Mercyhurst University

Mercyhurst Health Heritage

Mercyhurst University Mission Statement

Consistent with its Catholic identity and Mercy heritage, Mercyhurst University educates women and men in a culture where faith and reason flourish together, where the beauty and power of the liberal arts combine with an appreciation for the dignity of work and a commitment to serving others. Confident in the strength of its student-faculty bonds, the university community is inspired by the image of students whose choices, in life and work, will enable them to realize the human and spiritual values embedded in everyday realities and to exercise leadership in service toward a just world.

The Sisters of Mercy Legacy in Health

The School of Health Professions and Public Health is committed to carrying out the Mission Statement of Mercyhurst University. An even deeper dedication comes from the origins of the Sisters of Mercy. Mercyhurst is especially proud to have a School singularly devoted to the Sisters' genesis.

Health care, nursing and public health were key reasons for the founding of the Sisters of Mercy, in Dublin, Ireland. Catherine McAuley had formed the order to visit the sick and poor in their homes. Known to many as "the walking nuns", this small group could not have imagined how soon they would be tested, as a cholera epidemic swept Ireland in 1832. Within eight months, 12,361 known cases emerged in Dublin. Its death toll in other countries prompted both Dublin's Board of Health and the local Archbishop at the outset to seek the nuns' aid. The emergency cholera hospital on Townsend Street opened on May 1, and on May 4 the Sisters of Mercy took over the hospital, oversaw nurses (servant girls enlisted to help) and began their daily ministry to thousands of the sick and dying.

Mary Sullivan provides this account in her book, The Path of Mercy, The Life of Catherine McAuley:

"The first five cases of cholera in Dublin (four of them fatal) had been reported on March 27. On April 24, the Board of Health for the City of Dublin reiterated the plea that patients suspected of cholera be taken immediately to hospital, as there was “little hope” for one “who delays his application for medical treatment beyond six hours.

By April 28… Catherine wrote to Archbishop Murray seeking permission to offer the services of the Sisters of Mercy wherever they were need. He came to the house immediately. Dr. Murray had just published a pastoral letter on the cholera visitation, begging Catholics to follow four precautions: avoid intoxicating liquors, since these were thought to weaken physical resistance to the disease; abstain from conducting or participating in wakes for the dead, as these occasions were “most dangerous to the public health”; “procure interment with the least possible delay”; and take suspected cholera victims to the hospital set up for them, rather than try to treat them at home. Given the unbelievably sudden deaths they had already witnessed, and the high mortality rates, the poor were terrified.

Catherine McAuley walked at nine o’clock each morning for seven months. She oversaw the eighty poorly paid nurses who worked in shifts and who at this point in nursing were mostly domestic servant, better at mopping floors that at patient care, and occasionally caught imbibing the alcoholic drams intended for patients. … Catherine “would allow no one to be buried till she had assured herself by personal inspection that life was really extinct, nor would she allow the nurses to cover the faces of those supposed to be dead, till a stated time elapsed.” The mere presence of the sisters apparently assured patients and their relatives that, contrary to the wild rumors swirling outside, the doctors were not poisoning patients, and that despite appearances and the suddenness of death (within a few hours), no one was deliberately buried alive.
Most of all, Catherine and her sisters consoled and prayed with dying patients and those that survived. When it was possible to give physical relief they did so."

- from The Path of Mercy, The Life of Catherine McAuley, 2012, p. 114-118.

What a perfect caption! 💚💙 😍 https://t.co/R6gn7XiJm4
By Mercyhurst University on December 13th, 2018, 1:30 PM
Mercyhurst University
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