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, The Gathering Place, Sr. Diane Smyth, Sisters of Mercy, Patrick O’Callaghan, Paula Boucher, John Abbott, MHA and Joanne Thompson, MP
Sister Diane Smyth brings greetings and prayer of blessing at the ceremony in part of the stripped back building.


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)