Traditionally Sisters of Mercy were engaged in Education from the time of the Foundation of the Order in 1831. Catherine McAuley herself travelled to France to learn the latest methods which she applied to the first school in Baggot Street.
From the time of the first foundation in Bermondsey in 1839, the Sisters have been involved in education at all levels. Whenever a new foundation was made it was likely that the first apostolate would be education and over the years Sisters have taught in hundreds of schools in all parts of the country. Many of these schools started in the convent with a few pupils and grew into establishments catering for large numbers of students from nursery to third level.
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Today, the situation is somewhat different. Many of these schools are still owned by the Sisters but are leased to Dioceses or Trusts. Only three Schools are now directly under the Trusteeship of the Institute, one Private Primary School and two Voluntary Aided Schools. However, Sisters maintain contact with a number of Schools by voluntary work and
membership of Governing Bodies.
The Institute has an Education Working Group who organise a Conference each year for the Headteachers and Chairs of Governors of Mercy Schools past and present. These conferences provide opportunities to keep the Mercy ethos and values alive. Members of the Working Group also visit Schools to share the story of Catherine McAuley and her legacy.
St Mary’s Primary School, Eltham is one of the schools where we have a sister as a school governor. She encourages the children to be aware of the legacy of Mercy that first began the school. Recently they have composed their own school song – well done, St Mary’s!