Our Founders

The Sisters of Mercy

Catherine McAuleyIn 1831, Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. A deeply religious woman of comfortable means, she sought to extend the Catholic Church's ministries of healing and teaching to the poor, the sick, the uneducated and those who were ostracized by society. Since her death in 1841, McAuley’s congregation has become one of the largest ever established in the English-speaking world.

The healing ministries of the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Cincinnati (now the Sisters of Mercy, South Central Community) and the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Dallas, Pa., (now the Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community), formally began at the end of the nineteenth century with the opening of hospitals in Hamilton, Ohio, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1892 and 1898, respectively.

Through the years, the facilities under their sponsorship continued to grow in size, number, services and patients served. In 1981, the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Cincinnati restructured their health ministry, naming it Mercy Health Care System. Later, the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Dallas, Pa., also formed a health system. By 1989, the two religious communities had agreed to merge their healing ministries into one system – Mercy Health System – that they would sponsor together, and the system later became Catholic Health Partners, now known as Mercy Health.

Franciscan Sisters of the Poor

Frances SchervierThe Franciscan Sisters of the Poor were founded by Frances Schervier in Aachen, Germany in 1845. From an early age, Schervier fed and clothed the poor. She set up a soup kitchen, undertook night watch with the ill and comforted the dying. Later, a friend told her of a dream she had in which Schervier was to found a religious congregation. By 1845, the dream had become a reality. The congregation grew rapidly, and today, the sisters' healing ministry extends to the United States, Brazil, Italy and Senegal.

The first Franciscan Sisters of the Poor to serve in the United States arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1858 at the request of Cincinnati's archbishop. They were asked to minister to the sick and poor of the German immigrant population. Upon arrival, the sisters quickly set up what became St. Mary's Hospital. Over time, the sisters' Cincinnati presence grew to include two hospitals, two social service agencies and two retirement communities, as well as numerous other healthcare services.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor joined Mercy Health, formerly Catholic Health Partners, in 1999. With this partnership, all of the former Franciscan entities in the Cincinnati area became part of Mercy Health.

The Sisters’ Ongoing Service

Today, religious sisters' important work continues. They serve in schools, healthcare organizations, parishes and in a multitude of other areas. The sisters also operate numerous outreach programs that creatively and effectively help those in need.

In addition, they remain a strong influence and guiding beacon for Mercy Health. Sisters serve on the Board of Trustees and a small number of sisters work in local facilities. Their impact is also felt throughout our mission and core values and is woven into our daily decision-making at every level.

Mercy Health also offers specific programs that are designed to instill the sisters’ enduring values and compassionate priorities in our associates and leaders. RISEN, which was developed by The Catholic Health Association of Wisconsin, helps nurses and other associates design more caring environments for their patients and coworkers and foster spiritual health in patients. The organization also offers a program of spiritual formation for leaders called Creating a Legacy. And, another powerful program, Footprints for the Journey, helps managers understand the organization’s mission and Catholic identity, embrace their responsibility to carry on the legacy of the organization’s sponsors and make a personal commitment to the mission.