• Organisation

Sisters of Mercy, Melbourne Congregation


The Sisters of Mercy, Melbourne Congregation was a Catholic religious order of women who arrived in Victoria in 1857 from Western Australia. The Sisters operated orphanages, children’s homes, foster care programmes and family care centres. In 1907 other Victorian congregations merged into the Melbourne Congregation. In 2011, the Sisters of Mercy, Melbourne Congregation was dissolved and merged with 15 former Australian congregations to become the Institute of Sisters of Mercy Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The Sisters of Mercy, Melbourne Congregation began its work in 1857 when three Sisters arrived in the colony of Victoria from Perth. They settled in the suburb of Fitzroy and began their works, including education of the poor and young women, the care of orphans and newly arrived immigrant Irish girls and visitation of the needy.

The Sisters took responsibility for St Vincent de Paul’s Orphanage in South Melbourne in 1861. In 1872 the Sisters established a Domestic Training Institute in their former House of Mercy in Fitzroy. It had previously accommodated newly arrived Irish female migrants who were waiting to gain employment in the colony. Older orphan girls were transferred to the Institute from St Vincent de Paul’s Orphanage to be trained in domestic work. This training involved ‘acting as servants for the adjoining boarding school’, the Convent of Mercy, Nicholson Street, Fitzroy.

In 1907, all the other Victorian Sisters of Mercy congregations, with the exception of Ballarat, amalgamated to form the present Melbourne Congregation. The Sisters continued to support children in care through orphanages and children’s homes in Melbourne, Geelong and other regional locations.

The Melbourne Congregation became a province of the Australian Union of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in 1954 and a member congregation of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia in 1981.

In 1997, records of the Sisters of Mercy were transferred to MacKillop Family Services. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by the Sisters of Mercy. While custodianship of the records about people in ‘care’ became the responsibility of MacKillop Family Services at this point, it was formally agreed that the intellectual property in these records would not change hands.

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  • Alternative Names

    Melbourne Sisters of Mercy


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