History & Heritage

Meeting Community Needs Since 1827

With a nearly 200-year legacy, Mercy is grateful for the remarkable women who began our ministry and the Sisters who have sustained it through eight generations.

Founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland, the Sisters of Mercy are responsible for thousands of meaningful ministries, including our own. Today, their legacy is carried on by 45,000 co-workers, with each of us answering the same call to offer health care that is innovative, compassionate and rooted in faith. 

The Story of Catherine McAuley

More than 200 years ago, a young Irish woman named Catherine McAuley woke up in the middle of the night, weeping. Once again, she dreamed of destitute women and children reaching out their hands to her for help.

It was our privilege to create this film biography of Catherine's exceptional life on behalf of the Mercy International Association. This is the same film that is shown to pilgrims visiting her House of Mercy in Dublin, and we hope her life inspires you as it does us.

Building a Legacy of Care

Mercy in the United States traces its roots to 1843, when the first Sisters of Mercy arrived from Ireland. In 1856 the Sisters of Mercy came to St. Louis and founded the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the St. Louis Province. Fifteen years later, in 1871, they opened a 25-bed infirmary for women and children. Over the years, the Sisters of Mercy expanded their health ministry in the Regional Community’s seven-state area: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

While the hospitals and other health care facilities sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy were not formally linked, as early as the 1960s they shared management and consulting staff resources. In 1986, to position the individual hospitals for coming changes in health care, the Sisters of Mercy created the Sisters of Mercy Health System. Today, Mercy carries a simplified name and a focus on providing the best care in our hospitals, physician clinics, outpatient facilities, outreach ministries and other health and human services. We are sponsored by Mercy Health Ministry, which was established by the Catholic Church to oversee the healing ministry and Catholic identity of Mercy Health.

Our Communities

Rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy tradition of caring, Mercy continues to touch the lives of 2.7 million patients annually. We serve communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, with outreach ministries in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Today, we are building upon our legacy of listening and developing healthier communities. Through surveys and community roundtable meetings, we listen intently to the voice of those we serve.

Now, under the united name of Mercy, we are more prepared than ever to face the health care challenges of our day and deliver on the promise of more personal, coordinated and comprehensive care. We urge you to explore where Mercy lives in your community and help us build a healthier future.