Sisters of the Divine Compassion
The Sisters of the Divine Compassion are a Roman Catholic religious institute founded in New York City in 1886 by Mother Mary Veronica – formerly Mary Dannat Starr – Msgr. Thomas Preston and a group of young women moved by the "Compassion of God" in their lives and a desire to bring that compassion to New York City’s destitute children in real and tangible ways.
The congregation began as many others of the time: women gathered together to "do something" about the plight of the children of New York’s poor. For Starr and her companions it was through their Association for Befriending Children and Young Girls. The group provided shelter, training and religious education to girls left to fend for themselves or sent by their families into the street to beg. Most importantly, the women provided safety, love and hope.
Over time Starr and Preston recognized that the future of their work depended on the stability of the organization that provided it, and so the Sisters of the Divine Compassion came into being. Starr became Mother Mary Veronica. The first ministry of the congregation was at the House of the Holy Family at 136 Second Avenue in Manhattan. By the 1890s, the Sisters were also in charge of the Association for Befriending Children and Young Girls at the Second Avenue address and the House of Our Lady for Business Girls at 52-54 East 126th Street in Manhattan.
By the late 1890s, the Congregation and its ministry to children and young women were flourishing. At the same time, the area around Second Avenue was becoming increasingly commercialized and less conducive to their work. With the advent of commuter rail travel and widespread use of the telephone the "country" was becoming the "suburbs", and Mother Veronica decided on an expansive property and estate in White Plains, New York, in Westchester County, for a novitiate and relocation of the ministry, creating the Good Counsel Training School for Young Girls and the Vacation House for Working Girls there. From 1894 to 1925, the historic home Mapleton housed the convent.
In the 1920s the Sisters of the Divine Compassion were invited to staff seven parish schools and at the same time were developing and solidifying a private high school, Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and a women’s college, Good Counsel College. Over the years, the congregation opened a second high school, Preston High School, this time in the Bronx, and served as educators in over 25 parishes in Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester, and Putnam counties. In 1972, Good Counsel College became the College of White Plains, which was merged with Pace University in 1976.
The Sisters of the Divine Compassion today are a vibrant religious community of vowed members, lay associates and partners committed "to proclaim and witness by our lives and service the Compassionate Presence of God in our world."
- Larry E. Gobrecht (March 1976). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Mapleton". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
- John A. Bonafide (October 1996). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Good Counsel Complex". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-12-24.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Sister Mary Teresa. The Fruit of His Compassion. Pageant Press, 1962