Houses Opened and Closed in the 20th/21st Century M - Z

Maryport 1964 - 2010

Maryport Convent was founded from Wigton in 1964, in response to a request. The Sisters taught in the Primary School and visited the poor, sick and elderly. They also carried out many other works of Mercy.
Maryport is situated on the Cumbrian coast and is an area of high unemployment where traditionally the people were very poor – very much an area for Mercy Ministry.
In 2003 Sr Joseph joined the community of Sr Angela, Sr Alphonsus and Sr Martina. Also in 2003 the Maryport Sisters joined with Sisters in Wigton as the last few Sisters closed Wigton after 147 years of ministry there.
Sr Martina visited our mission in Peru in 2004 and the generous parishioners in Maryport raised money to help the Mission.
In September 2004 the community celebrated 40 years of ministering in Maryport. A special plaque was blessed for Sr Geraldine’s work in Maryport over the years. In December 2008 the Sisters had the great sadness of losing Sr Joseph who had gone home to Ireland for a holiday and then become seriously ill. Finally in 2010 the final Sisters bade a fond farewell to Maryport and thus ended 46 years of ministry in this area.

Newcastle upon Tyne, Longbenton 1987 – 1994

On 24th September 1987 a small community of sisters went to work in Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Two Sisters worked as Parish sisters in Longbenton itself and another worked in Ponteland while the fourth member became a Health Visitor in South Shields. They became a popular sight in the area as they seemed to visit all – from toddlers to teenagers, young families and the elderly. In 1989 the small community suffered the unexpected loss of Sr Philomena who died in a road traffic incident. Both Sr Maureen and Sr Susan celebrated their Silver Jubilees in Longbenton and then Sr Baptist celebrated her Golden Jubilee. However by 1994 plans were underway to lease the house to the Diocese as Sisters were moved to different communities. A lay community called Faith Alive moved into the house to work with young people in schools. 

Normanby, Eston House 1981 – 1993

In 1981 the Hull Community was asked to staff the Respite Care Centre for Handicapped Children in Eston in Cleveland. This was to offer some relief to parents of handicapped children and give the children a great holiday in a different environment. Sr Agnella who had already been teaching handicapped children was missioned to Eston House along with Sr Christopher in May 1981. In the early months Sr Ann Mary also gave valuable help in organising the house. In 1983 Sr Ursula replaced Sr Christopher and soon became one of the mainstays in Eston House. In the first year of their new ministry the sisters helped over 70 families and had coped with 398 admissions. Eston House became registered to accept 12 residents and six Day Care children at any one time. The community relied on support from many young volunteers some of whom went on to look for careers in Special Education. Many of the activities and treats were very simple things – like the opening of a cycle track around the back garden, when one of the residents “officially” opened it by cutting a ribbon!
During 1990/1 Social Services laid down many new measures to control the work of such ventures and it was felt that the cost of implementing all the changes would be too big a challenge to undertake, especially as there were no other sisters forthcoming to take on this ministry. Thus in 1993 Eston House was wound up and sadly was quickly vandalised and finally set on fire. The area where it once stood is now covered by a housing estate but there will be many who remember with thanksgiving a Mercy ministry given to the most vulnerable.

Peterborough 1997 - 2009

The house in Peterborough opened on the 1st October 1997 with Srs Mary and Chris who moved there from King’s Lynn. Over the years other sisters came and went including Sr Angela, Sr Marie, Sr Penny and Sr Cathy. The main focus of the house had always been to work in the wider arena of Peterborough rather than being parish-based, although the Sisters played an active role in the life of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, providing music, for example, at Mass and raising funds and morale with parish bingo and other activities. The Sisters were involved in Chaplaincy work both in prison and in the local Catholic secondary school, counselling, adult literacy and accompaniment. They facilitated days of reflection such as Carers Days and Icon Workshops. Their own Labyrinth in the garden attracted groups from different denominations.
At the closing of the house, the community celebrated with an open house day when all the people the sisters had worked with were invited. There was also a closing Mass celebrated with the local Dean, Fr John Warrington, past members of the community and Srs Patricia and Philippa from the Leadership Team. The house was finally sold in 2009.

Sheffield, Highbury 1986 – 2011

Highbury Convent was first opened in 1986 while several of the Sisters wwere still working in the nearby Claremont Hospital which the Sisters had begun themselves in 1921. With good foresight they had purchased the house next door ‘East Highbury’ which adjoined their property.
Highbury Convent, on Sandygate Road, Sheffield was thus created from two large semi-detached houses. ‘East Highbury’ was owned by the Sisters and when ‘West Highbury’ went on the market the sisters were given the first refusal on the house, by the owners Doctor and Mrs Randall. The Institute purchased the house and sensitive alterations were put in hand to create our lovely convent home. For those of us living and working In Claremont Hospital it was wonderful to have our own space and time. We moved into the newly created convent in 1987. Bishop Moverley celebrated Mass and blessed the Convent. The community worked in various ministries around the area including voluntary work at St Luke’s Hospice. In March 2005 the community welcomed Sr Catherine, a Presentation Sister who was to live with them in a collaborative venture. In 2006 some of the Mercy community joined with the Presentation Sisters to mark the departure of the Presentation Sisters from Deepcar, Sheffield after forty years. Finally in 2011 the decision was made to relinquish the house at Highbury but there was just time to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Sr Catherine, PBVM in October.

Sheffield, Swanbourne Road 1982 - 2010

The seed of Mercy brought from Commercial Road Convent in East London, had been sown in St Catherine’s Parish in 1883, and when Branch Houses were later established, St Catherine’s became the Mother House for all the Sisters who had entered the Sheffield Congregation of Sisters of Mercy. So, as membership was decreasing in the seventies, the decision to let go of a dearly loved Convent which had become too large for the Community was a painful one that was not taken lightly. Having finally taken that decision, the search commenced for small premises conveniently situated for the continuation of the apostolates in which the Sisters were involved, and which could be adapted for a Religious community.
In the event, two houses were selected as meeting the requirements, one in Swanbourne Road – St Patrick’s Parish – where Sisters were already teaching, and the other in Taptonville Crescent, in St Vincent de Paul’s Parish, and within walking distance of the Claremont Hospital. Some time was needed for extension and modification in both houses, that in St Patrick’s Parish being ready for occupation in 1981, and that in St Vincent’s in the following year.
On the 28th August 1981, Sr M Pauline O’Leary and two companions, both of whom were Assistant Teachers in St Patrick’s School, took up residence in what was already familiar territory. Early in 1983 they were joined by two more Sisters.
The first Mass in the Convent was celebrated by the Parish Priest, Fr M Daly on September 16th, the Sisters from St Catherine’s sharing in the celebration. It was an occasion which evoked memories of war-time Sheffield when the Sisters were, for a time, obliged to leave St Catherine’s find refuge in Mylnhurst and make the long walk daily to each in St Patrick’s Parish. They were truly Walking Nuns, as the exercise continued throughout the day, because some classes were conducted in the homes of generous parents, as the school premises were shared with Red Cap School.
Memories provide continuity, but the new Community lived very much in the present and soon had their apostolic programme formulated. This was the one which took into account the need for flexibility in a time of rapid changes in the social structure which threatened the basic security of family life.
The Sisters continued to minister throughout Sheffield, one Sister working for many years in St Wilfrid’s Drop In Centre in the city. Eventually as some Sisters needed more care the decision was made to close Swanbourne Road and the small community moved off to other communities in 2010.

Sheffield, Taptonville Cresecent 1982 – 1987

In 1982 the painful step was made to relinquish the Mother House of all the Sheffield houses – St Catherine’s in Burngreave Road. In choosing to move from here two properties were bought – Swanbourne Road and Taptonville Crescent which was named St Joseph’s. Twelve Sisters moved into St Joseph’s along with Dinkie, the Community cat! The Sisters quickly became involved in St Vincent’s Parish, visiting the local hospitals and one Sister working as Sacristan at Our Lady’s Church, School Road as well as others visiting the housebound and elderly. Several Sisters were still involved in education – in Notre Dame Comprehensive School, St Thomas More’s Primary School and St Patrick’s Primary School. Adults were instructed and programmes of preparation for the Sacraments were given. However in 1987 after a long process of consideration the Sisters were on the move once more in 1988 and efforts were concentrated on the remaining houses of Claremont, Mylnhurst and Swanbourne Road.

Wareham, Dorset 1993 – 2008

On 1st December 1993 a new mission was started in Wareham, Dorset involving both the Institute and the Union Sisters of Mercy. It was the first joint venture in Institute/Union collaboration and involved Sr Rita Flood from Eltham, London and Sr Helena Piggott who had been based in Swanage about ten miles away.
At first the Sisters spent a great deal of time visiting the parishioners and then they ran a Parenting Programme and crèche. They were involved in the prayer life of the parish from the start with the Parish Priest and some parishioners joining them for Morning Prayer in their little Oratory Chapel and Sr Rita ran a Prayer Group which proved popular. Patients were visited in Wareham Hospital and Sr Rita became a regular member of the CWL in the neighbouring village of Wool. Sr Helena helped with the sacramental preparation of children in Wool and Swanage too.
Not only did the Sisters work with the various parishes but they were also involved with the Army Camp at Bovington and were called on to take Eucharistic services there.
In July 2002 Helena heard the news that she would be moving to Clevedon, Somerset in September.
Rita continued to give faithful service in the area until the decision was taken sadly to close Wareham in 2008.