The Gathering Place is Growing: Ceremony to announce the transformation of Mercy Convent

On May 31, 2023 a simple, yet profound event took place in the bare-bone space of the former Mercy Convent in St. John’s, NL.  The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, a Roman Catholic order of women religious, was founded in Dublin in 1831 by Catherine McAuley.  Three sisters of Mercy travelled from Dublin in 1842 to found a convent in St. John’s.  For about 15 years the sisters lived in a wooden structure built as a convent by Bishop Fleming who invited sisters to come to Newfoundland. 

L-r: Paul Davis, Executive Director, The Gathering Place; Sr. Diane Smyth, Congregational Leader Sisters of Mercy; Patrick O’Callaghan and Paula Boucher, Donors; John Abbott, MHA and Joanne Thompson, MP

The Mercy Convent structure today was constructed in 1857 and served as a convent up to 2021.  Over the past months the building has been stripped to its foundational structure.  Olympic Construction has begun the renovation to the building to transform it into a shelter and supportive housing structure that will accommodate 90 persons in need of temporary and transitional housing. It is hope that the project will be completed by June 2024.   Day to day support services will be offered by The Gathering Place.

The Sisters of Mercy and the Presentation Sisters, as well as church parishes in the area, Roman Catholic, Anglican, United Church of Canada, and Presbyterian as well as other groups concerned about hunger, health, housing and social isolation of a large population in the central area of St. John’s joined forces in the early 1990s to envision a centre to serve the population in need of care and services.  The Gathering Place opened in 1994 with basic food provision and social centre located in a vacant school building that had been refreshed for this new purpose.  Since that time space and services and those seeking help increased exponentially and continue to do so.  Now permanent supportive housing in this renovation project has been added to the services of The Gathering Place.

Media Coverage of the event

Watch: NTV Broadcast: (3:03)
Read: CBC text:
VOCM coverage:

See below Mercy Convent Before and After Renovation as Shelter and transitional Housing (17:29)


El 31 de mayo de 2023 tuvo lugar un acontecimiento sencillo, pero profundo, en el espacio desnudo del antiguo Convento de la Misericordia de St. El Instituto de las Hermanas de la Misericordia, una orden católica romana de religiosas, fue fundado en Dublín en 1831 por Catalina McAuley. Tres hermanas de la Misericordia viajaron desde Dublín en 1842 para fundar un convento en San Juan. Durante unos 15 años, las hermanas vivieron en una estructura de madera construida como convento por el obispo Fleming, que invitó a las hermanas a venir a Terranova.

La Hermana Diane Smyth ofrece saludos y una oración de bendición en la ceremonia celebrada en parte del espacio desnudo del antiguo convento.

La estructura actual del Convento de la Misericordia se construyó en 1857 y sirvió como convento hasta 2021. En los últimos meses, el edificio ha sido despojado de su estructura fundacional. Olympic Construction ha comenzado la renovación del edificio para transformarlo en una estructura de refugio y vivienda de apoyo que acogerá a 90 personas necesitadas de alojamiento temporal y transitorio. Se espera que el proyecto esté terminado en junio de 2024. Los servicios de apoyo diario serán ofrecidos por The Gathering Place.

Las Hermanas de la Misericordia y las Hermanas de la Presentación, así como las parroquias de la zona, católica romana, anglicana, de la Iglesia Unida de Canadá y presbiteriana, además de otros grupos preocupados por el hambre, la salud, la vivienda y el aislamiento social de una amplia población de la zona central de St. John’s, unieron sus fuerzas a principios de los años noventa para idear un centro que atendiera a la población necesitada de cuidados y servicios. El Gathering Place abrió sus puertas en 1994 con un servicio de alimentación básica y un centro social ubicado en un edificio escolar vacío que había sido acondicionado para este nuevo fin. Desde entonces, el espacio y los servicios y las personas que buscan ayuda han aumentado exponencialmente y siguen haciéndolo. Ahora, a los servicios de The Gathering Place se han añadido viviendas permanentes de apoyo en este proyecto de renovación.

Cobertura mediática del eventoen inglés

Ver: NTV Broadcast: (3:03)
Leer: CBC text:
VOCM coverage:

St Patrick’s Mercy Home: 1958-2008

Through the inspiration and efforts of Archbishop Patrick Skinner, St. Patrick’s Mercy Home, a long-term care facility located in St. John’s, opened in 1958 under the administration of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. Its mission is to provide quality and compassionate care for its residents.

St. Patrick’s offers its residents a homelike décor, large rooms that are available to residents and family members for special gatherings; a patio garden is easily accessed while the auditorium provides space for concerts, parties and special large group gatherings. Many of the activities of the Home are supported by St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Auxiliary. The pastoral care department is welcoming to people of all faiths with many religious services being held in the large chapel. Medical, nursing, palliative, and respite care is available through its physician and nursing staff while social workers, physiotherapists, recreation and music therapists provide services that enhance the life of each resident in a particular way.

In January 1986 a renovation and extension project for the Home was completed so that it could continue to provide a safe, comfortable and attractive atmosphere that speaks of its focus on residents.

In September 1999, the Board of Directors of St. Patrick’s entered into an Agreement with the St. John’s Nursing Home Board in a process of regionalization along with other nursing homes in the area. In 2005, it became a member of the Eastern Health Authority.

The year 2008 marks the 50th anniversary year of St. Patrick’s. Many and varied activities and celebrations involving staff, residents, church and government officials and the general public took place throughout the year. The chapel was rededicated to Archbishop P. J. Skinner in recognition of his untiring efforts toward the opening of a home for the aged and infirm; St. Patrick’s Mercy Home Foundation displayed a beautiful Donor Appreciation Window, acknowledging all who contribute to the care and well-being of the residents in any way.

Sister Mary Fabian Hennebury

Sister Mary Fabian Hennebury (1916 -2009) was the Public Face of St. Clare’s Mercy hospital for nearly three decades.

It is fitting that having celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Clare’s that we profile a woman who was the public face of St. Clare’s for twenty-six years.

Mary Hennebury, known to us as Sister Mary Fabian, was born in Bonavista in 1916, the eldest of eight children. Her mother died when she was nine and Mary learned to accept responsibility at an early age. During the two years she spent at St. Bride’s College after leaving Bonavista, she was inspired by the sisters’ lives and their dedication to helping others, and it was here that she began to think about religious life as an option for herself. In 1935 at the age of nineteen, Mary entered the Sisters of Mercy.

A year after her profession, in 1939, she began nursing studies at the newly opened St. Clare’s School of Nursing. She went on to do post­graduate work at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and upon her return to St. John’s was appointed supervisor of pediatrics at St. Clare’s. Her excellent academic qualifications and her Toronto experience had prepared her well for this ministry, which remained dear to her heart all through her life.

Meanwhile, Sister Mary Fabian was asked by the Congregation to enroll in a two-year correspondence course in hospital organization and management, given by the Canadian Hospital Association. She enrolled in a similar program with the American Hospital Association and received certification in both programs. Well-equipped academically and professionally, she was more than ready to assume the role of administrator of St. Clare’s in 1955. This marked the beginning of a period of unprecedented growth for the hospital, not only in the size of the physical plant, in the services offered, in its outreach programs, but also in the qualifications, expertise and reputation of the people who staffed the hospital.

Sisters and lay staff were given opportunities to pursue studies at home and in other parts of Canada in order to get the required competencies for the hospital’s expanded services. Sister Fabian herself was a lifelong learner, always keeping abreast of new approaches and developments in the delivery of health care.

Sister Mary Fabian oversaw two extensions to the hospital and initiated many new programs and services. Among these were hospital accreditation, pastoral care, social work, respiratory services, physiotherapy, and a rheumatology unit. As one department was established, new needs presented themselves and Sister Mary Fabian was quick to recognize and respond to these changing needs.

Almost immediately after assuming her position, Sister Mary Fabian began working on setting up a Board of Directors and a Medical Advisory Committee, both of which she saw as absolutely necessary for the growth of St. Clare’s into a first-class hospital. From the beginning the new Board worked tirelessly with  Mary Sister Fabian to continue the tradition of Mercy and to ensure quality care for the patients. The incorporation of the hospital in 1960 not only gave St. Clare’s legal status, but the means to ensure that its mission and values were sustained. Sister Mary Fabian also made and maintained connections with many organizations and groups in the city with a view to enhancing the reach of the hospital into the broader community. One such negotiation resulted in St. Clare’s being recognized as a teaching hospital with a formal affiliation with the Medical School of Memorial University.

Sister Mary Fabian’s role as administrator of an inner- city hospital made her keenly aware of the helplessness of many people suffering from addiction to alcohol. In the mid-1970s the Department of Health approached St. Clare’s with a proposition that could respond to this pressing need, which was being recognized as a priority in the city. Government was prepared to finance a detoxification center, if St. Clare’s would find a site for it and administer it. Sister Mary Fabian, her Board and the Congregation, wholeheartedly accepted the challenge. The Sisters purchased a property on Deanery Avenue in St. John’s and turned it over to St. Clare’s. Talbot House, under the guiding hand of Sister Mary Fabian, provided treatment, self-help programs and a safe haven for people fighting the disease of alcoholism.

Another huge venture initiated by Sister Mary Fabian was the establishment of a Palliative Care Unit at St. Clare’s. The groundwork for the project involved several years of intense negotiation and planning, a process in which Sister Mary Fabian played a major role. On October 1, 1979, largely as a result of her vision and with the financial assistance of the Sisters of Mercy, St. Clare’s opened the first Palliative Care Unit east of Montreal. In the ensuing years, this unit gave comfort, hope and dignity to hundreds of patients and their families in their darkest hours. The first Sister of Mercy to die in Palliative care was Sister Mary Mark Hennebury, Sister Mary Fabian’s sister.

Although Sister Mary Fabian received national and international recognition for her progressive stance and her contributions to health care at home and abroad, she always insisted that she did not do it alone.  Invariably, she credited her Board of Directors, her congregation and the staff with whom she worked as her invaluable support system, enabling her to carry out her part of the overall mission of St. Clare’s. Undoubtedly however, she played a major role in ensuring the position of St. Clare’s as a general hospital with the highest accreditation, while at the same time ensuring that it held firmly to the mission and values of our founding charism. In her ministry of 38 years at St. Clare’s, Sister Mary Fabian embodied the spirit of Mercy and by her visionary, wise and energetic leadership, established at St. Clare’s a standard of excellence in the delivery of compassionate care that was a model for her successors.

On her retirement from the health care system, Sister Mary Fabian ministered at McAuley Convent, sitting with the elderly sisters, watching and praying with the dying, answering the door, welcoming visitors and doing the many small routine tasks that needed to be done. Throughout her whole life, she lived the motto of St. Clare’s “Mercy Above All”.  She entered into eternal life on March 31, 2009.


        (Article written by Sister Charlotte Fitzpatrick, RSM)

Sister Mary Bernard Gladney

Sister Mary Bernard Gladney (1902- 1974) was the First Administrator of St. Clare’s and Rural Nurse extraordinaire.

Alice Maud Gladney, known to us as Sister Mary Bernard, was born in Portugal Cove in December of 1883. Her reception into the Sisters of Mercy in April 1902 was the first of many reception and profession ceremonies to take place in the new Littledale chapel, constructed in that same year as part of the Talbot Wing on the Littledale property..

On September 29, 1913 Sister Mary Bernard was assigned to be part of the first community of St. Clare’s Home, a hostel for working girls, located in the White House on LeMarchant Road, St. John’s, which came to be known as St. Clare’s Mercy Convent. The Home operated for nine years and although the need for such a ministry was still there, the need for a Catholic hospital became even more urgent. Sister Mary Bernard’s dream was to become a nurse, and she was overjoyed when Archbishop Roche arranged for her to study nursing in Ireland in preparation for opening a hospital run by the Sisters of Mercy. The outbreak of World War One made it too dangerous for her to travel overseas, and eventually she began a three- year nursing program at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.

In October 1921, Sister Mary Bernard returned to St. Johns as a registered nurse, having completed extra studies in radiography, anesthesia, and laboratory, leaving her well-equipped to handle any emergency. She was assigned again to St. Clare’s Home, remaining there until it closed in May of 1922 to make way for the new hospital. In a mere three weeks the Home was adapted to a 20-bed hospital and Sister Mary Bernard became its first administrator. The first staff of the new St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital consisted of one more RN, Alice Casey, and two nursing assistants, Sisters Catherine Greene and Gabriel Fleming. With such a small nursing staff, Sister Mary Bernard was delighted to have the on-call services of twelve of the most competent doctors in the city. However, without such supports as regular hours or days off, Sister Mary Bernard often worked well into the night, until overtired and overworked, she succumbed to tuberculosis little more than a year after this critical ministry began. What a cross this must have been for her, for Archbishop Roche who had such dreams for St. Clare’s, for the Sisters of Mercy and for the fledgling hospital itself. The congregation arranged for Sister Mary Bernard to go to a sanitarium in New York for rest and treatment, and St. Clare’s closed its doors for several months. Two Sisters from Mercy Hospital in Baltimore came on loan to St. Clare’s to get the hospital back on its feet.

Interestingly, when Sister Mary Bernard returned to St. John’s she was appointed, not to St. Clare’s, where Sister Mary Aloysius Rawlins had already been named superior and hospital administrator, but as staff nurse to Belvedere and then to St. Bride’s Boarding School. Her next assignment was St. Lawrence and it was here that she found the greatest scope for her nursing skills and for her strong desire to help people in need. St. Lawrence had been without a doctor for six years and government’s repeated attempts to procure a medical resident had proved fruitless. Mother Philippa’s visitation to the convent in St. Lawrence in the summer of 1934 enabled her to get a first-hand look at the needs of the area. After assessing the dire situation, she and her Council named Sister Mary Bernard superior of the convent in St. Lawrence, a decision that proved to be providential both for the town and for Sister Mary Bernard, who became the area’s medical officer. Sister Mary Bernard’s medical knowledge and her well­ honed nursing skills were just what the town needed, and she responded with eagerness but perhaps not without a tinge of trepidation to this huge challenge. With her companion, Sister Mary Borgia Kenny, she cared for the sick in St. Lawrence and surrounding areas for the next six years. My mother was employed at the convent for part of that time, so I heard firsthand of the exploits of these two brave and dedicated sisters.

Upon arrival in St. Lawrence Sister Mary Bernard had converted a small room at the convent for use as a clinic, where people could come for medical advice and treatment. She set broken bones, pulled teeth, delivered babies, stitched open wounds, cared for miners in times of accidents, listened kindly and patiently to people’s problems and did whatever needed to be done for her people. With wonderful insight for the town’s future well-being, she trained a group of local women in midwifery. Sister Mary Bernard would often bring a sick patient to stay at the convent if the home circumstances could not provide the necessary care and attention. She and Sister Borgia devoted several hours each day to home visitation – on foot, by open boat, or in winter by horse and sleigh. Reminiscing about her days in St. Lawrence, Sister Borgia recalled instances of clambering down into a tossing dory in the middle of the night on their way to deliver a baby or attend to a medical emergency, with Sister Bernard holding tightly to the skirt of her white habit. These two valiant women of Mercy answered all calls in all weathers and the people knew that their every request would be attended to with grace, kindness, and competence.

But Sister Mary Bernard was not only superior of the convent and chief medical officer for the area. She immersed herself in the life of the community, staging many concerts and even operettas. In the mid -1930s the people of St. Lawrence were still suffering from the effects of the tidal wave of 1929 and were in the throes of the Great Depression. Life was very difficult for families, and government aid amounted to a mere six cents a day per person. Sister Mary Bernard was all too aware of the misery surrounding her, but she knew the power of music and drama to uplift the spirits of the people and give them a respite from the struggles of daily life. In her recollections of life in St. Lawrence in the 1930s and 40s, Mrs. Ena Farrell-Edwards, a local historian, spoke of Sister Mary Bernard as a shining light in dark and difficult times, calling her the Mother Teresa of St. Lawrence.

After her return from St. Lawrence in 1940, Sister Mary Bernard went to Belvedere where she spent the next 34 years of her life. There, her surgery became a refuge for many children who just needed to hear her say God bless you, my pet. Many would fake an ailment as an excuse to visit this gentle, compassionate sister who knew how to soothe every ache or pain. Those of us who knew her remember a kindly countenance, a welcoming smile and a warm, listening heart. Being in Sister Mary Bernard’s presence gave one the feeling of being special, worthy of all her attention. Day in and day out, she lived her gift of compassionate presence, that quality of Mercy that is at the heart of what it means to be a Sister of Mercy.

Sister Mary Bernard died in 1974 and remains a shining light in the story of Mercy in Newfoundland.

 (Article by Sister Charlotte Fitzpatrick, RSM)

St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital: Historical Highlights

A timeline of key events in the development of St Clare’s Mercy Hospital.

St Clare’s 1916

1913 “White House” purchased from the Honorable E. M. Jackman to be operated by the Sisters of Mercy as a home for working girls.

1921 The “White House” was renovated to serve as a hospital. Archbishop E.P. Roche laid plans for the improvement whish included sending a Sister of Mercy to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburg to train as a nurse.

1922 May 21 St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital was officially opened to care for 23 patients Sister Mary Bernard Gladney, graduate nurse, was appointed Superintendent.  The following year Sister Mary Aloysius Rawlins took on the position of superintendant.

1939 New modern 100 bed building opened west of the “White House” on LeMarchant Road.
St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital School of Nursing was opened with accommodations for the students in a duplex house next to the hospital.

1941 First Graduation of St. Clare’s Nursing School- five graduates.

1950 Opening of a large chapel and additional facilities for pediatric, obstetric and dietary services
–   Our Lady of Lourdes window installed on chapel corridor in memory of Sister Mary Aloysius Rawlins who had been administrator of St. Clare’s for over twenty years.

1956 Board of Governors and Medical Advisory Committee established through the work of Sister Mary Fabian Hennebury, Administrator of St Clare’s.

1958 Our Lady of Lourdes Hall opened to accommodate 100 nursing students.

1959 St. Clare’s granted its first full accreditation by Canadian Council on Hospital Accreditation.

1960  St. Clare’s was incorporated.

1962 Opening of New wing on St. Clare Avenue to provide accommodation for 100 additional patients.

1967 St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Auxiliary set up.  Mrs. Joan Parker Crosbie was first President.

1963 Planning begun for another extension of hospital. 1968 Recognition as teaching hospital affiliated with Memorial University.

1972 Golden Anniversary of the opening of St. Clare’s. New wing officially opened. Hospital population now increased to 300 patients.

1975 Department of Pastoral Care established. Sister M. Carmelita Power appointed as Director.

1978 Talbot House, a Residential Detoxification Center was opened on Deanery Avenue.

1979 First Palliative Care Unit east of Montreal opened. The unit was transferred to the Leonard A. Miller Centre in 2002.

1984 St. Clare’s was selected as one of ten test sites for a national computerized information management project.

St Clare’s Today

1985 Establishment of St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Foundation
–   Computers were introduced- Meditech system for patient information.

1994 St. Clare’s sold to provincial government and incorporated into Health Care Corporation of St. John’s, 1995
–    Opening of LeMarchant House, a mental health day program/centre.

1995 St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital Advisory Council was established to foster Mission, Values and Ethics.

2004 Sisters of Mercy donated a ceramic mural “For Mercy Has a Human Heart” placed in the front entrance. Artist – Gerald Squires.

2005 Eastern Health, Regional Authority established for administration of all health care services in Avalon, Burin and Bonavista Peninsulas, including St. Clare’s.

2022 St. Clare’s celebrated the centenary anniversary of its opening.

Care for Incarcerated Women

Sister Margie Taylor is proud to collaborate with the Stella Burry Community Services Association over the past couple of years. She feels that the vision and charism of Stella Burry, the namesake of this association, have so much in common with the vision and charism of Catherine McAuley. They were two pioneer women who were passionate in their goal to assist the poor and did not stop even when they faced considerable obstacles. Both were women who sought to “walk with the people.”

From 2001 Margie worked for six years with women in the correctional centre in Clarenville, Newfoundland. In her presence and ministry there she presided at ecumenical prayer services, facilitated the Twelve Step Program and other personal development and social programs meant to enhance the quality of the life of these women. Through her ministry at the correctional centre she was first introduced to the Stella Burry Association and learned of their support system, especially in the area of education and housing.  Margie was impressed with the mission of this group: Stella Burry Community Services provides support and opportunities for renewal and self-discovery through programs that affirm every individual’s strength and abilities, restoring their sense of self-worth and capacity for change.”

Stella Burry

Stella Burry
Portraits Collection, “Miss Stella Burry, Emmanuel House, St. John’s, Nfld.” 76.001P781, United Church of Canada Archives.

Stella Burry was born on August 11, 1897, in Greenspond, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland and is remembered in the history of the United Church of Newfoundland as “one who has made an outstanding contribution to church and community.”  Stella Burry began teaching at the age of 17, but the overwhelming poverty she encountered in rural Newfoundland led her to reconsider her career and in 1922, she moved to Toronto to pursue studies in social work.  After graduating in 1924, she stayed in Toronto for the next decade.  She returned to Newfoundland in 1938 and began a life of work that characterized her as a “pioneer social worker” in her native province.

She believed people needed a “hand up” and not a “hand out” so she secured the funds necessary to create Emmanuel House as a safe haven and community centre for young women coming to St. John’s.    She lobbied for changes in policy that would help women find suitable employment.
The vision of Stella Burry is “to provide supportive affordable housing in an inclusive community that provides opportunities for real work and citizen participation.”   Stella Burry initiated many programs and her achievements during her lifetime were numerous.  She died in 1991 at the age of 93 but her legacy of outstanding advocacy and concern for people lives on in the organization that bears her name today, The Stella Burry Community Services.
The Stella Burry Community Services, established in 1995, is an incorporated body of the United Church of Canada.  It is governed by a volunteer community-based Board of Directors and an Executive Director.  SBCS oversees the programs and services offered through Emmanuel House, Naomi Centre, Carew Lodge, New Beginnings, a Community Support Project, a long-Term Housing Project and an Employment /Education Program.  SBCS is recognized as a leader in this province for the development of supportive housing for people with complex mental health needs and for employment programs that offer real work experience.

Ministry with Women

The Stella Burry Association is very supportive of women and men who have been incarcerated.  Sister Margie is presently volunteering in a support group which meets every Tuesday evening at the Hungry Heart Cafe (another enterprise of Stella Burry Community Services).  The goal of this group is to assist women in re-entering society after their time in prison.  The group is presently working on a DVD that will depict how women become involved in the prison system, a description of the supports or lack of supports and programs offered by the system, and the assistance which is available once they are no longer incarcerated.  Sister Margie says, “The ministry with these women and the staff of Stella Burry is a real blessing in my life.  Many times there is much hurt and pain when one of the women goes back on drugs/alcohol, returns to an abusive relationship or tries to commit suicide. But that is when the supports and encouragement are most needed. The Stella Burry Community Services is there to help women help themselves and to re-gain their life.”
For more information about Stella Burry check website: Stella’s Circle

La Hermana Margie Taylor está orgullosa de haber colaborado con la Asociación de Servicios Comunitarios Stella Burry durante los dos últimos años. Siente que la visión y el carisma de Stella Burry, la homónima de esta asociación, tienen mucho en común con la visión y el carisma de Catherine McAuley. Fueron dos mujeres pioneras que se apasionaron en su objetivo de ayudar a los pobres y no se detuvieron ni siquiera cuando se enfrentaron a obstáculos considerables. Ambas eran mujeres que buscaban “caminar con la gente”.

Desde 2001 Margie trabajó durante seis años con mujeres en el centro correccional de Clarenville, Terranova. En su presencia y ministerio allí presidió servicios ecuménicos de oración, facilitó el Programa de Doce Pasos y otros programas sociales y de desarrollo personal destinados a mejorar la calidad de vida de estas mujeres. A través de su ministerio en el centro correccional, conoció la Asociación Stella Burry y su sistema de apoyo, especialmente en el ámbito de la educación y la vivienda. Margie quedó impresionada con la misión de este grupo: Stella Burry Community Services proporciona apoyo y oportunidades de renovación y autodescubrimiento a través de programas que afirman la fuerza y las capacidades de cada individuo, restaurando su sentido de autoestima y su capacidad de cambio”.

Stella Burry

Portraits Collection, “Stella Burry” 1976.001P/780, United Church of Canada Archives.

Stella Burry nació el 11 de agosto de 1897 en Greenspond, Bonavista Bay, Terranova, y es recordada en la historia de la Iglesia Unida de Terranova como “una persona que ha hecho una contribución excepcional a la iglesia y a la comunidad”. Stella Burry empezó a enseñar a los 17 años, pero la abrumadora pobreza que encontró en la Terranova rural la llevó a reconsiderar su carrera y, en 1922, se trasladó a Toronto para cursar estudios de trabajo social. Tras licenciarse en 1924, permaneció en Toronto durante la década siguiente. Regresó a Terranova en 1938 y comenzó una vida de trabajo que la caracterizó como “trabajadora social pionera” en su provincia natal.

Creía que la gente necesitaba que le “echaran una mano” y no que se la “dieran”, así que consiguió los fondos necesarios para crear Emmanuel House como refugio y centro comunitario para las jóvenes que llegaban a St. Abogó por cambios en la política que ayudaran a las mujeres a encontrar un empleo adecuado.

La visión de Stella Burry es “proporcionar viviendas de apoyo asequibles en una comunidad integradora que ofrezca oportunidades de trabajo real y participación ciudadana”. Stella Burry puso en marcha muchos programas y sus logros en vida fueron numerosos. Murió en 1991 a la edad de 93 años, pero su legado de extraordinaria defensa y preocupación por las personas sigue vivo en la organización que hoy lleva su nombre, The Stella Burry Community Services.

Los Servicios Comunitarios Stella Burry, creados en 1995, son un organismo incorporado a la Iglesia Unida de Canadá. Se rige por un Consejo de Administración voluntario de base comunitaria y un Director Ejecutivo. SBCS supervisa los programas y servicios ofrecidos a través de Emmanuel House, Naomi Centre, Carew Lodge, New Beginnings, un proyecto de apoyo comunitario, un proyecto de vivienda a largo plazo y un programa de empleo/educación. SBCS es reconocido como líder en esta provincia por el desarrollo de viviendas de apoyo para personas con necesidades complejas de salud mental y por los programas de empleo que ofrecen experiencia laboral real.

Ministerio con mujeres
La Asociación Stella Burry es muy solidaria con las mujeres y los hombres que han sido encarcelados. La hermana Margie es actualmente voluntaria en un grupo de apoyo que se reúne todos los martes por la tarde en el Hungry Heart Cafe (otra empresa de los Servicios Comunitarios de Stella Burry). El objetivo de este grupo es ayudar a las mujeres a reinsertarse en la sociedad tras su paso por la cárcel. El grupo está trabajando actualmente en un DVD que mostrará cómo las mujeres se ven envueltas en el sistema penitenciario, una descripción de los apoyos o falta de apoyos y programas ofrecidos por el sistema, y la asistencia que está disponible una vez que ya no están encarceladas. La hermana Margie dice: “El ministerio con estas mujeres y el personal de Stella Burry es una verdadera bendición en mi vida. Muchas veces hay mucho dolor y sufrimiento cuando una de las mujeres vuelve a las drogas/alcohol, vuelve a una relación abusiva o intenta suicidarse. Pero es entonces cuando el apoyo y el ánimo son más necesarios. Los Servicios Comunitarios Stella Burry están ahí para ayudar a las mujeres a ayudarse a sí mismas y a recuperar su vida”.

Más información sobre Stella Burry en la web: Círculo de Stella

Prison Ministry

From our earliest days  in Newfoundland a number of Sisters of Mercy visited inmates of the various prisons in the town of St John’s and at the Salmonier prison farm.

Sisters are involved in the prison system as advocates, teachers, and pastoral care-givers. They provide spiritual and social activities to enhance the quality of the lives of the inmates by leading worship and prayer, by teaching sessions on self esteem, self-awareness and personal growth. They advocate for the basic needs of life, food, shelter, clothing for those who are leaving the prison and those who are trying to make a new life for themselves.

At the present time sisters go regularly to the men’s prison in Stephenville. Occasionally sisters visit the minimum security prison in St. John’s. Sometimes sisters accompany persons to the courts and serve as support, advocate and as witness.

Desde nuestros primeros días en Terranova, varias Hermanas de la Misericordia visitaron a los reclusos de las diversas prisiones de la ciudad de St John’s y de la granja de la prisión de Salmonier.

Las Hermanas participan en el sistema penitenciario como defensoras, maestras y cuidadoras pastorales. Proporcionan actividades espirituales y sociales para mejorar la calidad de vida de los reclusos dirigiendo el culto y la oración, impartiendo sesiones sobre autoestima, autoconciencia y crecimiento personal. Abogan por las necesidades básicas de la vida, la alimentación, el cobijo y la ropa de los que salen de la cárcel y de los que intentan forjarse una nueva vida.

Actualmente, las hermanas van regularmente a la prisión masculina de Stephenville. Ocasionalmente, las hermanas visitan la prisión de mínima seguridad de St. A veces las hermanas acompañan a las personas a los tribunales y les sirven de apoyo, de defensoras y de testigos.


150 Years of Mercy in Conception Harbour, Newfoundland

The Sisters of Mercy have provided ministry in Conception Harbour for over 150 years. 

On Tuesday May 21 about thirty of us attended a grand celebration in the parish of Eucharist followed by a hot roast beef dinner.  Sister Roisin Gannon represented the Presentation Sisters.  Bishop Anthony Daniels surrounded by seven priests of the Grand Falls Diocese celebrated Eucharist in St. Anne’s Church with participation of the sisters and parishioners in readings, music and other moments in the liturgy.  The church was sparkling and beautifully decorated with roses.  A large banner hung in the church acknowledging the 150 years’ anniversary – Our Journey Together!  At the end of Mass, a plaque was presented to the Congregation which will be placed in the church to commemorate the anniversary.  In his homily Bishop Daniels connected the call and ministry of the sisters to that of the early disciples of Jesus and gratefully commended their life and ministry among the people of Conception Harbour and surrounding area.

Almost 180 friends and parishioners were seated at the banquet tables in St. Anne’s Hall and were served a delicious meal catered by Tiny’s Restaurant.   Mrs. Agnes (O’Driscoll) Richard recounted her memories of going to school to the sisters and told wonderful and humorous stories of her experiences in the various grade levels.  Sister Elizabeth Davis responded with a little of the history of the foundation and proud commendation of the support and collaboration of the people during all those years and up to the present.  She included a remembrance of the five sisters who are buried in the convent garden and in the receptive soil of Conception Harbour.  The Mayor presented Sister Geraldine with a plaque to commemorate the anniversary.  A huge cake baked and decorated by the niece of Sister M. Damien Morrissey was served to the crowd at the end of the dinner. (The small statue of Mary on the cake was salvaged from St. Anne’s School when it closed!  The baker told me she couldn’t find a ’nun’ statue!)

Congratulations to the Sisters who currently live and minister in Conception Harbour, Sisters Geraldine Mason, Ruth Beresford and Ellen Marie Sullivan!

Congratulations to the Sisters of Mercy especially those who ministered there, and to the generous, faithful and loving people and church of Conception Harbour!  Congratulations and thanks to all who prepared the details of the celebration! Congratulations on this 150th anniversary celebration!

Messages to: Sisters of Mercy Newfoundland

Las Hermanas de la Misericordia llevan más de 150 años ejerciendo su ministerio en Conception Harbour.

El martes 21 de mayo una treintena de nosotras asistimos a una gran celebración en la parroquia de la Eucaristía seguida de una cena caliente de carne asada. La Hermana Roisin Gannon representó a las Hermanas de la Presentación. El obispo Anthony Daniels rodeado de siete sacerdotes de la diócesis de Grand Falls celebró la Eucaristía en la iglesia de Santa Ana con la participación de las hermanas y los feligreses en las lecturas, la música y otros momentos de la liturgia. La iglesia estaba resplandeciente y bellamente decorada con rosas. En la iglesia colgaba una gran pancarta en reconocimiento del 150 aniversario: ¡Nuestro viaje juntos! Al final de la misa, se entregó a la Congregación una placa que se colocará en la iglesia para conmemorar el aniversario. En su homilía, el obispo Daniels relacionó la llamada y el ministerio de las hermanas con el de los primeros discípulos de Jesús y elogió con gratitud su vida y su ministerio entre la gente de Conception Harbour y alrededores.

Casi 180 amigos y feligreses se sentaron a las mesas del banquete en la Sala de Santa Ana y se les sirvió una deliciosa comida servida por el Restaurante Tiny’s. La Sra. Agnes (O’Driscoll) Richard relató a las hermanas sus recuerdos de cuando iba a la escuela y contó historias maravillosas y llenas de humor de sus experiencias en los distintos grados. La hermana Elizabeth Davis respondió con un poco de la historia de la fundación y elogió con orgullo el apoyo y la colaboración de la gente durante todos esos años y hasta el presente. Incluyó un recuerdo de las cinco hermanas que están enterradas en el jardín del convento y en el suelo receptivo de Conception Harbour. El alcalde entregó a la hermana Geraldine una placa conmemorativa del aniversario. Al final de la cena se sirvió a los asistentes una enorme tarta horneada y decorada por la sobrina de la hermana M. Damien Morrissey. (¡La pequeña estatua de María de la tarta fue rescatada del colegio Santa Ana cuando cerró! La pastelera me dijo que no pudo encontrar una estatua de “monja”).

Felicidades a las Hermanas que actualmente viven y ejercen su ministerio en Conception Harbour, las Hermanas Geraldine Mason, Ruth Beresford y Ellen Marie Sullivan.

Felicidades a las Hermanas de la Misericordia, especialmente a las que ejercen su ministerio allí, y a la generosa, fiel y cariñosa gente e iglesia de Conception Harbour. ¡Felicidades y gracias a todos los que prepararon los detalles de la celebración! ¡Felicidades por esta celebración del 150 aniversario!

Mensajes para: Hermanas de la Misericordia de Terranova

Developments at The Gathering Place and Mercy Convent

The Gathering Place was opened in 1994  in our former Mercy School as a place where disadvantaged people from the city can find a somewhere to socialize, have health needs tended to, do laundry, get a hot meal and find welcome and and a non-judgemental atmosphere.

Gathering Place

With the advent of Covid the need for some of our homeless population to have a bed for the night was recognized.  The Auditorium of the former school was fitted with 30 cots to provide shelter and warmth during the cold nights of winter.

Mercy Convent, the home of the first Sisters of Mercy on this side of the Atlantic, was home to 6 Sisters of Mercy in the year 2020, when the realization came to the Congregation that more space and services were needed for the homeless in our city.

The decision was made to turn over the Convent to The Gathering Place and plans were set in motion with the Provincial and Federal Government to renovate the Convent for its future use.

The community of sisters living there at the time were pleased to seek other accommodations as they knew that our founder Catherine McAuley would be happy with the intended future use of the Convent.

Mercy Convent

As of March 2023 the Convent has been stripped down to its retaining walls and pillars, showing the magnificent carpentry and stone work of the 1850s.

Plans for constructing spaces for 60 overnight guests plus some temporary one bedroom apartments are advancing and, when finished, guests can receive three meals a day and avail of other important services available in the adjoining building of The Gathering Place.

The historic and beautiful chapel will remain intact and will provide a “sacred space” for programs and for contemplative space for the guests of The Gathering Place.

To be able to serve God’s poor through this former school and Convent is a gift for our city and our Congregation and to know that the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are being lived out in this space is a blessing. 

El Gathering Place se inauguró en 1994 en la antigua Mercy School como un lugar donde las personas desfavorecidas de la ciudad pueden encontrar un lugar donde socializar, atender sus necesidades sanitarias, hacer la colada, tomar una comida caliente y encontrar un ambiente acogedor y libre de prejuicios.

Mercy Convent Chapel. Capilla de la Misericordia

Con la llegada de Covid se reconoció la necesidad de que algunos de nuestros sin techo tuvieran una cama para pasar la noche. En el auditorio de la antigua escuela se instalaron 30 catres para dar cobijo y calor durante las frías noches de invierno.

El Convento de la Misericordia, hogar de las primeras Hermanas de la Misericordia a este lado del Atlántico, albergaba a 6 Hermanas de la Misericordia en el año 2020, cuando la Congregación se dio cuenta de que se necesitaba más espacio y servicios para las personas sin hogar de nuestra ciudad.

Se tomó la decisión de ceder el Convento a The Gathering Place y se pusieron en marcha planes con el Gobierno Provincial y Federal para renovar el Convento para su futuro uso. La comunidad de hermanas que vivía allí en ese momento se alegró de buscar otro alojamiento, ya que sabían que nuestra fundadora Catherine McAuley estaría contenta con el futuro uso previsto del Convento.

En marzo de 2023 el Convento ha sido desmantelado hasta sus muros de contención y pilares, mostrando la magnífica carpintería y el trabajo en piedra de la década de 1850.

Gathering Place and Mercy Convent.
Lugar de encuentro y Convento de la Misericordia

Avanzan los planes para construir espacios para 60 huéspedes que pernocten, además de algunos apartamentos temporales de un dormitorio y, cuando esté terminado, los huéspedes podrán recibir tres comidas al día y disponer de otros importantes servicios disponibles en el edificio contiguo de The Gathering Place.

La histórica y hermosa capilla permanecerá intacta y proporcionará un “espacio sagrado” para programas y para espacio contemplativo para los huéspedes de The Gathering Place.

Poder servir a los pobres de Dios a través de esta antigua escuela y Convento es un regalo para nuestra ciudad y nuestra Congregación y saber que las Obras de Misericordia Corporales y Espirituales se viven en este espacio es una bendición.