Sisters of Mercy from 1951

History and Founders

No work of charity can be more productive of good to society than the careful instruction of women…since whatever station they are destined to fill, their example and their advice will always have great influences…

Catherine McAuley, RSM  

   Founder of the Sisters of Mercy

sister catherine mcauley

A woman named Catherine McAuley (1778-1841) was dedicated to serving the sick, poor and uneducated in her Dublin hometown. With the inheritance from a former employer, she opened the House of Mercy on September 24, 1827, and thus founded the Sisters of Mercy. Catherine sought to provide solace to sick and needy families, to train young girls for employment and to instruct poor children.

The establishment of St. Mary’s Academy in 1851 was part of an effort by Arkansas’ first Catholic Bishop, Andrew Byrne, to support Catholic settlement in frontier Arkansas. Byrne traveled to Ireland and persuaded the Sisters of Mercy to send four sisters and five postulants to the newly formed Diocese of Little Rock. Upon arrival, the Sisters formed the nucleus of the little school that would eventually become Mount St. Mary Academy.

original site and building for mount st mary academy

We continue to be sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy.  Additionally, we are a part of Mercy Education, which was founded in 2017.  Mercy Education is an international system of 55 Mercy education ministries in Argentina, Belize, Guam, Honduras, Jamaica, the Philippines, and the United States. As reflected in the first Spirit of the Institute, Mercy Education holds in trust its education ministries and places its work in the tradition of the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley.  Mercy Education schools, though geographically diverse, share a common heritage, legacy and mission.  Committed to meeting current needs, Mercy Education remains a vital component of the works of the Sisters of Mercy. The mission of Mercy Education through its governance and service components upholds this commitment.

Timeline of Years Past (before 2000)