Mercy Philosophy of Education

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

Catherine McAuley

Inspired by the vision of Catherine McAuley, Mercy education is committed to holistic development and to the achievement of the full potential of each student, particularly those who are disadvantaged or marginalised.  It is a process informed and influenced by the teaching and example of Jesus Christ and is conducted in an atmosphere of care, respect and joy.  Mercy education is committed to ongoing whole-school development in collaboration and partnership with the Board of Management, Staff, Parents and the wider community.

Our Mercy Heritage

Catherine McAuley founded the Religious Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in 1831.

Her strong faith in God nurtured by reflection on the Gospels, her deep and personal awareness of the needs of poor people in Dublin in the nineteenth century and her loyalty to the Catholic Church led her to give her life in service to others.

In her educational endeavours Catherine McAuley sought:

  • To bring freedom and a better quality of life to those who were poor.
  • To regenerate Irish society by preparing young people for responsible adult living.
  • To lead all in her care to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ.

The focus of her attention was those who were poor, uneducated and without opportunity, her approach was collaborative and she sought to influence those at the centre of wealth and power to share in her efforts.

‘She connected the rich to the poor, the educated and skilled to the uninstructed, the influential to those perceived as of no consequence, the powerful to the weak.’ (Adapted from Tender Courage by Sr. Joanna Regan, R.S.M.)

In the area of Primary Education, she was the first of the contemporary founders of religious congregations to seek affiliation to the New National School system and is credited with having adapted creatively and constructively what was then an unsatisfactory governmental system of education.

In terms of secondary or intermediate education Catherine’s non-residential pension school for girls anticipated, by more than forty years, the Intermediate Act of 1878.

Her concern for the spiritual and material welfare of women was expressed in the setting up of the House of Mercy, where women were trained for work which enabled them to earn their living.  Through her policy of self-help and the teaching of crafts and skills, she pioneered technical or vocational education half a century before such education was officially recognised.

Her close liaison with the family, through visitation of homes, pointed to the need for family education and community- based learning and can be seen as the forerunner of home/school/community partnership.

Catherine McAuley was an inspired, creative innovator regarding teacher education.  In Baggott Street she initiated a training programme for female teachers, which was based on the monitor system.  This predated by two years the setting up by the State of a similar teaching-training programme for male teachers in Marlborough Street.

Her system of education was permeated by religious faith nurtured in an atmosphere of love.  Her greatest influence as a teacher came from the recognition that she lived by the values she imparted.