Mercy Convent Conception Harbour Becomes New Home for Perchance Theatre

November 10, 2022

This afternoon, November 10, 2022,  after months of planning and negotiation the sale of the convent at Conception Harbour has been completed!  The convent space is now the property of an Artistic group, Perchance Theatre, who were formerly based in Cupids. 

Immaculate Conception Convent, 1931-Today

The group will set up their theatre on the property (purchased from the Grand Falls diocese).  The convent will be used by the group to support their operations and personnel. The group is ecstatic and so grateful.  We are grateful that the convent will now be a focus of arts and culture and  hopefully bring new life for the communinty of Conception Harbour and surrounding area.

We pray for the group and that this venture will be successful and nurturing to the heart and spirit of many.

History of the Convent

In 1869 the first convent was built (a replica of the convent in Brigus).  Three young women, Sisters Mary Michael Gertrude Moore, Mary Theresa Slattery, and Mary De Sales Meehan came from Mercy Convent in St. John’s to found the first community of Sisters of Mercy, Conception Harbour.  These three young women were born in Ireland and came to Newfoundland in their late teens or early twenties to join the Congregation. In subsequent years other Irish girls and local born girls joined the Conception Harbour convent.

Immaculate Conception Convent, 1871-1930

The first convent building was replaced by a new one in 1931. Since 1869, 106 Sisters of Mercy have lived in the convent, taught in theschools in Conception Harbour, and later in Brigus, Avondale and Holyrood. Throughout the years the Sisters visited people in their homes and were engaged in various parish and community activities. As was the custom in early years (prior to the amalgamation of the Mercy Convents in 1916) a cemetery was located near the convent where five Sisters of Mercy have been buried. The headstones bear the names: Sisters M. deSales Meehan (1885), M. Gertrude Moore (1891), M. Agnes Banks (1893), M. Philomena Leamy (1893) and M. Cecilia Joy (1910), all Irish-born, except Sr. Cecilia.

L-R: Srs Geraldine, Ellen Marie, Ruth

On February 2, 2022 Sisters Geraldine Mason and Ellen Marie Sullivan closed the doors of the convent marking the end of the ministry of the Sisters of Mercy in the Conception Harbour area and the end of a dedicated ministry to the people and community.  On September 18 the three last sisters to reside in the convent, Sisters Geraldine, Ellen Marie and Ruth Beresford were invited by the pastor, Fr. Thomas Offong, to a Eucharistic liturgy followed by a reception to mark this ending.  Other sisters and many people of the local areas joined in the celebration of gratitude and appreciation.  The Mayor of Conception Harbour presented the sisters with a framed print of the local area called The Pool.

There is sadness and loss for the Sisters, for the people of Conception Harbour and the surrounding communities, for the Parish of St. Anne and the Renewal Centre in the closing of the convent after more than 150 years of life and ministry, church and community involvement.  There is deep loss at the heart of the community of a presence that has been part of the lives of many men, women and children over many generations.  The spirit of the Sisters of Mercy lives on in the lives of those whom the sisters have touched through education, music, drama, and spirituality and at the most sacred moments of their lives.  Now new and exciting reality, based in the convent space and surrounding property, will arise in Perchance Theatre to bring new life to the community in art, music, drama and social consciousness.

About Perchance Theatre

The three-storey convent has today been purchased by an artistic group, Perchance Theatre.  Under the direction of Danielle Irvine, the

Perchance Theatre, Cupids, Conception Bay

Perchance Theatre produces and presents classical theatre with a focus on well known William Shakespeare.  For years Perchance has offered elaborate, artistic and dynamic performances in their outdoor stage in Cupid’s built in the style of Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.  Perchance has also performed their plays or elements of their plays around the province and conducted workshops in drama and culture in various locations in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Watch some of their past performances

Perchance has chosen a new site for their home base on the Sisters of Mercy Convent property in Conception Harbour. People will now easily attend their new theatre centre by land and by sea – able to dock their boats at the nearby, Conception Harbour marina!

Moving Into the Future

The Sisters of Mercy formally leave Immaculate Conception Convent, Conception Harbour, with gratitude and pride in the rootedness of faith and culture of the people.  We rejoice in the new life of the arts, music, drama, pathos and humor that will be brought to the stage and the community involvement of Perchance Theatre.  We rejoice that this new location will be “home” to some of the most talented men, women and youth of our province and beyond.  We are grateful that Perchance Theatre will enable the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy in education, in arts, social and cultural values to live on.

We pray that this new future will be a blessing for all, and especially for the community of Conception Harbour and surrounding communities.  We wish Perchance Theatre and its members every blessing for growth and success in their gift to our society and culture.