Jesuit & Mercy Sponsors

Ignatius Loyola and Catherine McAuley

University of Detroit Mercy's religious sponsors —the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas — continue an active commitment to the University in a variety of functions. The Jesuits and Sisters of Mercy serve as faculty and staff members, administrators, Board trustees and engaged alumni. In their specific roles, they each ensure that Detroit Mercy reflects its mission "to integrate the intellectual, spiritual, ethical and social development of students."

Detroit Mercy is Jesuit and Mercy

Detroit Mercy's Catholic identity also reflects the tradition of our religious sponsors: the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

The Society of Jesus

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 to Spanish nobility and was a respected courtier and soldier. While convalescing from a serious battlefield injury, Ignatius became aware of a profound calling that led him on a journey of spiritual depth, discernment and education, with a desire to help others and led to the founding, with several companions, of the Society of Jesus in 1540.

The members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) originally focused on spiritual development and social service, but found that education was a way to influence people and improve the world. Their approach integrated the best educational systems from history and imbued it with principles derived from Ignatius’ own spiritual experience -- concern for the growth of each student individually, an

affirmation of the goodness of the world with its valuing of each academic discipline, critical reflection on experience, a sense of community, awareness of the needs of the world around them and a commitment to serve.

In 2019, the Jesuits focused their efforts on four apostolic preferences to serve as a guide for everything they do. Those preferences are to show the way to God through the Spiritual Exercises, walk with the excluded and outcasts of the world, accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future, and care for our common home.

Sisters of Mercy

The Religious Sisters of Mercy is an order of Catholic women founded by Venerable Catherine McAuley in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland.

Catherine received a substantial inheritance from an elderly couple she had served for 20 years to build what she called a House of Mercy that provided shelter for homeless women, healthcare for poor women and education for young, disadvantaged girls. From the time of the founding of the order until her death 10 years later, Catherine founded convents and other houses of Mercy across Ireland and England. Mercy sisters first came to the United States in 1843 and settled in Pittsburgh, where they began educating young people.

Central to a Mercy education are the tenets of excellence, leadership and character. It is rooted in the values of the Gospel, student-centered and recognizes the dignity of each person. It is multicultural, led with mercy and compassion, and committed to justice. Mercy education retains these values even as it reinvents itself to adapt to the times. In 2011, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas affirmed an intensified commitment to the critical concerns of immigration, nonviolence, anti-racism, taking care of the Earth and women’s issues.

Like the original House of Mercy, which still stands on Baggott Street in Dublin, Mercy education is a testament to the faith and vision of its founder, Catherine McAuley.

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    Spiritual Traditions and Programs

    Feast Days

    Sisters of Mercy Foundation Day, Dec. 12

    On December 12, 1831, Catherine McAuley, Mary Ann Doyle and Elizabeth Harley professed vows as the first Religious Sisters of Mercy. The new Community of Mercy undertook a mission to serve the poor, sick and uneducated. The Sisters of Mercy commemorate December 12 each year as Foundation Day, with Mercy companions, associates, volunteers and partners in ministry around the world to celebrate the beginning of the Mercy Institute. For more on Foundation Day, see the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community site.

    Mercy Day, September 24

    The Sisters of Mercy celebrate Mercy Day on September 24 in recognition of the date on which Catherine McAuley began the first House of Mercy on Baggot Street in Dublin, Ireland. She used the resources she had available to build a home for women who had none, and to educate those whom she could. She and her Sisters walked the streets to care for the sick poor. They came home to the House of Mercy where they lived, prayed, worked and celebrated.

    St. Ignatius Loyola Feast Day, July 31

    The Society of Jesus was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius Loyola, a Basque nobleman and soldier, who found God in all things. Today there are over 20,000 Jesuits serving the Church in 112 nations on six continents. The Jesuit order is based on the values of intellect, faith, compassion and service for others.

    Spiritual Programs

    Busy Persons Retreats

    The Busy Person's Retreat is offered annually by University Ministry. For a week, a student or faculty member is paired up with a spiritual guide. The person and the guide meet for 30 minutes a day in a convenient place for prayer and reflection.

    Spiritual Opportunities for Students

    University Ministry will support your personal development! But the following activities are designed especially to facilitate your personal growth through reflection, input and interaction. In one-on-one or small-group settings tailored to the individuals involved, you can focus in on where you're at, what you need, and how the Spirit of God is moving... in you!

    • Horizons Retreat for Incoming Freshmen
    • Liturgical Ministry Retreat
    • Christian Life Community

    Lenten Spiritual Exercises Series

    John Staudenmaier, S.J. presents a selection of the Jesuit Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The selections are available as podcasts. To hear the talks, go to the Spiritual Exercises series page.

    Spiritual Exercises

    Fr. Simon Hendry, S.J., leads faculty and staff in weekly sessions of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises during the school year.