Catherine McAuley

A good beginning is of great importance

Catherine McAuley was born in Dublin, Ireland, in September 1778 to a prosperous Catholic family. Though her father, James McAuley, died in 1783 when Catherine was just five years old, his compassion for the poor, especially children and families who lived nearby, was a lifelong example for his eldest daughter.

Fifteen years after her father’s death, Catherine was orphaned in 1798 and chose to live in the home of relatives, some of whom were non-Catholic. In 1803 Catherine was invited to live in the home of William and Catherine Callaghan as a companion to Mrs. Callaghan. The Callaghans were childless and upon Mr Callaghan’s death in 1822, Catherine inherited their fortune: about £25,000, their estate, “furniture and plate.” This was a significant amount of money and would be millions of dollars by today’s standards.

In 1824, Catherine used her inheritance to lease property on Baggot Street, a fashionable neighbourhood in Dublin, for the purpose of building a large house for religious, educational and social services for women and children. Other women, intrigued by the house and the work for which it was intended, were attracted to Catherine and began to join her preparations for the ministry she planned.


Heritage and Formation of Notre Dame.pdf


What is it in Catherine McAuley that continues to inspire you?