History & Heritage

Meeting Community Needs Since 1827​​​​​​

The Mercy story begins at an unlikely time in an unlikely place with an unlikely woman. In 1827, our founder, Catherine McAuley, opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, to help alleviate the health care, education and employment needs of the city's poor. Within a few years, her ministry became a religious order. Thanks to her and generations of Sisters of Mercy, today more than 250,000 people in hospitals, schools and community programs worldwide carry on the mission of Mercy. 

In the United States, Mercy traces our roots to New York in 1846. In 1856, the Sisters of Mercy came to St. Louis. Fifteen years later in 1871, they opened a 25-bed infirmary for women and children. Over the years, the Sisters of Mercy expanded their health ministry into a seven-state area: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. 

While the hospitals and other health care facilities sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy were not formally linked, as early as the 1960s they shared management and consulting staff resources. In 1986, to position the individual hospitals for coming changes in health care, the Sisters of Mercy created the Sisters of Mercy Health System. Today, Mercy carries a simplified name and a focus on providing the best care in our hospitals, physician clinics, outpatient facilities, outreach ministries and other health and human services. We are sponsored by Mercy Health Ministry, which was established by the Catholic Church to oversee the healing ministry and Catholic identity of Mercy Health. 
Mercy: Worthy of the Name
Learn more about Catherine and the Sisters of Mercy.