St. Mary’s Convent, a Pugin building, opened in August 1841 - a few months after St. Chad’s Cathedral opened a mile down the road.
Early benefactors of St Mary's included John Hardman of Hardman & Co and John Talbot the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury. They both wanted to address poverty in Birmingham.
The Convent is home to the Sisters of Mercy, founded by Venerable Catherine McAuley in Dublin in 1831, and is the second English foundation of the order. John Hardman’s daughter, Juliana, became the first superior of St Mary's. Throughout its history, as well as being a house of prayer and a base for parish work, St Mary's has also been a centre for the education ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. St Mary's Convent School operated in the convent grounds until the late 1960s. It was decided that as St Mary’s was the last house founded by Catherine McAuley it should continue as a Spirituality and Associates Centre, offer a Heritage Trail and extend a ministry to local women and children. There are currently six sisters in the Community, carrying out various ministries.