Our History

Our Founder

"Nothing is more important to society than the careful instruction of women.”

-Foundress Catherine McAuley

Image of Catherine McAuley

The roots of Merion Mercy Academy stretch back to 19th century Ireland when an Irish heiress, Catherine McAuley, opened the House of Mercy in Dublin on September 24, 1827 (on the feast of Our Lady of Mercy) as a place to shelter and educate women and girls. 

Catherine was a visionary who realized that education is the key to enable women to make a difference in the world and affect social change. She believed that every girl was deserving of an education, no matter her social status. Catherine was professed as the first Sister of Mercy in 1831, and she dedicated her life to serving the underserved, as do today’s Sisters of Mercy.

Almost 200 years later, Catherine’s legacy continues in the values and traditions at Merion Mercy Academy. 


Merion Mercy Academy's Beginnings

Merion Mercy Academy has grown from its beginnings in 1884 as a small village school rooted in Catholic values to a transformative, independent Catholic educational institution.

Between 1892 and 1906, the present Convent of Mercy was built to accommodate the growing response from area parishes. It features the beautiful convent chapel, within which we are blessed to celebrate many liturgies as a community, and an auditorium that holds assemblies and performances for the school community.  

For the next 60 years, Mater Misericordiae, as it was known then, continued to grow exponentially. In 1954, the present school building was opened for girls in grades K through 12.  The convent space was then devoted to housing the Sisters of Mercy serving in the Philadelphia community. 

In 1968, the school’s name was changed from Latin to English, and Merion Mercy Academy garnered greater recognition throughout the Philadelphia region. In 1986, a decision was made to merge girls in grades K through 8 with boys from Waldron and this is now known as Waldron Mercy Academy, which operates as a separate entity. Merion Mercy Academy concentrated on the secondary education of girls, in grades 9–12, as it does today.


Moving Upward & Onward

In 2003, Merion Mercy built a 27,000 foot addition that included a school chapel, administrative offices, student center, indoor track, dance studio and athletic training facilities. Significant renovations were also completed in the library/media center and music room. 

In July 2016, we began a 15-month rebuild project known as the Upward & Onward Campaign, designed to advance the school with new, versatile spaces. The renovations opened in fall 2017, and include the Frances M. Maguire '53 Art & Design Gallery, the Connelly Lyceum, a student activities and athletics center, an energy-efficient kitchen and dining commons, and a counseling center.

Our Innovation, Discovery and Design Studio opened in 2021 as an interdisciplinary space dedicated to empowering our students to ideate, design, prototype, and evaluate as part of their learning experience. Both the studio and our media center reading room were specifically designed to enhance collaborative project-based learning.

As of 2023, Merion Mercy Academy has close to 400 students. We’re proud to have ties with 55 schools in the Mercy Education System of the Americas and to collaborate globally on projects such as the Mercy Girl Effect, which supports girls’ education around the world.