All Sisters of Mercy trace their roots to their founder, Catherine McAuley, an Irish Catholic laywoman. Catherine recognized the many needs of people who were economically poor in early nineteenth century Ireland and determined that she and women like her could make a difference.
Spending her inheritance, she opened the first House of Mercy on Lower Baggot Street in Dublin, Ireland on September 24, 1827, a place to shelter and educate women and girls. Impressed by her good works and the importance of continuity in her ministry, the Archbishop of Dublin advised her to establish a religious congregation. Three years later on December 12, 1831, Catherine and her companions became the first Sisters of Mercy.
The Sisters of Mercy have enriched countless lives through service in education, health care, social services and much more. A passion for teaching is the primary reason they arrived in Omaha in 1864. Since that day in 1864 they have been part of the fabric of the Omaha educational community by opening the first Catholic school in the area. Empowerment of young women and education for women and children has been a driving force in their ministry. Mercy education in Omaha began that very fall with the opening of Mount St. Mary Seminary at 24th and St. Mary’s.
48th & Woolworth
After years of planning and careful design by the Sisters, Mercy High School, officially opened on November 2, 1955 with 675 students: over 150 from St. John's, over 300 from St. Mary's, and over 200 in Mercy’s first freshmen class. This event marked the triumph of years of fundraising efforts to create a new, modern high school campus for Mercy Girls. Through the years, the school has undergone various transformations and renovations. These include incorporating the Sisters' convent into new classrooms, adding an athletic center, a performing arts center, chapel for the entire student body, dining hall and new front plaza.
For more than 60 years, those welcoming open doors continue to swing wide to young girls of every area zip code. The Sisters’ prayers and financial support joined with the many alumna and friends continue this open door policy. Mercy alumnae, families of Mercy students, and thousands of benefactors have worked tirelessly to make every Mercy High School education possible. They have partnered with teachers and administrators to make Mercy vibrant in every era – grateful that each generation of young women can know the lifetime advantage of a Mercy education.