‘On Thursday 16th June the team at St Mary’s welcomed for a reunion a group of past pupils and teachers from St Mary’s Convent and St Mary’s/St Francis Elementary school. This has become an annual event and is a wonderful chance for people to reconnect. We enjoyed a convent tour, lunch and a memory sharing session led by Jenny Smith (Archivist) using stimulus from photographs in the convent archives.
The day was brought to a very meaningful conclusion by Sisters Noreen Cullen and Kathleen Gooch with a prayer session in the chapel.’
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‘I found it uplifting and came away feeling more peaceful than when I entered.’
St Mary’s Convent opened for Birmingham Heritage Week and Heritage Open Days on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th September, welcoming sixty-five people. This marked a return to our heritage tours after the year of Covid (last year we provided a virtual heritage tour). It felt very exciting and energising to be able to once again lead groups around this special place, and for the convent to return to a more open house feel once again.
Mindful of course, of the remaining presence of Covid, we departed from our usual ‘open door’ policy and this time required pre-booking for groups up to 12. This helped us to manage numbers and make sure that distancing was possible. Jenny (Archivist) undertook one guided tour in the morning and one in the afternoon on both days. Sister Noreen oversaw a screening of the virtual tour and led a walk-about for other groups at the same time.
Visitors came largely from the Birmingham area, but there were a handful from further afield. People came from all walks of life and with many different interests. Among the visitors were former Sister Rose and her husband; a past pupil of Alton School who has very fond memories of Sisters Lelia Noonan and Anne Dolores Singleton; and a former teaching colleague of Sister Maura Halpin from Archbishop Masterson School in Northfield. All the visitors seemed very happy with their time at St Mary’s, and for the ‘good cup of tea’ offered to them.
My thanks to the Sisters for their help and support with this event. Many comment that the presence of the community is what makes St Mary’s feel very special.