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Mercy Partners is a multi-ministry, multi-charism Public Juridic Person (PJP) within the Catholic Church.

Mercy Partners treasures the heritage of the founding congregations and is committed to preserving and nurturing the legacy of the founders:  Catherine McAuley, Nano Nagle and Elizabeth Hayes.

Sisters of Mercy (RSM)
An image of a painting of Catherine McAuley.

Catherine McAuley (1778-1841)

Catherine McAuley opened the House of Mercy in Dublin in 1827. Catherine McAuley’s outreach was to all in need, but she had a special regard for girls and young women of the poorer classes who were frequently exploited and rarely had access to education. She established twelve Mercy foundations in Ireland and two in England and at the time of Catherine’s death there were 150 Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy came to Australia in 1846.

The ministries entrusted to the care of Mercy Partners are: All Hallows’ School (Brisbane), Holy Cross Services (Brisbane), Mater Misericordiae (Brisbane, Bundaberg, Mackay, Redland, Rockhampton, Springfield and Townsville), Mercy Community Services North Queensland, Mercy Community Services South East Queensland, Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland, Our Lady of Mercy College (Parramatta), St Patrick’s College (Townsville) and Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College (North Sydney).

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We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.

Catherine McAuley

Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM)
An image of a painting of Nano Nagle.

Nano Nagle (1718-1784)

Nano Nagle was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1718 during the notorious Penal Laws which sought to subjugate the Catholic population. Nano Nagle responded to the extreme poverty of her time by opening schools in Cork to educate children of the poor. Nano Nagle also visited the sick and the elderly in the evenings earning the nickname ‘The Lady with the Lamp’. In 1775, Nano Nagle founded the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Sisters arrived in Australia in 1866 opening their first school in Tasmania.

The ministries entrusted to the care of Mercy Partners are: St Rita’s College (Brisbane) and St Ursula’s College (Yeppoon).


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By degrees with the assistance of God we may do a great deal.

Nano Nagle

Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MFIC)
An image of a painting of Elizabeth Hayes.

Elizabeth Hayes (1823-1894)

Elizabeth Hayes, a scholar, teacher, pioneer journalist, passionate Franciscan and dedicated missionary, founded the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Known as Sister Mary Ignatius of the Franciscan Sisters, Glasgow, she travelled to Jamaica, Paris, Rome, St Thomas Island, Boston and Belle Prairie. In Belle Prairie she established schools, a novitiate and a printing press, producing the first Franciscan journal in English. The Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Sisters came to Australia in 1930.

The ministry entrusted to the care of Mercy Partners is: Mount Alvernia College (Brisbane).


Seek your peace, love, joy, rest in God alone.

Elizabeth Hayes

Frequently Asked Questions

A Charism is a gift of God, given to individuals to serve the good of humankind.  A Charism is grounded in the Gospel and Jesus' call to act with compassion, justice and mercy. To learn more, please visit our Heritage Charisms page.

This question is complex, as each ministry is situated in a different social and cultural context with varying connections to the founder's story, local congregations and organisational structures.

The culture is a lens on the Gospel and a way of enacting God’s mission inspired by the work and charism of the founder, and the congregation who work tirelessly for God’s mission across the world.

A ministry must be authentically Catholic, focused on living out the values and teachings of the Gospel, work tirelessly, as founding congregations did, for God’s mission and be always attentive and responsive to the call of those made poor and the marginalised.

The following must be the constant focus of staff formation, witness, messaging, rituals and celebrations, connections with Church life, retreats and reflection time:

  • understand the charism of the founder,
  • appreciate the ways in which the founding congregations engaged with God’s mission,
  • observe the ongoing culture revealed in the work of each ministry and
  • discern the ways in which the charism continues to serve God’s mission in response to new challenges.

Preserving, nurturing and reimagining a charism is a constant role of leadership in any Catholic ministry.

On 12 December 2011, the Sisters of Mercy congregations of Adelaide, Ballarat East, Bathurst, Cairns, Goulburn, Grafton, Gunnedah, Melbourne, Perth, Rockhampton, Singleton, Townsville, West Perth, Wilcannia–Forbes, as well as the autonomous region of PNG, held the First Chapter of the new congregation known as Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). In Australia today there are four Congregations of the Sisters of Mercy:
  • Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG)
  • Sisters of Mercy Brisbane Congregation
  • Sisters of Mercy North Sydney Congregation
  • Sisters of Mercy Parramatta Congregation