‘Mercy Day’ teaches JACS students the importance of community service | KSNF/KODE

JOPLIN, Mo. — You may not know her name, but she and her followers have had a profound impact on the Joplin area and beyond. Mary Catherine McAuley was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1778.

After losing both parents at an early age, she and her siblings were adopted by a wealthy couple. After their deaths, she dedicated her time and treasure to the care and education of the sick and poor. She founded her own order of Catholic nuns called the Sisters of Mercy. Their influence is felt all over the world as well as in the Four States.

“The Mercy Sisters brought Catholic education to Joplin and also Catholic health care to Joplin, so Mercy Hospital, McAuley High School, St. Peter’s, everything was started by the Mercy Sisters. And we are so grateful to them, so they have a beautiful and powerful legacy in education and health care here in the Joplin area,” said Edward Rice, Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

Catholic education in Joplin started by the Sisters of Mercy actually predates public education. And it was Catholic upbringing that led Joan Schwager to join McAuley’s order. She was part of a group of nuns who renewed their vows at a school-wide mass celebrating the Day of Mercy.

“When I was going to college at Mount Mercy University, the Sisters of Mercy were my teachers, and I saw the joy and happiness they had and how they mingle and have fun, and take their work seriously but enjoyed their life. And so I wanted to be a part of that,” said Sister Joan Schwager, Sister of Mercy.

After mass, students from St. Mary’s Elementary School, St. Peter’s Middle School and McAuley High School gathered to donate to patients at the local Mercy Hospital.

“Today we make Mercy stickers and cards for those in the hospital,” said St. Mary’s Elementary 4th grader Gianna Buccieri.

“It’s pretty cool to come here and work with little kids, get to know them. I think that’s pretty cool,” said Kendall Jones, McAuley High School Senior.

Sister Mary Catherine McAuley is just one step away from being named a saint by the Catholic Church and members of the order she founded, who hope it will happen by their 200th birthday.

Norma P. Rex