Mother M. Irenaeus Dougherty

Pittsburgh native Mother M. Irenaeus Dougherty, in her role as Religious Superior of the Sisters of Mercy, with Sister Regis Grace, was co-founder of Mount Mercy College and its first President. During her 18 year tenure, the college enrollment increased 600 percent. New buildings were built: Aquinas Hall in 1936, Trinity Hall (which currently houses the kindergarten of The Campus School of Carlow University) in 1931, and Antonian Hall in 1948. As a leader of the Pittsburgh Mercy community, she was also instrumental in the growth of Mercy Hospital and St. Xavier Academy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania as well as the establishment of a mission of the Sisters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She was a life-long friend of Saint Katherine Drexel, the foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a community of religious Sisters dedicated to the education of Native American and Afro-American peoples.

Sister M. Regis Grace

Together with Mother Iranaeus Dougherty, Sister M. Regis Grace was a Co-Founder of Mount Mercy College in 1929. She was its first Academic Dean and a Professor of Philosophy and Classical Languages. A native of Ohio, Sister Regis was the daughter of John Crawford Grace and Catherine Canevin. After graduating from St. Xavier Academy, Latrobe, Pennsylvania, she entered the Sisters of Mercy where she pronounced vows in 1912. She earned a B.A. from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and M.A. from the University of Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Saint Vincent College. On September 24, 1929, at the height of the Great Depression, Sister Regis Grace and Mother Iranaeus Dougherty opened Mount Mercy College with a freshman class of 24 students and a faculty of seven. The first classes were held in space made available in the Sisters' residence, St. Mary's Convent, and in Our Lady of Mercy Academy (now Tiernan Hall housing The Campus School of Carlow University).

Sister Eustochia McCormick, RSM

Sister Eustochia was one of eight Sisters of Mercy assigned to study at the Holy Ghost College (now Duquesne University). She continued her studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and later earned an MA from the University of Pittsburgh. She taught English and French at Mount Mercy College when it opened in 1929.

Sister M. Francis Xavier O'Reilly

Sister M. Francis Xavier O’Reilly was the first chair of the Biology Department at Mount Mercy College. She was proud of her career as a professor of biology, boasting that she sent more “lady medical technologists” into the profession than any other person. She was raised on a farm in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. “As a young girl she once directed rescue workers who saved five men – one her brother – trapped in a coal mine explosion.” (Obituary – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 7, 1953) She earned a PhD in chemistry with a minor in biology from the University of Michigan in 1937. Before joining the first faculty of Mount Mercy College she “operated a night school and taught mathematics and mining to immigrants.” (Ibid.) Some of her Mount Mercy College students went on to play important research roles in the development of polio and influenza vaccines at the University of Pittsburgh. Others worked on atomic energy projects.

Sister M. Fides Shepperson

Sister M. Fides Shepperson was born into a protestant family in Danville, Pennsylvania in 1867. She became a Catholic in 1886 entered the Sisters of Mercy two years later. As a young sister she taught in a school for Afro-American student on Wylie Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. In 1929, after several years of teaching high school she joined the faculty of Mount Mercy College as a history professor. She graduated from Holy Ghost College (Duquesne University) in 1911, the first woman to be granted a B.A. from that institution. After a year of study at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, she enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh where she became, in 1923, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy. She was recognized for “her wide knowledge of classical literature, history, philosophy and astronomy…” Widely known as a writer, she was deeply concerned with human rights and international peace. She founded the Society of St. Francis, an organization whose mission was to promote “world peace based on humane education in the schools."

Sister M. Philip Neri McCarthy, RSM

Thanks to Sister Philip Neri McCarthy, Mount Mercy College opened in 1929 with record-keeping systems and secretarial services in place. Before entering the Sisters of Mercy, she had worked as a secretary for United States Steel. In 1932, she earned a Masters degree in Business Administration from Duquesne University. In the twelve years that she taught at the College she also developed a four year Secretarial Services curriculum. Before joining the College faculty and professional staff, she taught in several parish grade schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and in three high schools staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. She also ministered at Mercy Hospital.