Venerable Catherine McAuley (1778-1841)

for November 11

Venerable Catherine McAuley was born to devout Catholic parents in Dublin, Ireland. Her parents lived out their faith by ministering to the needs of the poor. Sadly, Catherine's parents passed away, and she was sent to live with relatives. Catherine's relatives were Protestant, and urged her to join their church. However, Catherine refused their wishes and remained a faithful Catholic. At the age of 25, Catherine was asked to be a live-in helper to a wealthy elderly couple. Catherine attended to their needs, as well as the needs of the poor people in their neighborhood, with such loving and tender care that the elderly couple were inspired to join the Catholic Church. When the elderly couple passed away, they left all of their wealth and possessions to Catherine. Their generosity blessed Catherine with the funding that she needed to establish a house to serve those in need. In 1827, the House of Mercy opened its doors. The establishment included a school, a church, an area used to train residents for the workforce, and living quarters for the poor and for women who wished to be part of Catherine's ministry. Although she initially did not want to form a religious order, because she feared it would take her away from her work with the poor, she was convinced by the archbishop of Dublin to train to become a nun. When she took her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, she was also permitted to take a vow of service to the poor, the sick, and the uneducated. Catherine began her order, called the Religious Sisters of Mercy, in 1831. She and her sisters dressed in plain clothing instead of in habits, and were known as "walking nuns" because they spent a majority of their time ministering to those in their local town.

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Jesus gives us many examples of service. He healed the sick, made the blind see, and restored dignity to outcasts. We learn that we too are called to be people of service in his example of washing the disciples’ feet. Performing the task of a servant, Jesus sets his followers on the path of service. Many people serve us, and many provide inspiring examples of serving others. When do you serve out of love? How can you follow Jesus’ example of humble service? Who in your community needs your service so that they too may follow Jesus? (Taken from “By My Side: A Teen Prayer Companion.”)


Although I may never wash anyone’s feet, I thank you, Christ, for reminding me to do as you did and to serve others humbly. (Taken from “By My Side: A Teen Prayer Companion.”)