providing postnatal shelter to homeless mothers and their babies and 1903 saw the beginning of its foster care program. In 1947 Angel Guardian Home began its adoption department.
One of the things that Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, was known for was tending to the needs of the time. From the very beginning of the founding of the Sisters of Mercy ministries in the Brooklyn/Long Island areas, the needs of the time were always being met and revised. Over the years the populations at St. Mary’s and Angel Guardian grew due to events like the Great Depression and World War II. There were and continue to be changes in the child care system that also prompt response to the needs of the times.
In 2003, the needs of the times were met by merging St. Mary’s Children and Family Services with Angel Guardian Children and Family Services and MercyFirst began.
MercyFirst continues in the spirit of Catherine McAuley’s legacy to meet the needs of our times by inspiring hope and promoting healing for children and families in need through preventive services programs, foster care and adoption services, scholarship fund programs, residential programs, mother baby programs, by providing safe shelter and care in our Start With Hope program for unaccompanied minors fleeing Central and South America and service to children and teens with serious medical and mental health needs.
This will be a year of celebrating 125 years of Mercy-filled services.
We rejoice! We celebrate! We invite you to celebrate with us!
Messages to: Maureen King rsm - VP of Mission integration