Mercy Family Ribbon Cutting

Recognizing Sister Diane: Shining a Light on her Dedication for Catholic Sisters Week

“We should all be shining lamps, giving light to those around us.” – Catherine McAuley, Foundress of The Sisters of Mercy

The Sisters of Mercy founded Mercy Housing in 1981. With the vision of providing affordable housing with Resident Services to people with low incomes, these visionary Sisters laid the foundation for Mercy Housing to be more than four walls and a roof. After more than 40 years, we persist in championing their groundbreaking vision by introducing innovative solutions within affordable housing communities, ensuring residents receive uninterrupted services throughout the year.

Wearing her hard hat, Sister Diane looks out the window at Mercy Family Plaza before construction begins.

Built on the core values of Respect, Justice, and Mercy, Mercy Housing has remained dedicated to the original goals established by the Sisters – to speak and act in the belief that housing is a basic human right, no matter a person’s religion, race, background, or beliefs.

Among the Sisters of Mercy was a young woman, Diane Clyne. Diane was a strong proponent of bringing affordable housing to California and was instrumental in helping to establish Mercy Housing in the Golden State.

Entering the Sisters of Mercy

A native of San Francisco and an early affordable housing advocate, Sister Diane entered the Sisters of Mercy when she was 21. As her mother’s caretaker a few years later, she realized that she needed a flexible schedule, and working on collaborative housing initiatives piqued her interest. She recalls, “I saw an invitation to a housing meeting that took place in Milwaukee. The inspiration of coming together with a group that might come from our values to promote justice and really develop in this ministry was really exciting to me.”

Mercy Family Plaza Pre Development
Sister Diane worked on developing Mercy Family Plaza in San Francisco – Pre-Development

Inspired by the women who were committed to bringing justice to people with limited income, Sister Diane soon joined Mercy Housing and helped to open its brand-new office in the Bay Area followed by the first Mercy Housing community in California. “It was sort of a closet affair. It was a desk at the end of a hallway with no windows and no doors and no way to have privacy,” she reflected. “We set up files and began to work immediately on the development at Mercy Family Plaza.” Once completed it was home to 36 families.

Mercy Housing’s first affordable housing community in California, Mercy Family Plaza is now home to low-income families.

“There was so much learning in the entire process. Every inch was based on learning as we went along. And we had great teams,” Sister Diane shared.

Today, Mercy Housing California has grown to be the largest regional branch of Mercy Housing, Inc., with 160 affordable housing communities across 36 counties.

An International Calling

After seven years with Mercy Housing, Sister Diane moved on to work on international housing needs. She lived in El Salvador and Peru and was the Director of Development serving eight countries including Honduras and Panama.  Following two devastating hurricanes in 2020, Eta and Iota, which destroyed homes and infrastructure, she addressed housing and clean water needs.

Today, Sister Diane lives in San Francisco and is working for immigration and refugee justice in the United States, focused on supporting policies that respect the humanity and dignity of every individual who seeks refuge.

When asked what she would share with current employees of Mercy Housing, Sister Diane said, “Continue the creation of safe and loving and generous spaces where all of us get to grow as a community. And each one of us can make a real difference in [creating] a bigger world. It’s always about the people.  We don’t go into a community until we’ve done the work with the community.”

Read More About The Mercy Housing Story