We are a Catholic College; the foundation for everything we do is our Catholic faith, which we express through our Mercy charism.

Villa Maria College aims to offer spiritual formation and pastoral care in the tradition of Catherine McAuley, and the Sisters of Mercy who founded the College in 1918.



MISSION STATEMENT: Empowering each young woman to determine her potential, live Gospel values, confidently embrace life-long learning and as a Mercy woman be inspired to make a difference.


MOTTO: That you may learn to Prize what is of Value – Ut Probetis Potiora
Ut Probetis Potiora, Learn to Prize what is of Value, comes from the Latin version of the scriptures. In 1961, Sister Pauline O’Regan (then Sister Jerome, Principal of Villa Maria College), asked Father Basil Blake to suggest a Latin motto. He thought long and hard before coming up with suitable words not long before his death.
The scripture text is from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: (1:3-6, 9-10a,11. New Revised Standard Version)


MERCY ATTRIBUTES: At the heart of our College are the attributes of Mercy:

  • Education that is grounded in the Gospel
  • Respect for the dignity, worth and potential of every human being
  • Concern for the poor and the disadvantaged
  • Concern for justice



  • Whakaute – Respect
  • Tika – Justice
  • Manaakitanga – Hospitality


When she founded the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley designed an ivory cross upon an ebony one, or a ‘cross upon a cross’ for them to wear with their Rosary.

In Catherine McAuley’s time it was difficult for the Sisters to wear a crucifix, a Catholic symbol, in Protestant governed Ireland. So Catherine introduced the idea of a cross upon a cross.

She told the Sisters that they were to imagine that it is themselves who are placed in the white inner cross, through their acts of Mercy and love. The black cross and surrounding silver cross recall the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, while the central cross reminds today’s Sisters of the transformation of self to which all are called and to which vowed members dedicate themselves.

The Mercy Cross is only worn by Sisters of Mercy.