The Mercy Associates were founded in Oldham in 1982. At this time the church was beginning to feel the decline in its number of clergy within the parishes. Many parish institutions, such as Children of Mary and Legion of Mary were beginning to die out. The laity were missing someone with time and space available for their use as heretofore.
This is where the Convent of Mercy in Oldham came in, over 100 years old, it had the space and the personnel to meet this need as their own Community members were declining and many spacious rooms were available in the Victorian building of Werneth Grange. The local laity could now use the Convent for such things as Days of Recollection, Holy Hours, Masses, etc. In return the Associates took an interest in our Mercy charism and wanted to share where possible in our local Mercy work. They were interested to learn that our Holy Foundress had begun her work with the poor in Dublin by using local Associates.
Locally they gave time and energy to preparing such things as sandwiches for the poor who came in large numbers to our door. They collected clothes that could be given to poor men and a few gave some of their time helping in a local centre for the immigrants in the town. But apart from this their main value was to be the leaven in the dough as a centre of reference to what was available to the ordinary parish member. Many such do not have the time and money available even for a meeting once a month as an associate but would love to attend a Day’s Retreat, or a Holy Hour locally and cheaply or even assist financially in Mercy works initiated by the Community.
In 1984 when the Institute was set up the idea of Mercy Associates was first spread to the Mercia Province and later throughout the whole Institute.