The Sisters of Mercy came to Haverhill in the Diocese of East Anglia in 1995 in response to a request from the parish priest for Sisters to help him in the parish and in prison ministry.
Whilst both Sisters Carmel and Philippa are involved in various aspects of parish ministry, Sister Carmel is on a prison chaplaincy team and Sister Philippa works for Rainbows, an organisation, which helps children and young people who have suffered family loss through parental death or separation. Both these ministries are very much in keeping with Catherine McCauley’s mission of mercy to the marginalized and especially to women and children.
There has been much development in Haverhill over the last ten years with 5,000 new houses built and more on the way! This has meant new people of many ethnic groups moving into the area and into our parish. Sister Carmel is involved in the RCIA Programme for people interested in exploring the Catholic Faith. Each year there are up to eight people received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. The Sisters are also involved in a Parish Project to build a new church, as our current, temporary building is now inadequate for our needs. Other areas of ministry include taking Holy Communion to the sick and elderly, membership of the ecumenical Justice and Peace Group, being a school governor and ministry in music and liturgy as Sister Philippa is also the parish organist.
Sister Carmel daily meets men who are broken, drug addicts, alcoholics, victims of circumstances over which they had little or no control, with low self-esteem. They often come from families who were unable to give them the love and support they needed. So too the young people who come to Rainbows. They are grieving a profound loss and they too suffer with feelings of anger, sadness, rejection and low self-esteem. By providing a listening ear and loving support we try to bring God’s love and mercy to all we meet.
Prayer must be at the heart of all we do. As well as our own private prayer we come together to say Morning and Evening Prayer whenever possible. We first need to receive God’s love and mercy ourselves in order to bring that love and mercy to others.