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When the Sisters of Mercy came to Philadelphia in 1861, they immediately began an extension of the work of their foundress, Catherine McAuley. Among the region's early entrepreneurs, the Sisters set out to establish institutions to provide health care and education to the poor. Later, they settled permanently in Merion, Pennsylvania.
In 1947, Mother Mary Bernard Graham purchased an 84.5 acre estate in Gwynedd Valley for $100,000. Her entrepreneurial dream was to establish a college in a location that was considered too rural by many of her contemporaries. Known affectionately within the convent as "Bernard's folly," her visionary endeavor in a country setting, northwest of Philadelphia, opened for business in 1948 as Gwynedd-Mercy College.
Today, Gwynedd-Mercy College is home to nearly 3,000 students who study at the main campus in Gwynedd Valley and through satellite campuses in East Norriton, Bensalem and Center City Philadelphia. Like Catherine McAuley and the Sisters who came after her, Mother Bernard's story captures the true spirit of the Sisters of Mercy as visionaries, founders and entrepreneurs. Tributes to her legacy are made today through gifts to the Mary Bernard Graham Society.
Donors who remember Gwynedd-Mercy College in their estate plans may become members of the Mary Bernard Graham Society by notifying the Office of Institutional Advancement—215-641-5550.
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