Our Mercy Tradition


St Mary's College was established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1863.

160 years ago, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Ipswich, persuaded by a group of Catholic citizens to come and educate the region's children. A small band of the Sisters of Mercy, including Mother Vincent Whitty and Sister Jane Gorry sailed up the Bremer River from Brisbane on the SS Saddler on 1 May 1863. Throughout our more than 160-year history, we have grown and developed into a contemporary Catholic school for girls.

The Sisters of Mercy were prepared to travel to Ipswich and open a school when others were daunted by the prospect. We were founded, then, with compassion and resilience. We are proud of our history and embrace our Catholic and Mercy traditions. At St Mary's College, we aim to keep alive the vision of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy and to give it practical expression.

We have identified and recognise five pillars of the Mercy charism: Spirituality, Community, Hospitality, Education and Mission. These qualities of Mercy are embedded into our curriculum, our Pastoral Care Program and our policies and procedures.

Mercy Day is celebrated annually around the world, marking the date on which Catherine McAuley established the House of Mercy in Baggot Street, Dublin in 1827. At St Mary's College, we join in this worldwide celebration, devoting this day to acts of service reflecting the five pillars of Mercy. Our students celebrate the extraordinary community that is St Mary's, and give back to those less fortunate than themselves in collaboration with local charities and organisations. Through these celebrations, students deepen their understanding of the pillars of Mercy, and what it means to be a person of Mercy.

While the Sisters of Mercy are no longer physically present at our College, our histories are intrinsically linked. Daily, we are reminded of their vision and mission and strive to uphold it.

St Mary's College is an integral part of the Catholic community of St Mary's Parish. The whole school embraces a program that supports the Religious Life of the College, where students are offered opportunities beyond the classroom to pray and reflect; to show compassion; and to be of service to those less fortunate than themselves.

The Mercy charism has flowed through many generations and continues to inspire us to perform ordinary things, extraordinarily well. The example of Catherine, to go where there was a need to spread mercy, continues to encourage and empower us in our words and actions.