The Religious Sisters of Charity or Irish Sisters of Charity is a Roman Catholic religious institute founded by Mary Aikenhead in Ireland on 15 January 1815. Its motto is Caritas Christi urget nos ('The love Christ urges us on'; 2 Corinthians 5:14).
The institute has its headquarters in Dublin. The congregation is governed by a congregational leader, assisted by a group of sisters known as the general leadership team or the general council. In England and Scotland, it operates as a registered charity. The Religious Sisters of Charity of Australia is constituted as a distinct Congregation.
The religious institute was founded by Mary Frances Aikenhead (1787–1858) who opened its first convent in Dublin in 1815. In 1834 St. Vincent's Hospital in Dublin was set up by Mary Aikenhead (the first hospital staffed by nuns in the English-speaking world).
In 1838 five sisters arrived in Australia — the first religious women to set foot on Australian soil — and later opened a convent in Parramatta. Since 1842 the Australian congregation has operated independently.
In 1845, Mother Aikenhead had been advised for health reasons to move to the country. She purchased “Greenmount”, a late 18th century house at Harold’s Cross. Renamed "Our Lady’s Mount", it became the motherhouse of the congregation, housing the novitiate and a school. In 1879, the motherhouse was moved to Mount St. Anne's in Milltown. The Sisters operate a heritage centre within the grounds of Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, Dublin.
The community is active in Ireland, England, Scotland, Australia, California, Nigeria, Zambia and Malawi, serving in health care, education, pastoral and social work, catechesis, home visitation, home for the handicapped and adult education. The Generalate is located at Sandymount, Dublin
In 1821 the Governor of Kilmainham Gaol asked sisters to visit women inmates; prison visitation remains an important ministry for the Congregation. The Stanhope Street Primary School, Dublin originally opened in 1867. A new building on the same site continues to educate students. In keeping with their work with the homeless, in June 2017 the Religious Sisters of Charity launched the opening of 28 new homes for disabled, homeless and vulnerable people, in Harold’s Cross, Dublin.
The Religious Sisters of Charity arrived in Nigeria in 1961. In Lagos, Nigeria the sisters staff St. Joseph’s Clinic, Kirikiri.
- When the congregation's motherhouse moved to Mount St. Anne's in 1879, the sisters opened Our Lady's Hospice at Harold's Cross, pioneering the modern hospice movement. By the following year, it had a capacity of forty beds.
- In December 2003, Our Lady's Hospice opened a satellite unit for specialist palliative care in Blackrock, Co. Dublin, provided through the generosity of the Louis and Zelie Martin Foundation.
- In 1905 they established St. Joseph's Hospice in Hackney. In August 1939, St. Joseph’s Hospice was taken over as an Air Raid Casualty Station and the patients moved to a nursing home in Bath. In 1952, Cicely Saunders, a pioneer in palliative care came to work at St. Joseph's, where she would remain for seven years, researching pain control. The hospice subsequently became a limited company and took over the convent for additional space, while St. Joseph's Convent was relocated to a new building on the grounds with a dedicated care component.
- The community expanded its work to Scotland in 1948, and two years later opened St. Margaret's Hospice in Clydebank. Due to increased demand, in September 1971 a new St. Margaret of Scotland Hospice, with a sixty bed capacity was opened nearby. That too has subsequently been expanded.
- In 1957, at the request of Bishop James Scanlan of Motherwell, four sisters, with the assistance of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul established a Nursing Home for the frail elderly and terminally ill at Assumption House in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. Initially providing thirteen beds, by 1965 it accommodated twenty-one. By the end of the 1970s it became apparent that much of the space was occupied by long-term elderly patients, to the almost the complete exclusion of the terminally ill. Additional space was needed, and as Assumption House required significant repair, the sisters arranged to take over the former St. Margaret's School. St. Andrew's Hospice opened in 1986 with a capacity for thirty beds; an extension was added in 2006 for offices and administration.
The Sisters of Charity is one of 18 religious congregations which managed residential institutions for children investigated by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, and was party to the 2002, €128-million indemnity agreement with the Republic of Ireland State. The Commission's work started in 1999 and it published its public report, commonly referred to as the Ryan report, on 20 May 2009. Following publication of the Ryan report in 2009 the Sisters of Charity offered to contribute a further €5 million towards the €1.5 billion redress costs incurred by the State involving former residents of the institutions.
As of 2017, the Sisters of Charity had contributed just €2 million of their 2009 offer. The Sisters of Charity congregation has also to complete its contribution to the 2002 indemnity agreement. It owns one of 11 properties yet to be transferred to the State before terms of the 2002 agreement are fulfilled.
In 1993, a mass grave containing 155 corpses was uncovered in the convent grounds of one of the former laundries in Dublin. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child ultimately called for a government inquiry. A formal state apology was issued in 2013, and a £50-60 million compensation scheme for survivors was set up. Neither the Catholic Church, nor the four religious institutes that ran the Irish asylums have as yet contributed to the survivor's fund, despite demands from the Irish government, and the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
Senator Martin McAleese chaired an Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. An Interim Report was released in October 2011. In 2013 the BBC did a special investigation, Sue Lloyd-Roberts' "Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nuns."  The Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, and Sisters of Charity, have ignored requests by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Committee Against Torture to contribute to the compensation fund for victims, including 600 still alive in March 2014. In 2013 the Sisters of Charity, along with the three other religious congregations which managed Magdalene laundries, announced that they would not be making any contribution to the State redress scheme for women who had been in the laundries.
- "Congregational structure". Religious Sisters of Charity. Retrieved 19 April 2017.[dead link]
- Charity Commission. Religious Sisters Of Charity, registered charity no. 231323.
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- Religious Sisters of Charity -English/Scottish Province
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- Margaret Molloy (28 November 2014). Agnes Morrogh-Bernard: Foundress of Foxford Woollen Mills. Mercier Press, Limited. ISBN 978-1-78117-330-5.
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- "Investigate Magdalen Abuses: UN", Irish Examiner, June 7, 2011
- Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. https://maggiemcneill.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/magdalene-report-2-5-13.pdf
- "Demanding justice for women and children abused by Irish nuns" BBC Magazine, 23 September 2013. https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29307705
- Ireland’s Forced Labour Survivors. BBC Assignment. 18 October 2014. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p028rz97
- Donovan, Margaret. M. (1979bc). Apostolate of Love: Mary Aikenhead, 1787–1858, Foundress of the Irish Sisters of Charity. Melbourne: Polding Press.
- Meenan, F. O. C. (1995). St Vincent's Hospital 1834-1994. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-7171-2151-9.
- Whitaker, Anne-Maree (2007). St Vincent's Hospital 1857-2007: 150 Years of Charity, Care and Compassion. Kingsclear Books. ISBN 978-0-908272-88-4