The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy was established in December, 1829 in Charleston, South Carolina by John England, first Bishop of Charleston. He called the institute "The Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy". The point of reference used by him for the new order was the Sisters of Charity established by Elizabeth Seton.
The Constitution was written by the second Bishop of Charleston, Ignatius Reynolds. He based the Constitution on that of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, whom he knew because he was a native of Kentucky, and on the simple rule given to the Sisters by Bishop England, which was based on the rule of Vincent de Paul. In 1949 a new Constitution was adopted and the word "Charity" was added to the community's name, in order to identify the institute with others that live by Vincent's rule.
The community is a Diocesan Congregation. Consequently, when separate dioceses were established for Savannah, Georgia and Wilmington, Delaware, sisters living in those convents became independent of the foundation in Charleston.
The Mission of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy is:
We, Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy, the religious congregation founded by Bishop John England in Charleston, South Carolina in 1829, follow Christ by living prayerfully in a supportive community dedicated to the service of God's people.
We strive to carry out our consecration in the spirit of the Beatitudes with the humility, simplicity and compassion evidenced by our patroness, Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Ministries of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy include:
- Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach Services
- parish ministry
- pastoral counseling
In 1976-1977, the Sisters established an associate program; it was re-framed in 1989 in an effort to find ways in which Sisters and lay associates might share prayer life and ministry.