Catherine McAuley (1778-1841) founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin in 1831. Her letters are essential primary sources for readers interested in the life and works of this remarkable Irish churchwoman and in women's history and Irish church history more broadly. Whether McAuley is writing to family members, bishops, her solicitor, priests, lay coworkers, or Sisters of Mercy in Ireland and England, her letters reveal striking details about the church and society of her day as well as about her own spiritual convictions and unstinting personal service to poor, sick, homeless, or uneducated adults and children.
The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley, 1818-1841, is a new, fully documented edition of more than 320 surviving letters written by, to, or about McAuley during her lifetime. Drawn from archives worldwide and arranged chronologically, the letters are carefully transcribed and generously annotated, with brief narratives introducing each group. In her letters as well as in those of the other correspondents, one sees a delightfully human, affectionate woman; a compassionate, persistent servant of the poor and neglected; an astute businesswoman; and an unpretentious, humorous friend.
This edition of McAuley's correspondence is readily accessible to general readers and demonstrates not only her important role in the founding and amazing spread of the Mercy congregation in her lifetime (now numbering more than 10,000 members globally), but also her personal contributions to the pastoral development of the church in Ireland and England. Scholars and other readers will gain fresh insights into many prominent ecclesial leaders in the years 1828-1841, including Daniel Murray, archbishop of Dublin, and Thomas Griffiths, vicar apostolic of the London District. They will also find in these engaging letters one woman's grass-roots experience of certain social, economic, and ecclesiastical arrangements of her time and place.
"All those letters whose whereabouts are known have recently been tracked down, examined, verified and scrupulously edited. The Correspondence of Catherine McAuley, 1818-1841 is a work of impeccable and exhaustive scholarship... This book is a very model of what such collections should be, and it could hardly have had a better editor than Mary C. Sullivan, herself a Sister of Mercy since 1950 and a distinguished academic for decades... This is not the first collection of Mother McAuley's letters, but it is surely the most complete and meticulously edited."~America Magazine
"This monograph is a magnum opus. Edited by an indefatigable scholar, it is the most complete, accurate compendium of the correspondence of Catherine McAuley... This expanded treasure is, however, dwarfed by another uniquely Sullivan contribution. Not only does each of the more than three hundred entries reflect a precise rendition of documents, but Sullivan has also supplemented each with meticulously researched clarifications of the texts. This bonus provides new historical information and identifies linguistic nuances that help the reader comprehend the content and the context of Catherine's life and accomplishments... For its scholarly approach as well as for what it reveals about the impact of one great Irish woman, and religious women in general, Sullivan's latest monograph deserves our careful study."~American Catholic Studies (ACHS)
" The Correspondence is Church history, social history, local history, but the book will be treasured for the loving, vibrant, genuine woman impressed on its every page."~The Furrow
"Sullivan’s book, the fifth dedicated to Catherine McAuley’s correspondence (like the present editor, all are members of her community), reflects her considerable importance in Irish history, and not just in her own community."~Catholic Historical Review