Highbury Convent’s roots can be traced back to the very early days of our Congregation’s story. The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy was founded by Catherine McAuley in 1831 and very soon she was asked to open new houses first in Ireland then in England. Highbury Convent’s roots can be traced back to the very early days of our Congregation’s story. Significant in our story is Catherine‘s second foundation made in Tullamore in 1836
News of Religious Sisters walking the streets and visiting the sick and poor in their own homes was spreading rapidly. Father William Kelly visited the convent in Tullamore and begged for some Sister s to come to work with him in his very poor and rapidly growing parish in East London. Thus it was that a new foundation was made in Commercial Road, London. The story repeated itself when 1883 Father L. Burke parish priest of St Catherine’s Church in Sheffield wrote to the Superior in Commercial Road pleading for Sisters to work in his parish and schools. Thus the Sisters of Mercy came to Sheffield and in their turn opened a number of Branch houses. In 1921 Claremont Nursing Home was started on Sandygate Road and was later to become the highly esteemed ‘Claremont Hospital.’ With good foresight they purchased the house next door ‘East Highbury’ which adjoined their property.
Highbury Convent, on Sandygate Road, Sheffield was thus created from two large semi detached houses. ‘East Highbury’ was owned by the Sisters and when ‘West Highbury’ went on the market the sisters were given the first refusal on the house, by the owners Doctor and Mrs Randall. The Institute purchased the house and sensitive alterations were put in hand to create our lovely convent home. For those of us living and working In Claremont Hospital it was wonderful to have our own space and time. We moved into the newly created convent in 1987. Bishop Moverley celebrated Mass and blessed the Convent.
Sisters withdrew from running Claremont Hospital in 1996 and some moved to pastures green. The new community The came together in 1997 under the leadership of Sr. Catherine Helen Mullahy
A Sister of Mercy’s work is never finished in this world. Though officially retired from professional work we continue to serve in many areas of need. Thus Sr. Ursula put her nursing experience to use through joining the Chaplaincy Team in the Hallamshire Hospital from 1997 until 2001. Since then she does chaplaincy work in St. Luke’s Hospice.
Sister Brendan was Director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre until2002 and then took charge of St. Vincent’s Charity Shop for three days a week.
Sister Catherine’s great passion was the Mercy Associate Movement and before long she had established a group of Associates, the first of whom were enrolled in 1995.
Sister Elizabeth joined the Community in 2005 and became very involved in pastoral ministry through working with CCCC and St. Wilfrid’s Centre for the homeless.
Sister Catherine PBVM took up residence with us in 2005 and so we became a collaborative Community. When Sister Helen’s term of office ended we opted not to ask for a named Leader but to work at shared Leadership. We feel this has been a good decision.
We know that the quality of our lives as religious sisters is totally dependent on a deep, loving relationship with God and with one another. We have reflective prayer daily. We use our Mercy Prayer Book as it is so in tune with our Chapter Focus and Catherine McAuleys letters are so inspiring.
We are very privileged to have frequent celebration of the Eucharist. Following on from the Eucharist we share our ‘table’ with lonely and vulnerable people - in the words of Martin hangers hymn ‘All are Welcome.’ Since hospitality is at the heart of our mercy charism our house has an open door, while respecting each other’s privacy. All who come to our home be they gardeners, workmen, or any visitor, we bear in mind Mother Catherine’s words ‘give them a comfortable cup of tea.
We welcome groups to use our home for example the Ascent Group, various parish groups, prayer groups and people who want a quiet day.
We do not know what the future holds but we do know who holds the future.