Catherine McAuley’s Comfortable Cup of Tea

Blog Published: November 29, 2006
By Sister Julie

I recently received an email from a student doing a paper on Catherine McAuley. She asked if Catherine had any symbols associated with her. Not knowing off the top of my head, I headed to web sites of the Sisters of Mercy (whom Catherine founded in 1831). To my great delight, I discovered that one of the symbols associated with Catherine is “a comfortable cup of tea.” Here’s what I found on the web site of the Sisters of Mercy in Wellington, New Zealand:

Comfortable Cup of Tea When Catherine McAuley was dying, many of the sisters gathered around her bedside to say good-bye and to pray the prayers for the dying. Not long before she died, at the end of a long day of waiting, she said to one of the sisters: “Be sure you have a comfortable cup of tea for them when I am gone.” Ever since, the comfortable cup of tea has been a symbol of the warm and caring relationships which were at the heart of Catherine McAuley’s Mercy vision.

Not being a huge tea drinker, I think I will now look at my morning cup of coffee in a new light … my comfortable cup of coffee. And when I do, I’ll think of Catherine’s warmth and compassion … a great way to start the day.

Archived Comments

Sister Carolyn Brink, RSM November 29, 2006 at 10:46 am

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. I am a Sister of Mercy who has been inspired by Catherine’s life and work with poor women and children. It is great to know that someone is writing a paper about her.
Sister Carolyn

Sandy December 6, 2006 at 12:07 am

I’m not an RSM, but I have lived with some of them. I may not have this exactly right, but I think the adjective “comfortable” refers to a little “extra” something added to the tea (whiskey).

Julie McAuley April 21, 2007 at 1:21 am

It is great to know that such a dedicated and worthy woman is being honored. Catherine McAuley is from what i have been told is a great great aunt of mine. I am pleased to say that i have followed in her footsteps as far as the fact that i work for a charity myself and find it very rewarding. I’m honored to have Catherine in my bloodline.

Sister Julie April 23, 2007 at 6:10 am

Julie, What a delight to meet you. You are very blessed indeed. Thank you for stopping by. Sister Julie

Adria September 27, 2007 at 2:30 pm

They should do a movie about her life…she is a role model for all women!

Sister Julie September 27, 2007 at 6:40 pm

She most certainly is a fabulous role model, Adria!

deerose September 27, 2007 at 8:39 pm

A sister from our parish, a Sister of Mercy, just celebrated her 50th year in religious life. We threw her a big party in the parish hall. Her gift – a floral, porcelain tea set – so she too could offer her guests a “comfortable cup of tea.” I like the whiskey idea!

Cathy Keller September 28, 2007 at 6:01 am

As a graduate of Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, in Denver,CO. I have long been proud of my connection to the Sisters of Mercy. A short biography THE LADY FROM DUBLIN by William Breault, S.J. is simple biograpy on his search for the answers about Catherine. It is interesting and his sketches in the book are simple but inviting. It’s an easy read and allows the reader to take this journey with him. I loved reading it too, because I had just returned from a visit to Dublin and knew of some of the places he mentioned. Thanks again for all you do to arouse in me reflection and moments to ponder.

Sue Driscoll July 14, 2008 at 8:00 am

I never drank a cup of tea in my life until I learned of Catherine McAuley and her wonderful mission of helping those in need. My first cup came as I became the Tea Manager at the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa ten years ago. I am hooked on both Catherine’s Comfortable Tea and fulfilling the mission of caring on Catherine McAuley’s work of serving the poor and undereducated.

I work with a group of volunteers that also belive in the this mission as they hand-fill each Catherine’s Comfortable Teabag with quality loose leaf tea. We sell the Catherine’s Comfortable Tea all over the United States to socially conscious consumers who support the education and housing programs the Catherine McAuley Center provide. Each teabag contains an insightful Catherine McAuley quote. A great way to relax, enjoy a cup of tea and ponder the words of Catherine McAuley.

Catherine McAuley was an incredible woman and now many wonderful women carry on her mission.

Sister Julie July 14, 2008 at 9:12 am

Thanks so much for writing us, Sue!

shauna October 30, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I had worked for Mercy Hospitals as an RN for a few years and I took with me this saying. It pleases me so much to have a real “mission” and a purpose with a cause that was started by such a beautiful person. When it was hard to be a nurse I would think of her over these passing years. I am planning to return to “the real world” soon and open a small business, but until then pray for me too as I continue working for a Hospice and loving and caring for those like McAuley had done in her lifetime.

Shelley May 20, 2009 at 2:54 am

I work at the Mercy Centre in Brisbane Australia which was founded by the Mercy Sisters in Australia. We recently went on a Heritage Tour and learnt about Catherine and her vision and mission in life – what an absolute inspiration she was! We are soon to open a drop in centre and my first thought was of Catherines “comfortable cup of tea” . My task now is to come up with a name for the Centre and want to know if anyone has any ideas.

ashley June 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm

thank you very much for the help. I appreciate it lots. turns out i got an A+ on my assignment because of ur help!!!!

Sister Julie July 1, 2009 at 6:50 am

Congrats, Ashley!

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