Newcastle-Under-Lyme - Coolock

“Coolock”, Newcastle Staffordshire

Coolock has an interesting history.  Utilising a piece of land locked ground adjacent to St Bernard's Convent, the new, purpose built, house opened on the 14th June 2003 under a different name: “Karibuni” which is a Kiswahili word meaning “You are all welcome” it was born of a dream by Sisters working in “Muhhoroni” a very poor rural area of Kenya. They dreamt of a Mission House in England where Sisters returning from over-seas missions could rest, recuperate and slowly reacclimatise to undertaking new ministries in the UK. The ministry of the house would also include setting up and supporting Mercy Associate Groups and offer provision for Day and Residential Retreats and outreach to the local area.

For a variety of reasons the ministry of the House did not take off immediately and after a period of inactivity, Sister Betty Larkin and Sister Bridie Stephens were appointed to the house in 2005 and what has followed since is a sure sign that the hand of God was in that original dream, though a little modified for his own purposes.

The spirit of that original name still permeates everything that happens in the house; all the hopes and dreams are now realities. Only the name has changed. It was felt that a name linked with the history of our Congregation would be more meaningful and contribute to the ministry taking place within it and from it. ‘Coolock House’ and estate were left to Catherine McAuley in the will of William Callaghan. This inheritance enabled her to build the house in Baggot Street and begin her Ministry of Mercy.

Sisters Betty and Bridie, through introducing themselves to the parish and enlisting help from parishioners for various activities in setting up, were able share their dreams for the house as a powerful hub for deepening understanding and appreciation of the Love and Mercy of God. This was a first step to forming a Mercy Associate Group. People attracted to become Mercy Associates are invariably already involved in many works of mercy in their local area either as members of groups, societies and church activities. They do not become Associates of our Congregation: ‘The Sisters of Mercy,’ in order to do more work but rather to share our mercy spirituality and deepen and enrich their own merciful ministries.

The work in and from the house increased rapidly and now in 2014 it is a source of an amazing variety of spirit filled activity. The house and grounds are alive with ‘mercy’ and the calm welcoming, prayerful, spirit of mercy pervades everywhere. There is close cooperation and support for the local parish "Holy Trinity" and the Parish Priest Fr. McNulty but outreach extends to other parishes, schools, societies and groups across the diocese as well as to ecumenical gatherings.

The galleries below gives some idea of the spirit  and ethos of  the house and the  variety of ministries undertaken:




We try to make Mercy the business of our lives here in “Coolock” today by continuing the works of mercy begun by Catherine McAuley in Coolock in 19th century.