The Sisters of Mercy in this story actually first arrived in New Zealand in 1878. The had travelled all the way from Ireland to Hokitika, on the West Coast. Read about why these Sisters of Mercy first came to Hokitika, and about their amazing journey in Southern Founding Story.

The Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus had lived and worked in Timaru since 1880. They had taken over teaching at Sacred Heart Parish School, and had soon opened a new boarding school within their large new Convent. However, by 1935 circumstances changed due to the depression and the Sacred Heart nuns had decided it was time to leave Timaru. The Sisters of Mercy were asked whether they would take their place, and set up a community in Timaru.

Sacred Heart Girls’ College

The Mercy Sisters agreed, so at the end of 1935 the Sisters of Mercy bought the large Sacred Heart convent, and a number of Sisters from Christchurch moved in to begin work in the Timaru community.

Once the Sisters had settled into their new convent home, they began teaching at Sacred Heart Primary School. The Sisters also moved their novitiate from Christchurch to the Convent in Timaru. A novitiate is a special place where young women learn how to become Sisters of Mercy.

The Sisters spent many years teaching at Sacred Heart College – Roncalli College (renamed Mercy College), St Catherine’s College Primary School, St Joseph’s Parish School and St Mary’s Primary School in Timaru North. They also set up All Hallows School in Geraldine.

Sisters taught music and speech, visited families in their community, and always spent time praying for the people of Timaru.
Timaru Schools

Sacred Heart Parish School
Sacred Heart College – Roncalli College
All Hallows School, Geraldine
St Joseph’s Parish School
St Catherine’s College Primary School