Our History

Historic photo of first graduating class, circa. 1961

A tradition of service and success.

Trocaire is a private, career-oriented college in the spirit of our founders, the Sisters of Mercy.

By cultivating a welcoming, inclusive and communal environment where human dignity, self-discovery and professional competence transform the lives of our students, we seek to honor and preserve the legacy of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters who started our school more than 60 years ago.

One of our foremost goals is to encourage our students to change not only their lives, but also the lives of others in our greater Buffalo community.

That’s why the Trocaire Technology Institute is such a big part of the next chapter of our story. It’s a $1.68 million investment into the future of Western New York, and just one more example of how our school continually evolves and expands to answer the changing needs of our regional workforce.

Trocaire is well regarded within the Buffalo healthcare community, so you’ll find our alumni in positions throughout major systems like Catholic Health and Kaleida Health, as well as some of our region’s fastest-growing tech companies. Many of our students find opportunities before they even graduate.

Why do our alumni feel such pride in their alma mater, and why do so many students choose Trocaire? It all comes down to the four key values that set Trocaire apart.

Our four key values.

Academics: Our programs are engaging and active, yet grounded in practicality and flexibility. We emphasize experiential learning while providing a strong liberal arts education. Our programs are career oriented and market driven, constantly evolving to provide the most cutting-edge information.

Careers: Our graduates are well-prepared and skilled industry professionals who use their degrees to improve their lives and the lives of everyone around them. They become part of a successful alumni network of more than 10,000 Trocaire graduates.

Community: Our small, student-centered institution is a nurturing and encouraging community that educates effectively and persistently. Our graduates live and work right here in Buffalo, so they benefit from and contribute to our strong, community-based partnerships for clinicals, internships and service opportunities.

Heritage: Our traditions are rooted in the Sisters of Mercy and their goal to “meet the unmet” need in our community. Our students are often the first in their families to pursue higher education and often have families of their own. At Trocaire, they find a community ready to nurture their ambition and talent while preparing them for careers of service.

Our Mercy Heritage | Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy

All Sisters of Mercy worldwide, and the institutions they established, trace their roots to their founder, Catherine McAuley, an Irish-Catholic laywoman. Catherine recognized the many needs of people who were economically poor in early nineteenth century Ireland and concluded that she and women like her could make a difference in their lives. Spending a sizable inheritance, she opened the first House of Mercy on Lower Baggot Street in Dublin, Ireland on September 24, 1827, a place to shelter and educate women and girls.

Catherine’s original intention was to assemble a lay corps of Catholic social workers for the task. However, impressed by her good works and the importance of sustaining this vital work among the poor, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin suggested that Catherine establish a religious order. Three years later on December 12, 1831, Catherine and two companions became the first Sisters of Mercy.

In the 10 years between the founding of the order and her death in 1841, she established 14 independent convents in Ireland and England dedicated to serving the most vulnerable of society – largely, women and children. In fact, all Sisters of Mercy take a vow to serve the poor as part of their commitment to the religious life. Today, the Sisters of Mercy maintain a strong presence throughout the world and are deeply involved in education, health care, pastoral ministry and social services.

Sisters of Mercy milestones

Sept. 29, 1778: Catherine McAuley was born on this day
Sept. 24, 1827: Catherine McAuley opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. It was a place to shelter and educate women and girls. Now known as Mercy Day.
Dec. 12, 1831: Sisters of Mercy religious order was established on this day

The Sisters of Mercy in America

The first Sisters of Mercy arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1843 at the invitation of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, PA. Their energy in ministering to the sick and economically poor attracted so many new members that by 1854, Sisters of Mercy were establishing schools, hospitals, social services and pastoral ministries at hundreds of sites throughout the U.S.

The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Responding to a call to serve the needy of our time. Inspired by the life of Jesus and by founder Catherine McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy envision a just world for people who are poor, sick and uneducated. The Sisters of Mercy are women of faith who commit their lives to God and their resources to serve, advocate and pray for those in need around the world.

Sisters of Mercy Critical Concerns The Sisters of Mercy were founded out of a deep concern for persons who are poor. Today, that focus is in five “critical concerns” that are addressed through prayer, attention to personal, communal and institutional choices; education; advocacy with legislatures and other government leaders; and corporate engagement.

Institutional Milestones

June 27, 1958: Trocaire gets a five-year provisional charter from the NYS Board of Regents to begin offering courses of study. The college was housed in the east wing of the Mercy Motherhouse and only sisters – religious women – were eligible for enrollment. Graduates of approved secondary schools would complete the year-long program to achieve 106 credit hours to receive the associate’s degree in applied science. At the time, Sancta Maria College had a faculty of 24 sisters and four priests to teach the 108 enrolled sisters.

Officers of the college included:

  • Mother Mary Vincentia
  • Dean: Sr. Mary Paracleta
  • Treasurer: Sr. Mary dePazzi
  • Registrar: Sr. Mary John Aloysius

1965: Lay women allowed admission
Jan. 3, 1967: Official announcement of the name change from Sancta Maria to Trocaire College
Jan. 20, 1972: Trocaire is granted an Absolute Charter from The New York State Education Department
1972: Laymen allowed admission
January 2008: Transit location opens
February 2012: Seneca Street location opens
November 2012: Dr. Bassam Deeb inaugurated as sixth president of Trocaire