Our Mercy Tradition

St Mary’s College was established by Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy in 1863.

More than 157 years ago, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Ipswich, persuaded by a group of Catholic citizens from Ipswich to come and educate the region’s children. A small band of the Sisters of Mercy, including Mother Vincent Whitty and Sister Jane Gorry sailed up the Bremer River from Brisbane on the SS Saddler on 1 May 1863.

The Sisters of Mercy were prepared to travel to Ipswich and open a school when others were daunted by the thought. We were founded, then, with compassion and resilience. We are proud of our history and embrace our Catholic and Mercy traditions. At St Mary’s College, we aim to keep alive the vision of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy and to give it practical expression.

We recognise the five pillars of the Mercy charism: Spirituality, Community, Hospitality, Education and Mission. These qualities of Mercy are embedded into our curriculum, our Pastoral Care Program and our policies and procedures.

Mercy Day is celebrated annually around the world, marking the date on which Catherine McAuley established the House of Mercy in Baggot Street, Dublin in 1827. Four years later, Catherine founded the Sisters of Mercy.

At St Mary’s College, we join in this worldwide celebration of Mercy Day. We devote this day to acts of service reflecting the five pillars of Mercy. Our students celebrate the extraordinary community that is St Mary’s, and give back to those less fortunate than themselves in collaboration with local charities and organisations. Through these celebrations, students deepen their understanding of the pillars of Mercy, and what it means to be a person of Mercy.

The word ‘mercy’ appears again and again in the scriptures and its meaning is always much richer than simply referring to forgiveness.  In fact, it is really a synonym for ‘grace’ – the life of God which is freely given to those who trust in him.  More than this, it is often used to highlight the power of God to heal us, to help us become the best we can be.

St Luke tells us that Mary praised God for everything he had done for her with the words “He has looked with mercy on my lowliness.”  Mary, who was no sinner, nevertheless understood that God’s mercy was the source and sustainer of her strength.

While the Sisters of Mercy are no longer physically present at our College, our histories are intrinsically linked. Daily, we are reminded of their vision and mission and strive to uphold it

The Mercy charism has flowed through many generations and today continues to inspire us to perform ordinary things, extraordinarily well. The example of Catherine, to go where there was a need to spread mercy, continues to encourage and empower us in our words and actions.

Mercy is a heart suffering over the sufferings of others. 
Thomas Aquinas