1887

Our Founding

Chicago Archbishop Patrick Feehan, a native of Tipperary, Ireland, convened a group of priests and pressed them for a solution to the growing crisis of homeless boys who filled the city’s most dangerous streets. As a result, the Rev. Dennis Mahoney outlined a plan for a working boys home that Feehan quickly endorsed. He assigned Fr. Louis Campbell to run it. Fr. Campbell opened the home in temporary quarters above a library on LaSalle Street, in the shadows of the Chicago Board of Trade Building. He originally names it St. Paul’s Home for Working Boys. Later that same year, the facility is incorporated as a distinct organization within the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and renamed it the Mission of Our Lady of Mercy.

1889

A Permanent Home Purchased

Fr. Dennis Mahoney takes charge after Fr. Campbell falls ill. He raises a modest down payment to purchase a private residence at what is today 1140 W. Jackson Blvd., just west of downtown Chicago. The site has been the permanent home to Mercy Home’s headquarters ever since, and it’s where our boys campus operates today.

1909

Jackson Boulevard Building Built

Monsignor C.J. Quille opens a bright, modern new home for our children that replaces the existing old residences on West Jackson Blvd. It remains the nucleus of our Hay Boys Campus today.

1919

Fr.Quille starts Vocational Programs

Fr. Quille opens a trade school where the boys will learn bricklaying, carpentry, painting, candle making and more. This tradition of preparing young people to become self reliant and successful continues in the job skills and career preparation programs we offer today.

1934

Fr. Edward Kelly Arrives

Fr. Edward Kelly arrived amidst the Great Depression. Kelly brought the Catholic Youth Organization’s athletic program to the Home’s gymnasium and basement, where a boxing ring was installed. During his 39 years as Mercy Home’s president, he was dubbed “the Apostle for Boys” by the Chicago Daily News.

1973

Rev. Close Takes the Helm

Rev. James J. Close takes the helm following Fr. Kelly’s death. In his 33 years as its president, Close will dramatically expand the Home to serve more and more children.

1981

AfterCare Program Launched

Mercy Home begins a program of AfterCare to support the continued success of youth as they move beyond Mercy Home.

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Walsh Campus

1987

Mercy Home Celebrates its Centennial with Expansion

After caring for boys for a century, Mercy Home has the opportunity to open a new home for young women in the former Walgreen family mansion on Chicago’s South Side. That same year, our new Friends First mentoring program starts training adult volunteers to serve as role models to young people in need who live throughout the community.

2003

Mercy Home opens the Rev. James J. Close residence hall for boys on its Hay Campus

This new facility, which increased our capacity on the boys campus by 40%, enables Mercy Home to provide healing for more children in need than ever before.

2006

Fr. Close retires and Fr. Donahue assumes full leadership of Mercy Home, becoming its eighth and current president.

2012

New Ridgeland property secured

Mercy Home for Boys & Girls celebrates its 125th anniversary by expanding its services to aftercare members and their families through its supportive housing program. Work begins on rehabilitating a donated, vacant apartment building in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood that will provide safe, affordable, transitional housing when it opens the following year.