Our History and Charism


Catherine McAuley founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.

In her youth Catherine had the opportunity to study the Old Testament and the Gospels; as a result Catherine developed a strong faith in God and came to believe that:

Mercy is the Way God Acts Towards People.

Catherine adopted the title of Mercy for her institute and she and her sisters expressed mercy in their love and service of the deprived, the rejected, the lonely, the weak, the lost; in other words, the poor.

Further, Catherine believed that EDUCATION bestowed a LIFE-GIVING POWER and that no work of Charity could be more productive or good for society nor more conducive to the happiness of the poor than education.

The young women of Dublin were the first to benefit from her vision, a vision that led to the establishment of schools and hospitals in many countries of the world, including Australia, before the end of the 19th Century.

At Burraneer, we are part of the Mercy heritage stretching back to those days in Dublin. True to the spirit, we believe it is through education that young women learn to live in a way that is keeping with their dignity as children of God.

The Story of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic College Burraneer


In 1935, the Sisters of Mercy (Parramatta Congregation) established Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) in a cottage at 6 Coast Avenue,

Cronulla. The earliest known enrolment was sixteen girls. OLMC operated as a small boarding school until 1939 when it was closed for a period of time during World War II as it was perceived to be in a potentially dangerous location.

By 1943, OLMC was reopened as a small day school, mainly to provide secondary education for girls, since there were no Catholic secondary schools for girls between Hurstville and Wollongong. In 1951, with an enrolment of seventy-four girls, student boarding at OLMC was discontinued.

Demand for secondary education in NSW was increasing and in 1956 the College was granted Leaving Certificate registration by the Education Department of NSW. With the existing cottage now too small, in 1959, the Sisters of Mercy purchased  the current property bounded by Dominic Street and Dolans Road at Burraneer Bay from Mr Charles Duncan who lived there for a number of years before leasing it to the Cronulla Country Club with two small bowling greens, a swimming pool, terraced lawn and garden. Alterations to the existing house allowed for a chapel, a convent for the sisters and a school of nine classrooms.


The College was officially blessed and opened on Sunday 16th October, 1960 by His Eminence N.T. Gilroy, then Archbishop of Sydney. The total number of students enrolled was 199 with seven staff and Sister M. Alphonsus the Principal.



In 1966 the Catholic Education Office established Our Lady of Mercy College as a Regional School and enrolments increased to 439. Temporary buildings were erected in 1967 on the bowling greens and the Science Block was completed.


In 1972, a cottage across Dominic Street was purchased and set up as the Art Cottage.

The early 1970s also saw the building of the Library and classroom extensions on the southern side  This block was officially opened by His Eminence Cardinal J. D.Freeman and the Hon. E. G. Whitlam, then Prime Minister on 1st December, 1974.In 1976, a Music room was built.


In 1982 the Sisters of Mercy Community moved out of the the Convent and in 1984 allowed the school to extend into this part of the building.

Building projects continued in this decade. Adjacent land was purchased to house an Art demountable. The existing College and Convent  buildings were linked, the basketball court was resurfaced and a Home Science area was developed. The new extensions were blessed and opened by Most Reverend Bishop D Cremin DD.

In 1989, after extensive community consultation, a new uniform was introduced replacing the traditional yellow and brown. With the uniform change came the current school colours of red, white and blue.

In 2000, Sr Loreto McLeod rsm was the last Sister of Mercy to be the Principal of OLMC.


The Art rooms moved back across to the main site and demountables across the road were removed. Extensive building work, namely the Mercy Centre, was completed in late 2003. The Mercy Centre included a multi-purpose hall, new music and practice rooms, and four new general classrooms. In 2010, the Staff/Administration Building was fully refurbished.

2011 – Present

With the growth of the College and the aging condition of the facilities, an extensive two stage building project began in 2014, supported by Sydney Catholic Schools. Stage 1 focused on development of the northern, Mercy side of the College. Extensions and refurbishments completed in 2015, transformed the Mercy Centre into a performing arts centre, as well as a centre for PDHPE, Languages and for general learning. With the completion of the Stage 1 building work, the outdoor areas were transformed into areas for recreation and sport.

The Stage 2 development required old buildings to be demolished and demountable classrooms removed on the southern side of the College. In their place emerged, in 2016, an eco-friendly and energy efficient building, the Catherine McAuley Building. The design of the Catherine McAuley Building puts pedagogy and relationships front and centre of learning at OLMC. The building focused on Science and Technology with the construction of three science laboratories and four with three science laboratories and four technology rooms allowing for teaching and learning in a range of mediums including wood, textiles, food and photography. Five flexible general learning classrooms as well as an open space allow for students to engage in diverse and collaborative learning experiences. The Catherine McAuley Building was officially blessed and opened by the Most Reverend R J Umbers DDVG Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney on Thursday 9th March, 2017.

Past Principals of OLMC
Sr. M Casimir Callachor 1945-1946
Sr. Jude Cashman 1947-1952
Sr. M. Alphonsus Stanley 1953-1962
Sr. Agatha Dunne 1963
Sr. Anne Ryan 1964
Sr. Paulinus Hartigan 1966
Sr. M. Immaculata Hegarty 1967-1971
Sr. Pauline Smith 1972-1976
Sr. Margaret Doyle 1977-1980
Sr. Loreto McLeod 1981-2000
Miss Deslee Browne 2001- 2006
Mrs Christina Trimble 2007-2010
Ms Gilda Pussich 2011-2017
Ms Ann Freeman 2018