Mercy Health was founded in 1986 by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1989, two regional communities of the Sisters of Mercy agreed to co-sponsor our health system as an innovative way to preserve and enhance both of their health ministries. In 1995, they welcomed the Grey Nuns as sponsors, and in 1996, the Grey Nuns transferred sponsorship of their health ministry to Covenant Health Systems. Also in 1996, Mercy Health welcomed the Sisters of the Humility of Mary as sponsors. The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor joined as sponsors in 1999.
The religious communities that sponsor Mercy Health share a heritage of compassion and a tradition of carrying forth the healing ministry of the church.
Sisters of Mercy
In 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, Catherine's congregation of women religious 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.
Sisters of the Humility of Mary
Marie-Antoinette Potier founded a sodality dedicated to educating young girls in Dommartin-sous-Amance, France. In 1858, they officially became the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.
A French missionary to the U.S. invited four members to minister to French settlers in America. Led by Marie-Anne Tabourat, who became the foundress of the congregation in America, they settled in New Bedford, Pa., near the Ohio state line.
The Sisters of the Humility of Mary established St. Joseph Infirmary on their convent grounds in 1879 to care for workers injured building the railroad. It continued until 1911, when St. Elizabeth Health Center was opened in Youngstown, Ohio. Soon, two more Ohio hospitals came under the direction of the sisters - St. Joseph Health Center in Warren in 1924 and St. Joseph in Lorain in 1927.
Over time, the sisters established schools of nursing, health education and public health nursing. Today, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary work in education, healthcare and social service primarily in the diocese of Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh.
Sisters of Charity of Montreal / Covenant Health Systems
In 1737, Marguerite d'Youville founded the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, known as the "Grey Nuns." Born in Quebec, Canada, she accepted a life of adversity as an opportunity to respond with love and compassion. Marguerite's selfless works inspired others to join her. She challenged the Sisters of Charity of Montreal to be creative in developing ministries in response to the needs of poor persons and that calling is still answered today.
The Grey Nuns, who were already serving throughout Canada, were called to the United States for the first time in 1855 to found a hospital and orphanage in Toledo, Ohio. Under their stewardship, that facility grew into a regional tertiary care referral center now known as St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center. The number of facilities sponsored by the Grey Nuns in North America quickly grew, evolving into a ministry broad-based in both its scope of services and in its geography.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor
The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor were founded by Frances Schervier in Aachen, Germany in 1845. From an early age, Frances fed and clothed the poor. She set up a soup kitchen, undertook night watch with the ill and comforted the dying. Frances founded a religious congregation in 1845. The congregation grew rapidly and today, the Sisters’ healing ministry extends to the US, Brazil, Italy and Senegal.
The first Franciscan Sisters of the Poor to serve in the US arrived in Cincinnati, OH in 1858 at the request of the 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 for the area’s many sick and poor. Over time, the Sisters’ Cincinnati presence grew to include two hospital, social service agencies and retirement communities, as well as numerous other healthcare services.
The Sisters' Ongoing Service
Today, religious sisters' important work continues within Mercy Health.
Sisters serve on the Mercy Health Board of Trustees and public juridic person, Partners in Catholic Health Ministries. Their impact is also felt through our Mission and core Values and is woven into our daily decision-making at every level.