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Mary Cecilia Maher

Mary Cecilia Maher (13 September 1799 – 10 October 1878) was a New Zealand religious sister, teacher, and social worker.

She born in Freshford, County Kilkenny, Ireland on 13 September 1799, as Ellen Maher. She entered St Leo's Convent, in Carlow in 1838, becoming a Sister of Mercy, and taking on the religious name of Mary Cecilia Maher. In 1849 Bishop Pompallier visited seeking nuns to emigrate; eight left from St Leo's, led by Maher. They travelled to New Zealand, learning Māori along the way, establishing the Sisters of Mercy in Auckland as the first female religious community in New Zealand in 1850.[1][2]

The Sisters of Mercy maintained a number of girls schools and convents, initially in Auckland, then in Thames after the 1867 gold rush, and eventually across New Zealand.[1] Maher was superior from 1850–1867 and 1870–1877, before dying in 1878.[3]

Further readingEdit

  • Simmons, E. R. In cruce salus. Auckland, 1982
  • Simmons, E. R. Pompallier. Auckland, 1984
  • Sisters of Mercy, Auckland. Gracious is the time: centenary of the Sisters of Mercy, Auckland, 1850–1950. Auckland, 1952


  • Kirk, Marcienne D. (1998). Remembering Your Mercy: Mother Mary Cecilia Maher and the First Sisters of Mercy in New Zealand, 1850–1880. Sisters of Mercy.


  1. ^ a b Delany, Veronica. "Mary Cecilia Maher". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Sisters of Mercy New Zealand | Auckland 1850 - A Voyage Made 'Only for God'". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  3. ^ Kirk, Marcienne D. "Mother Cecilia Maher". Mercy World. Retrieved 27 April 2014.