Dictionary of Irish Latin American Biography

Fitzpatrick, Evangelist (1822-1885), 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 mother Xavier 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, Fitzpatrick accepted 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.

Edmundo Murray


- Sisters of Mercy of Australia (, accessed 13 November 2003.

- Ussher, Santiago M., Las Hermanas de la Misericordia 1856-1956 (Buenos Aires, 1955). 

Copyright � Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

Online published: 1 December 2003
Edited: 07 May 2009

Murray, Edmundo, '
Fitzpatrick, Evangelist (1822-1885)' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" November-December 2005 (


The Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2005

 Copyright Information