Mercy Hospice was established by the Sisters of Mercy. This religious congregation of women was founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831 in Dublin Ireland. Inspired by the gospel message of Jesus Christ the Sisters moved out beyond their convent walls to walk amid and serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated of their day.
The Sisters’ strong tradition of nursing grew from their experience of caring for victims of the cholera epidemics in Ireland and England in the 1830s and 40s. In the 1860s the Sisters nursed with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war. Victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic were nursed by Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world.
Led by Sister Cecilia Maher, the Sisters of Mercy first came to New Zealand at the invitation of local Maori women. They arrived in Auckland after an arduous sea voyage on April 9th, 1850. More and more sisters from Ireland and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands gradually joined the mission of Mercy in this country.
As early as 1952, hospice care was part of the mission of Mercy Hospital (formerly Mater Miserecordiae Hospital, established by the Sisters at Mountain Road Epsom in 1900). In 1979 St Joseph’s Mercy Hospice became part of Mercy Hospital before moving to the current site in College Hill, Ponsonby.
The renamed Mercy Hospice was officially opened on this site in March 2007. The facility was donated by Sisters of Mercy for the development of hospice care. The hospice building had once been the noviciate of the Sisters of Mercy and for 11 years until 2004, a boarding hostel for students of St Mary’s College.
The mission and values of Mercy Hospice draw very strongly from the mission of Mercy originally expressed by Catherine McAuley. Our founding identity is Catholic and in the tradition of Mercy we welcome those from every culture, race and creed. The hospice flourishes today because of the staff and volunteers and benefactors who continue to uphold the heritage of the Mercy mission and values.