Mercy History Quiz

Join us every Friday between September 21 and December 21 for our Mercy History Quiz, questions about the early history of the Sisters of Mercy in the United States! We'll be sharing the questions on Facebook, Twitter and the Sisters of Mercy website each Friday at 10:00 a.m.; check back for the answers the following Tuesday.

Stumped by the questions? Try searching the website to find the answers!

Question 13 - December 14

Which Sisters of Mercy community established the foundation in the Philippines?

  • A. Pittsburgh
  • B. Erie
  • C. Rochester
  • D. Buffalo

Question 12 - December 7

After Pittsburgh Mercy, what is the oldest hospital founded by the Sisters of Mercy still in operation?

  • A. San Francisco
  • B. Baltimore
  • C. Iowa City
  • D. Savannah

The correct answer is San Francisco!

In 1855, only one year after the Sisters of Mercy established their foundation there, San Francisco was devastated by a cholera epidemic. The City of San Francisco contracted with the Sisters of Mercy to care for the “indigent poor,” which they did at County Hospital. On July 19, 1857, the Sisters of Mercy opened St. Mary’s Hospital, the first Catholic hospital west of the Rocky Mountains. The hospital is now part of the Dignity Health network.

Question 11 - November 30

Where was the first Sisters of Mercy community in New England?

  • A. Manchester
  • B. Portland
  • C. Providence
  • D. Hartford

The correct answer is Providence!

The Sisters of Mercy convent in Providence, Rhode Island was the third foundation from the Pittsburgh Community (after Chicago in 1846 and Loretto, Pennsylvania in 1848), and the first permanent convent of Catholic religious sisters in New England. Ursuline Sisters had established a convent in Massachusetts in 1834, which was later burned down by an anti-Catholic mob, forcing them to flee. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in 1851 at the invitation of Bishop Bernard O’Reilly. Mother Frances Warde founded the Providence Community, accompanied by Sisters Josephine Lombard, Paula Lombard, Camillus O’Neill and Joanna Forgarty.

Question 10 - November 23

Which was the first Sisters of Mercy community that Frances Warde founded from Pittsburgh?

  • A. Loretto
  • B. Chicago
  • C. Baltimore
  • D. Hartford

The correct answer is Chicago!

When Frances Warde and the other six Sisters of Mercy arrived in New York Harbor on December 10, 1843, they were welcomed there by Bishop Michael O’Connor of Pittsburgh, Bishop (later Archbishop) John Hughes of New York and William Quarter, recently consecrated as the first Bishop of Chicago. Bishop Quarter greeted Frances with these words: “As I have been the first to welcome you to the New World, I trust you will grant my first request and promise to establish in the new diocese of Chicago a house of your Institute.” Less than three years later, Frances honored Bishop Quarter’s request, and established the Chicago community of the Sisters of Mercy.

Question 9 - November 16

Who was the first woman to make her solemn (final) vows as a Sister of Mercy in the United States?

  • A) Mother M. Agatha O'Brien
  • B) Sister M. Veronica McDarby
  • C) Sister M. Xavier Tiernan
  • D Sister M. Aloyisia Strange

The correct answer is Sister Aloysia Strange!

Sister Aloysia Strange was one of the first seven Sisters of Mercy who arrived in Pittsburgh in December 1843, along with her elder sister, Sister Elizabeth Strange. Aloysia was still a novice when she came to the United States. She made her profession of solemn (final) vows on April 11, 1844 in the Cathedral of St. Paul in Pittsburgh. Sister Aloysia died of tuberculosis in July 1847. No known photo or image of Sister Aloysia exists.


Question 8 - November 9

Who was the first woman from the United States accepted into the Sisters of Mercy? 

  • A) Eliza Tiernan
  • B) Margaret O'Brien
  • C) Bessie McCaffrey
  • D) Elizabeth Wynne

The correct answer is Eliza Tiernan!

Eliza Tiernan was accepted into the Pittsburgh Community on April 11, 1844 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Paul, taking the religious name Sister M. Xavier. In July 1845, she accompanied Mother Frances Warde and Bishop Michael O’Connor to Ireland on a journey to encourage more Irish sisters to join them in Pittsburgh. Tragically, she died on March 9, 1848, in the midst of a cholera outbreak that also claimed the lives of three other Sisters of Mercy.


Question 7 - November 2

Who invited the Sisters of Mercy to establish ministries in the United States?

  • A) Archbishop Daniel Murray of Dublin
  • B) Pope Gregory XVI
  • C) Bishop Michael O'Connor of Pittsburgh
  • D) Archbishop John Hughes of New York

The correct answer is Bishop Michael O'Connor of Pittsburgh!

Bishop Michael O’Connor, a native of Cobh (pronounced cove”) in County Cork, Ireland, was consecrated as the first Bishop of Pittsburgh on August 15, 1843 in Rome. On his way to the United States, Bishop O’Connor stopped at St. Leo’s Convent in Carlow, Ireland to ask the Sisters of Mercy to establish a foundation in his new diocese. 35 of the 36 sisters from the convent in Carlow volunteered to go. The only sister who didn’t volunteer, Sister Veronica McDarby, was nonetheless selected for the mission to Pittsburgh, and lived the remainder of her life (more than 40 years) at the motherhouse in her adopted city. 


Question 6 - October 26

What is the official status of Catherine McAuley’s Cause for sainthood?

  •  A) She has been named a “Servant of God”
  • B) She has been declared “Venerable”
  • C) She has been beatified
  • D) She has been canonized

The correct answer is Catherine has been declared "Venerable!"

Catherine McAuley’s Cause for Canonization was opened in 1978 by Pope Paul VI, at which time she became known as “Servant of God.” Catherine was declared Venerable, the second of four steps in the canonization process, by Pope John Paul II on April 9, 1990. Beatification requires official recognition by the Catholic Church of a miracle attributed to the intercession, with God, of the deceased holy man or woman; canonization requires that a second miraculous intercession be recognized.

A miraculous healing through Catherine’s intercession was formally recognized by the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 1, 2018, and delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome later the same month. Please join us in praying for Catherine's beatification: Prayer for the Beatification of Catherine McAuley


Question 5 - October 19

What is the oldest Mercy college or university in the world still in operation?

  • A) Carlow University
  • B) College of Saint Mary
  • C) Saint Joseph's College
  • D) Saint Xavier University

The correct answer is Saint Xavier University!

The Sisters of Mercy opened St. Francis Xavier Female Academy in 1846, the same year they arrived in Chicago. The academy would later be named Saint Xavier College, and is known today Saint Xavier University.


Question 4 - October 12

Which Sister of Mercy founded the New York Community in 1846?

  • A) Mother M. Agnes O'Connor
  • B) Mother M. Teresa Maher
  • C) Mother M. Patricia Joseph Waldron
  • D) Mother M. Carmelita Manning

The correct answer is Mother M. Agnes O'Connor

Mother M. Agnes O’Connor founded the New York Community with eight other sisters from the Baggot Street convent in Dublin on May 14, 1846, at the invitation of New York Bishop (later Archbishop) John Hughes. Mary O’Connor was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1815, and entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1838, taking the religious name Agnes.

After thirteen years as Superior of the New York Community, Mother Agnes died in 1859 at the age of 43.


Question 3 - October 5

The Sisters of Mercy arrived arrived in San Francisco in 1854 under the leadership of Mother M. Baptist Russell. Which convent in Ireland did they come from?

  • A)     Kinsale
  • B)     Naas
  • C)     Carlow
  • D)     Charleville

The correct is answer is Kinsale!

The Mercy Convent in Kinsale was founded in 1844, only ten years before Mother Baptist Russell led eight Sisters of Mercy on an 8,000 mile, three-month journey that would take them across the Atlantic to Central America, by wagon over the isthmus and finally by steamship up the Pacific coast to San Francisco. Baptist Russell was only 25 years old—the youngest among the founding sisters— when she was selected to be superior of the new San Francisco Community. The sisters had originally booked their trans-Atlantic passage on the S.S. Arctic, but had to change their travel arrangements because the ship was overbooked. The Arctic collided with another ship in the North Atlantic on Sept. 27 and sank; none of the passengers aboard survived.


Question 2 - September 28

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Chicago in 1846. For how many years were they the ONLY congregation of women religious in the city?

  • A)     3
  • B)     7
  • C)    10
  • D)    14

The correct answer is 10 years!

The Sisters of Mercy were invited to Chicago by Bishop William Quarter, who was consecrated as the first bishop of that city in 1843. Chicago was the first community of Sisters of Mercy founded from Pittsburgh. In 1856, ten years after the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy, Bishop Anthony O’Regan invited the Sisters of the Holy Cross to the diocese.


Question 1 - September 21

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Pittsburgh – their first foundation in the United States – in December of 1843, led by Mother Frances Warde. How many Sisters of Mercy accompanied Frances?

  • A)     5
  • B)     6
  • C)     7
  • D)     9

The correct answer is 6!

Frances arrived in Pittsburgh on the evening of December 20, 1843 with Sisters Josephine Cullen, Elizabeth Strange, Aloysia Strange, Philomena Reid, Agatha O’Brien and Veronica McDarby.