The Community of St. Philomena’s Convent at the Mercy Care Centre, Highfields, Derby, decided that it would be very appropriate during the Year of Mercy to invite our new Bishop, Patrick McKinney, to visit the Care Centre and celebrate with the community, staff and residents.

The Care Centre is made up of three Registered Services, Mount Carmel House for elderly care, Beaumont House for those who have dementia and 18 Close to Care Apartments, making a total of over seventy residents on site. A programme was drawn up and the bishop agreed to attend on Sunday 5th June.

 On arrival we started with Mass at 11.30.a.m. in our chapel attended by three members of the Leadership Team, Sisters Barbara, Anne and Colette, as well as residents, staff, Sisters and Managers. We had around 16 residents in wheel chairs, four residents from the close to care apartments at Kinsale Court and around 28 walking residents from Beaumont House/Mount Carmel House making a total of about 28.

In addition we had our own community, 4 Care staff, the Manager and Deputy Manager who are all Catholics. Most of these residents come to weekly Mass and some on Wednesdays and Fridays as well.

The Bishop celebrated Mass assisted by Father Alan Burbidge who usually offers Mass for us. Bishop Patrick gave a lovely homily on mercy and left us with the thought that we have first to be mercy ourselves.


As the residents returned to their lunch we all met the Bishop in the community room until all the wheel chairs had been removed then it was our turn for lunch! Fortunately Julie and Mary, our cooks, had both agreed to come in on Sunday so the Sisters could enjoy the day. Including the two Managers, our dining room was full to capacity with 14 people present!

The Menu
Prawn cocktail/ melon
Roast Lamb/chicken
Roast/mashed potatoes
Various vegetables
Apple tart/ Strawberry Pavlova/Trifle


We then enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee in the Community Room while the Managers took the Bishop to visit Kinsale Court followed by Beaumont House and Mount Carmel House then finally at 3.30 p.m. we were joined by the Sisters from Bridge Gate, Ednaston and Beechwood for tea with the Bishop in Mount Carmel dining room.

The history of the 'Mercy Care Centre' makes interesting reading.
Land, was a crucial need in the post 1930s. Tthe Church site on Bridge Gate and Bridge Gate Convent itself were desperately overcrowded. In March 1947, after much prayer and legal advice, they purchased the ‘Highfields Estate,’ for the ‘Works of God.’

This was a property of eighty-four acres; It included four large houses, several smaller ones and a number of cottages.

 It was a great act of faith and foresight. Two Branch houses were created from the two largest properties: 'Highfields House' and 'Beechwood House.' The ministry in Highfields at first was education but as the years passed education developed on other areas of the estate.

At Beechwood Convent the decision was made to provide flats for the retired elderly. Once built, the flats would be self supporting and the Sisters would be a pastoral presence with one sister acting as Warden. The flats were ready for occupation in July 1977.

A natural progression from the ‘Beechwood Flats’ would be a Care Home to cater for the elderly when they were no longer able to care for themselves. This enterprise, called “Mount Carmel House Care Home” was a ‘new build’ on the area in 'Highfields Convent' occupied, earlier by St Philomena’s School Senior Department. Provision for internal access to Highfields Convent was included. It was officially blessed and opened on July 13th 1985.

I983 saw big changes in the Congregation of the The Sisters of Mercy in the UK. Sixteen small Mercy Congregations around the country, merged to become:

The Institute of Our Lady of Mercy" with a Central Leadership Team based in Yeadon Leeds.

The LeadershipTeam saw the potential for further development in the Care of the sick and elderly on this Derby site. Awareness for of the great need for dementia care resulted in a second new building, purpose built for dementia care. “Beaumont House for Dementia Care,” was therefore opened in 2012. This too had internal and ramped access to Highfield’s Convent.

Then in early 2013 the “Close to Care Apartments" at Kinsale Court were opened. Each was named for their connection to the original Derby Community. Lady Mary Beaumont gave her house to the original Sisters who came from Kinsale Co. Cork in 1849.

Bishop Patrick had a lovely way with the residents. His own mother had suffered from dementia. Sister Bridie McLaughlin was very excited when we told her he was born in Buncranna, Co. Donegal.

He told her he had met her brother Mitchel McLaughlin, until recently the Speaker of the N. Ireland Assembly.

Bishop Patrick’s family moved to Birmingham when he was six years old but he still has relatives around Derry and Donegal.

We have lovely photos of him with Sister Rita Wynn, Sister Bridie and another resident, Kieran, who always tells us that he is the Bishop whenever he comes to Mass.

The bishop went to every resident and was pleased to meet Sister Catherine Keogh, whose brother and nephew are priests of the diocese.

Mag, who is 95, told the Bishop that she had never spoken to a Bishop before even though a Bishop did confirm her! She chuckled with delight. Sister Bridie gave him a big hug. Sister Maura Walker discussed the stresses of being in authority as only Maura could! She is always packing to go off to a meeting in the North! Sister Rita also responded very positively to the Bishop with a big smile!

The residents and Care staff sent a lovely big card which many signatures to thank him for his visit. It was a very enjoyable day for everyone. The Bishop was delighted to meet the Sisters and see the Care Centre. He was very aware of the work done by the Sisters in setting up Catholic Education in Derby and around and expressed great appreciation to the Institute for establishing the Mercy Care Centre.


Sister Philippa Kohlbecker