Our Foundress

Catherine McAuley

Catherine McAuley founded the order of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin in 1831.
In a society marred by socio-political forces that protected the privileged and oppressed the poor, the majority of whom were Catholics, Catherine McAuley became one of Ireland’s greatest social reformers. She founded and led a women’s community movement of direct, uncloistered advocacy and service to the poor and sick in Ireland.
Catherine devoted her life and resources to bring an end to the chronic poverty that she saw around her, and to alleviate the suffering of those who had no access to education and who suffered ill health and homelessness.
In 1827 Catherine McAuley opened a school to help the poor in Baggot Street, Dublin, Ireland. She and her companions constructed a school, visited the sick, provided childcare, sheltered the homeless and organised training for unemployed young women.
On 12 December 1831, Catherine founded the Sisters of Mercy. She was a very prayerful, humble woman who had an unbounded confidence in God. She constantly reminded those with whom she came in contact: “Our centre is God from whom all our actions should spring as from their source.”
Catherine believed in the education of women. She appreciated the unique contribution they were capable of making on behalf of society and she wanted to empower women in whatever sphere they found themselves, so that they could effect a shift towards a more just society. This desire to empower women in society is one of the main characteristics of the Sisters of Mercy.
Catherine, an extraordinary woman of deep faith and trust in God, died in 1841, ten years after founding the order. After her death her work spread across the world to the United States, Newfoundland and, in the same decade as her death, to Australia.
The Feast Day of Catherine McAuley is 24 September. 

Sisters of Mercy,
North Sydney

Mother Ignatius (Elizabeth) McQuoin, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy North Sydney, arrived in Sydney from Liverpool, England on 15 November 1865. She quickly established a school at St Patricks, Church Hill and began carrying on the work of Mercy.

Mother Ignatius moved some Sisters to a cottage she rented on the corner of West and Carlow Streets, North Sydney – the first site of the College which opened in 1875. On 1 April 1879, the College moved to its present site, to the house called Masalou previously owned by the Hon Francis Lord MLA and bought on behalf of the Sisters by Mr George Whiting. The name was changed to Monte Sant’ Angelo. Mother Ignatius guided the College until her death in 1893.


Sister Ambrose Geary arrived as Principal to set Monte on the path of academic achievement. She updated old patterns and developed a more contemporary education style.


The twentieth century rolled on and Sister Clement Flanagan arrived at Monte to foster the pursuit of academic excellence and sporting achievements. Monte continued to grow and in 1939 the Middle School block was added to the buildings of 1906.


Sister Baptista Rankin replaced Sister Clement as Principal and faced the challenges of post-war education: the need for even more specialised accommodation for students who received the benefits of an ever-widening curriculum. By the mid-1950s Monte was well on the road to becoming a major force in education in Sydney.


Sister Maureen McGuirk AM became Principal and over the next 21 years continued the expansion of the curriculum and the updating of facilities and undertook a building program that has benefited the College community greatly.

Sister Sharon Price continued the development of the College and was the last Sister of Mercy to lead the College. She was responsible for the establishment of the College Board, the Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College Foundation and Board of Directors and for the readiness of the College for transition to lay leadership.

Mrs Beverley Johnson became the first lay Principal appointed by the College Board and the Trustees of the Sisters of Mercy. Under her leadership the College moved forward with innovative emphasis on teaching and learning and the integration of Information Communication Technologies to facilitate and enhance curriculum delivery.


Ms Catherine Alcock was the preceding Principal and her vision to provide choice and opportunity to Monte students led to the introduction of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years (IB MYP) and Diploma Programmes (IB DP). Monte was the first Catholic girls' school in NSW to offer both programs, placing the College at the forefront of educational innovation.


Mrs Nicole Christensen is the current Principal and is an outstanding educator and leader who truly embodies the values of Catholic education in the Mercy tradition. She has a proven commitment to academic excellence and excels in her understanding and leading of educational policy at both State and National levels. Mrs Christensen is overseeing the Scientia Project, the largest capital works project undertaken in the College’s history.