Newcastle-Upon-Tyne - St Anne's

The Sisters came to Newcastle-upon-Tyne from Liverpool on 31st May 1855, at the invitation of Dr. Hogarth, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.  What was significant about the occasion was that it was the first religious house to be opened in Newcastle since the Reformation.  Three years later, in 1858, the Sisters went to Gateshead, weekly, to instruct the children in their faith.

 

A Convent was opened in Westgate Hill.  It was not a large house and the Bishop had requested that the Sisters undertake the work of educating the poor children in the St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish.  This they began on June 11th 1855, with 80 children in two rooms in the Convent – no school as such available. Another room was used for 5 private pupils whose fees paid for food, pencils and slates for the poor children.  The Sisters saw St. Mary’s School expand in numbers and into new buildings.  Sisters taught in the school until Sr. Ursula retired in 1985.

 

In August 1859, Fr. Bewick asked if the Sisters could go to North Shields where a house was opened on 6th January 1860.  Then in 1870 the Sisters bought “The Priory” (now St. Anne’s) in Summerhill Grove.  Later Nos. 1 and 2 Summerhill Grove were on the market and the Sisters purchased them as a House of Mercy.

 

In 1950 No 1 and 2 Summerhill Grove were leased to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for use by the deaf in the Diocese.  The lease is still running today – 2005.

 

In 1987 the Sisters moved from the large Convent next door, to 7/8 Summerhill Grove, property already owned by the Sisters.  The former Convent was converted into sheltered housing and the property leased to the Knights of Malta.  The flats were opened in September 1993. The house is now shared, with Sisters living on two floors and disabled people using two floors for visits and respite care.

 

The private school also expanded and flourished for many years eventually closing in 1983 due to lack of numbers and the provision of free Secondary Education elsewhere. The building was then used as a Day Centre for the elderly where they received a hot meal and enjoyed social activities.

 

At the same time the Sisters were in demand in Newcastle for other works of Mercy, especially the visiting and caring for the sick and elderly; the disabled and  the instruction of people about the faith.

 

Today the Sisters are still involved in works of Mercy.  Sr. Colette is very involved with the disabled and the elderly providing a social day out once a week for those who otherwise would be housebound.  Sr. Ursula helps her with this.  Sr. Baptist is Parish Sister at the Sacred Heart Church, North Gosforth.  Sisters Josepha and Aiden are also involved in parish visiting.  We all hope that the spirit of Catherine McAuley will continue to inspire us and by our example influence others to follow a Mercy way of life – just as we were so influenced by the St. Anne’s Sisters who have gone before us.