Roman Catholic nun and missionary,
was born in Dublin, and studied at the school
of the Loreto Sisters. Her sister also entered the
Sisters of Mercy, and two of her brothers became priests, one of
them a chaplain in the British army who died at the Khyber Pass,
in the Punjab campaign of 1848-1849.
In 1845 Evangelist Fitzpatrick joined the Sisters
of Mercy at their house in Baggot Street, Dublin, being trained by
mother Vincent Whitty. After her profession
she was appointed bursar and was involved in important decisions made at that time, when
Maguire (later of Geelong) was the Superior. Fr. Anthony Fahy invited the Sisters of Mercy to establish in
Argentina, and Fitzpatrick was asked to lead the
group of seven nuns on the mission. Before leaving,
Evangelista Fitzpatrick went to Belfast
to make a retreat in preparation for the venture. The
Sisters of Mercy arrived in Buenos Aires on 24 February 1856,
led by mother E. Fitzpatrick, and including Baptist O'Donnell,
Catherine Flannigan and Joseph Griffin (who were the only
professed besides the mothers), Rose Foley, a lay novice, and
two postulants. Fr. John Cullen was in the same ship with them.
Once in Argentina
Fitzpatrick and the nuns opened the Irish Hospital
(1858), an orphanage, a school for poor children of all
nationalities, another convent in Mercedes (1872), as
well as a paying day and boarding school for children
of Irish parentage (1878). They also had to confront feuds
between the Spanish-speaking clergy and the Irish chaplains,
as well as opposition from the wealthy Irish settlers.
Their only support seemed to come from the indigenous
people and the very poor. The Sisters
of Mercy had an exemplary role assisting the sick. However
death took a heavy toll. One Sister succumbed to the cholera
epidemic in 1868. By 1878, seventeen had died from various
causes. It was a hard day for them when Fr. Fahy died.
He had supported the Sisters against bitter attacks and
tried to win for them the support of the Irish. During the years, free-masonry
was very strong and anti-clericalism was rife.
In 1880, under
violent threats causing fears for the nuns' safety,
Evangelist Fitzpatrick returned to Dublin to consult about their
future. While there, she met Bishop Reynolds of Adelaide,
who invited them to establish in Australia. As
the situation in Buenos Aires did not improve,
his offer and arrived in Adelaide in May of that year.
In Adelaide, the Sisters of Mercy felt very welcome and soon were busy
teaching and visiting. Shortly afterwards, M. Fitzpatrick
set off with half the community for Mt. Gambier,
where she left Baptist McDonnell in charge. Evangelist Fitzpatrick died
in Australia in 1885. The Sisters of Mercy returned to
Argentina in 1890.
- Sisters of Mercy of Australia
(www.mercysisters.org.au), accessed 13 November 2003.
Santiago M., Las Hermanas de la Misericordia 1856-1956
(Buenos Aires, 1955).