At the beginning of the 1970’s Sr. M. Immaculata and Council decided to look for a smaller replacement of the huge Mercy Convent on Chubb Hill, Whitby. A hotel “Beach Villa” was advertised and in 1974, following necessary alterations, the Community transferred to the re-named St. Joseph’s Convent. At that time there were a number of active Sisters who did visitation, were employed in the local hospital and taught in the Primary School as well as being involved in Catechesis and other areas of parish life. Others cared for the sick and elderly or were fully occupied in the kitchen, laundry and in doing shopping necessary for the smooth running of the house.
In 2005, the picture is very different. Mercy now is focussed within as the number of disabled and very elderly Sisters increased. Our age range is from mid 70’s to 98; only three are below 80. Four need total care and most others are dependant on carers for all personal care. We have a group of dedicated carers on a 3 shift system; 8.00 am – 2.30 pm, 2.30 pm – 9.00 pm, 9.00 pm – 8.00 am. A recent Diamond Jubilee celebration was a great joy - preceded by six deaths in the past three years.
The more able Sisters support, listen to, entertain and try to provide stimulation for the group able to use the Community Room or the patio for a period each morning and afternoon. As far as possible Morning and Evening Prayer, Exposition, Saturday Litany etc. are celebrated together in our chapel. Our resident chaplain celebrates Mass at 10.00 am daily and takes The Holy Eucharist to those Sisters confined to their rooms.
The local parish is supported in various events – garden parties, sales, inter-faith gatherings and the wider Community by support of the Hospice, Christmas parcels and generous donations to many charities. Some visitation is also done, especially to local hospitals and those sick at home. The Sisters are always delighted to welcome Sisters from other houses and relatives to hear news of what is happening elsewhere. Unfortunately, shortage of space prevents us from offering hospitality for meetings or parish involvement.
The Mercy Community in St. Joseph’s strives to be a prayerful, gentle witness to the importance that our Foundress so wisely, on her deathbed, repeated often; that her Sisters must preserve union and charity among themselves.