|Irish banknotes feature the Venerable Sister Catherine McAuley|
Sister Catherine was orphaned at eighteen and sent to live with relatives. They in turn placed her in the household of wealthy friends, for whom she cared until her death. They must have been childless, for their deaths left Catherine, at age forty-eight, with fat stacks of cash. She enlisted the help of women of like minds to join her in an organization to serve the poor. She was advised to place this organization under the aegis of the Church, and thus she founded the Sisters of Mercy.
In the ten years that she lived as a nun, the Sisters of Mercy expanded to twelve houses in Ireland and two in England. In the years that followed her death in 1841, the Sisters of Mercy expanded to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina.
Saint Joseph's College of Maine, located on the shore of lovely Sebago Lake in the sleepy town of Standish, is operated by the Sisters of Mercy. Just this year (2012), they dedicated a statue to Venerable Catherine McAuley. It is diminutive, but perhaps she was too. It is tough as bronze, but perhaps she was tougher. Catherine is oft-quoted in a letter as having said, "Will you tell the Sisters to get a good cup of tea…when I am gone and to comfort one another." Although I drink tea so often that I hardly notice the cup in my hand, I try to think of the Venerable Sister for a moment while I am on campus. It falls short of veneration, to be sure, but it may approach the communion of the faithful.