You are invited to participate in communal prayer for the sick through the intercession of
Prayer for the sick through the intercession of Catherine McAuley
Venerable Catherine McAuley,
once a week for 30 minutes during Lent.
God of love and mercy,
you inspired Catherine McAuley to serve your Son
by responding to the needs of her time.
Moved by her care for the sick
we ask that through her prayers
you reach out with your healing love and restore
to full health.
We ask this in complete confidence through Jesus Christ, your Son.
Catherine McAuley - Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy
A woman who dared to be different
Catherine McAuley was fifty-three years of age when she became a religious and only did so in order to regularise the work she had done all her life as a lay woman. Trust in God, and her natural talents, made Catherine her own woman and a staunch lay leader at a time when female involvement in any area was deeply resented.
She was born in Dublin, Ireland, in September, 1778 to a prosperous Catholic family. Though her father, James McGauley, died in 1783 when Catherine was just five years old, his compassion for the poor, especially children and families who lived nearby, was a lifelong example for his eldest daughter. Fifteen years after her father's death, Catherine was orphaned in 1798 and chose to live in the home of relatives, some of whom were non-Catholic and had little tolerance for her pious practices. In 1803 Catherine was invited to live in the home of William and Catherine Callaghan as a companion to Mrs. Callaghan. The Callaghans were childless and upon Mr. Callaghan's death in 1822, Catherine inherited their fortune: about £25,000, their estate, "furniture and plate." In 1824, Catherine used her inheritance to lease property on Baggot Street, a fashionable neighbourhood in Dublin, for the purpose of building a large house for religious, educational and social services for women and children. Other women, intrigued by the house and the work for which it was intended, were attracted to Catherine and began to join her preparations for the ministry she planned.
She set about bringing merciful relief to people craving for spiritual and material help, for justice, knowledge and love. The house she built on Baggot Street was at once ‘a hostel, a sheltered workshop and employment bureau’ - big innovations for that era. Her vision attracted other lay women who joined in the good work. The original intention being that of ‘a society of pious secular ladies who would devote themselves to the relief of suffering and the instruction of the ignorant. They would retain liberty to leave when they were no longer inclined to render such service.’ It was as a lay woman that Catherine set out for France to learn appropriate teaching methods for her school. As lay women she and her early companions sought visiting privileges at Sir Patrick Dunn’s hospital, to comfort the sick and dying, at a time when a Catholic priest was rarely granted entrance.
Catherine was quick to recognise the potential of the women of Ireland for bringing about change in an unjust society. She believed that, ‘No work of charity can be more productive of good to society, or more conducive to the happiness of the poor than the careful instruction of women’. Since the poor women she come in contact with had little or no talent for home management, and even less in the area of ‘transferable and marketable skills to use for employment,’ Catherine began to teach them domestic skills and needle work. Eventually she opened a shop as an outlet for their products.
Any ‘favours’ granted through the intercession of Catherine McAuley should be reported to any member of the Canonisation Committee: Sr. Anne Hannon, Convent of Mercy, Birr, Sr. Ailish O’Brien, Moyle Park, Clondalkin, Dublin, Catherine McEvoy 33 Lowtown Road, Gilford, Craigavon