Burnley - Park Hill

Park Hill is now the main focus of mercy ministry in Burnley. Its roots stretch back to the early years of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy - to Tullamore, in  Ireland, Catherine McAuley’s first foundation made in 1836.

The Convent was opened in 1957 as a branch house of the Mother House in Yorkshire Street. This was the first foundation from Sisters of Mercy in Commercial Road, London. Commercial Road Convent itself was founded directly from Tullamore. This is a really good example of the rapid spread of the Sisters of Mercy in those early years: Baggott Street 1831 – Tullamore 1836 - Commercial Road, London, 1859, - Yorkshire Street, Burnley, 1872, Park Hill 1957. 

 From the beginning the sisters in Burnley dedicated themselves to education in the poor schools and visiting the poor, sick and vulnerable in their own homes and in hospitals. It was hard unremitting work with few resources to hand. A private school was opened in the convent for children of the more prosperous people of the area such as mill owners, deputies and a growing middle class. This provided much needed funds for work among the poor
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In the mid 1950s a large site was purchased to house a convent and a new purpose built private school, the former school having out grown its premises in Yorkshire Street. Park Hill Convent was opened on the 5th of November 1957                                                                              
In 1972 the Burnley sisters celebrated the centenary of their foundation in Burnley. To mark this special occasion a new ministry was initiated. ‘McAuley Mount;’ a retirement home for priests and their housekeepers with a small community to care for them, was built on the Park Hill site. This would later become a registered Care Home under the NHS, serving the frail and elderly of the area while retaining its initial vision of care for retired priests and their housekeepers.

In 2004/5 Park Hill was renovated with a view to a possible future as an extension of the Care Home. In the meantime five Sisters, Margaret Mary Galligan, Mary Elizabeth Critchley, Margaret Ryan, Mary Keegan and Joan Breen. continued their pastoral ministry, in local parishes, hospitals and Care Homes and school, carrying on the great mercy tradition of visitation of the poor sick and lonely and in more recent times serving as Eucharistic Ministers to the housebound.

In the wake of Vatican II much was changing in Religious Life. In 1983 the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy was formed from a union of 16 Mercy Congregations in the UK and each convent became an independent member house. A period of great change followed this re-founding and many sisters moved to new ministries across the country. The Convent in Yorkshire Street was closed in 1988 and the Sisters now minister at and from Park Hill.
Many sisters from across the Institute have spent time in Park Hill in a variety of ministries to the people of Burnley and beyond. In 2004/5 Park Hill was renovated with a view to a possible future as an extension of the Care Home.

Now in 2016, a Community of six Sisters in Park Hill continue pastoral ministry in local parishes, hospitals and Care Homes. They carry on the great mercy tradition of visitation of the poor, sick and lonely and in more recent times serving as Eucharistic Ministers to the housebound.

Six Sisters of Mercy are currently being cared for in ‘McAuley Mount.’ There remains a close bond with McAuley Mount. The Community attends Mass there most days and has Sunday lunch with the residents. They are an important mercy presence in the home.