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Sisters of Mercy

From Academic Kids

For the rock band of this name, see The Sisters of Mercy.

The Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy (RSM) is an order of Roman Catholic women founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831. As of 2003, the order has about 10,000 members worldwide, organized into a number of independent congregations.

Sisters take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service, but continue to participate in the life of the surrounding community. In keeping with their mission of serving the poor and needy, many sisters engage in teaching, medical care, and community programs. The organization is active in lobbying and politics as well.

The order began when McAuley used an inherited fortune to build a "House of Mercy" in Dublin that provided educational, religious, and social services in poor women and children. The House aroused local opposition however, it being traditional for nuns rather than lay women to engage in this sort of activity. Eventually the church hierarchy agreed to the formation of a non-cloistered order, and the sisters became known informally as the "walking nuns" for their ability to care for the poor outside a convent. The house still stands today, as the Mercy International Centre.

A number of hospitals with "Mercy" in their names are run by, or affiliated with the Sisters.

In 1992, the leaders of the various congregations created the Mercy International Association to foster collaboration and cooperation.

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