In the early part of the 20th century, Mount St. Rita served as a novitiate and convent for Sisters of Mercy. Responding to both the health care needs of the Sisters of Mercy and the health care needs of the community, in 1971 the Mount (as the Centre is fondly known) transformed itself by becoming a licensed nursing home. In 2021, Mount St. Rita Health Centre will celebrate its 50th year of providing compassionate health care in the spirit of God’s healing love and in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.
Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, was an Irish Catholic laywoman who lived in Dublin, Ireland, in the early nineteenth century. As a young adult, she was distressed by the many needs of the educationally and financially impoverished. Catherine concluded that she and women like her, could make a difference in the lives of those who were suffering. In 1827 she opened the House of Mercy as a place to shelter, feed and educate women and girls. Catherine, and the women who worked with her, also tended to the sick. To continue her acts of Mercy under the auspices of the Catholic Church, Catherine professed her religious vows. In 1831, Sister Catherine founded the Order of the Sisters of Mercy.
Frances Warde, a friend of Catherine McAuley and a Sister of Mercy, was the American founder of the Sisters of Mercy. She initially traveled from Dublin to work in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For over 50 years, Frances Warde traveled throughout the United States establishing schools, hospitals and Houses of Mercy.