The history of McAuley Ministries begins with the Sisters of Mercy, a religious congregation founded in Ireland in 1831 by Catherine McAuley. Having spent most of her life relying on the goodness of others to provide her with food and shelter, Catherine inherited, at the age of 40, approximately $1 million by today’s standards. Instead of using her newfound wealth to care for her own needs, she built a House of Mercy in the midst of one of Dublin’s affluent neighborhoods to respond to the needs of the poor, especially women and children. Her strategy was to make the needs of the less fortunate evident to those who had the resources to help. In order to give permanency to her work, Catherine, at the urging of the local bishop, established the Sisters of Mercy, a religious congregation committed to the service of the poor, sick, and uneducated.
“Every place has its own particular ideas and feelings which must be yielded to when possible.”
Pittsburgh, First Stop in America
In 1843, the Sisters of Mercy brought their caring and compassionate works to Pittsburgh. Mother Frances Warde led six other Sisters to Pittsburgh where they founded the first American congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. The pioneering “Seven Sisters” of Mercy opened the first hospital in Pittsburgh and the first Mercy Hospital in the world on January 1, 1847.
A Time of Growth
Mercy Hospital grew rapidly with Pittsburgh. In 1983, Mercy expanded to become Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, a network of integrated, community-based health and human services throughout the region.
Returning to Our Roots
In 2007, the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System refocused its mission, transitioned its hospital-based services to other providers in the region, and returned to its roots of caring for the most vulnerable people in the community. Mercy Hospital merged with the UPMC health system in January 2008, and the proceeds of the transaction resulted in the formation of McAuley Ministries, a public foundation and the grant-making arm of Pittsburgh Mercy.
Today, Pittsburgh Mercy is a member of Trinity Health, one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the United States, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Pittsburgh Mercy continues to provide services to the most at-risk residents of the Pittsburgh region — those facing mental illness, addictions, homelessness, abuse, and isolation. In the Catholic tradition of compassion and respect, Pittsburgh Mercy ministers to the whole person — mind, body, and spirit.