The Mercy mission shines on through Trocaire, Sister Margy

The Sisters of Mercy – founders of what is now called Trocaire College in 1958 – strive to carry out their mission of goodwill and benevolence while “guided by prayerful consideration of the needs of the time.” The values of the Sisters of Mercy include spirituality, community, service, social justice and works of mercy.

Scene from Trocaire College in the 1960s.

Trocaire through and through:
Meet Sister Margaret Mary Gorman

Sister Margaret Mary Gorman – a Buffalo native, Trocaire graduate and administrator and a member of the order since 1960 – has always lived a life centered on service to her faith.

Sister Margaret of Trocaire CollegeSister Margaret “Margy” was attracted to Trocaire as a young student because – at the time – the college focused exclusively on the education of young women in religious orders, and she had begun her journey towards membership in the Sisters of Mercy.

She graduated from Trocaire (then known as Sancta Maria College) in 1964 with an associate degree in English before earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Medaille College and a master’s degree in theology from Christ the King Seminary.

Sister Margy spent years teaching junior high school students, working in parishes as religious education director and pastoral associate and later serving on the Sisters of Mercy’s Buffalo leadership team.

She eventually returned to Trocaire as dean of students, a position she held for 10 years. She currently works as the school’s director of mission and service.

“I just love what happens at Trocaire,” she said in a recent interview. “The more I’m there, the more I love it. I get to see students’ lives change and transform.”

The history of the Sisters of Mercy

Catherine McAuley

The Sisters of Mercy began when Catherine McAuley chose to take her large inheritance and build a center in Ireland for women who had been victims of domestic violence and poverty. The first House of Mercy opened on Sept. 24, 1827 in Dublin as a space to shelter and educate women and children.

The Archbishop of Dublin was so impressed by McAuley’s good works that he advised her to establish a religious community. On Dec. 12, 1831, McAuley and two companions became the first Sisters of Mercy.

The first Sisters arrived in the U.S. from Ireland in 1843, and were asked to come to Buffalo in 1858 to help educate newly-arriving Irish immigrants. The work has continued to expand for over 160 years.

“In Western New York, a lot of us have worked in hospitals and schools,” Sister Margy said. “Now we serve on boards of several institutions, teach religious education, work in soup kitchens, train chaplains, work with the elderly and dying and even volunteer rocking newborns in the hospitals. That’s how we continue our influence.”

Trocaire’s relationship with the Sisters of Mercy

Trocaire students celebrate with the Sisters of Mercy

In 1958, the Sisters of Mercy founded Sancta Maria College to offer higher education to women of the Order. In 1967, the name of the college was officially changed to Trocaire – the Irish word for mercy. The college began to grant admission to lay female students in 1965 and male students in 1972.

Trocaire is one of the 16 members of the Conference for Mercy Higher Education, an alliance of Mercy colleges and universities that preserves the mission of the Sisters. In her role as director of mission and service, Sister Margy attends meetings with other mission officers each year in order to collaborate on how to preserve the mission in an academic setting.

“I consider myself to be a storyteller,” Sister Margy said. “When I represent Trocaire in speaking to the college and community, I strive to keep the original heartbeat of the mission alive so that students are empowered and prepared to work in the service of others.”

In addition, Sister Margy works as the director of service learning. In this position, she assists students to complete community service in over 30 placements around WNY.

“Trocaire continuously aligns itself with the mission,” Sister Margy said. “The Sisters of Mercy work to provide opportunities for people in need, and Trocaire has consistently given extra help to provide a second chance for success.”

She is also on the president’s council, where she meets with other members each week to oversee all areas of the college and make decisions related to academic issues and implementing the college’s strategic plan.

Trocaire values, Sisters of Mercy tradition

“I’m lucky that I am surrounded by others at Trocaire who value the Sisters of Mercy’s tradition,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it all on my own.”

Sister Margy was excited to announce that she just received final approval for a new Heritage wall display to be created for Trocaire.

“The display will serve as a visible, tangible reminder of the Sisters of Mercy’s early days at the college, the present and plans for the future, along with the mission that has brought us up through it all,” she said. “We are all a part of the story now!”