OUTREACH AT ST. MARY'S CONVENT
One of the major projects to evolve from the renovation and reopening of St Mary’s in 2005 was a new form of pastoral outreach into the local community. This would be very different from the type of outreach carried out by the Sisters in the past, as recent years had witnessed a dramatic change in the social diversity of the area. Incoming communities had brought with them their own traditions, faiths and cultures – a situation with many strengths but which also could give rise to racial tensions. Very little work had been undertaken on social cohesion in the Handsworth, Lozells and Birchfield areas of the city, and it was in this context that the Sisters of Mercy launched their threefold ministry of Heritage, Spirituality and Outreach. Here we give a flavour of the our work and projects in which the Community of St Mary’s has been involved since the early 2000's as expressions of ‘Mercy in the 21st Century’.
On reopening, our aims included:
- providing a place for uplifting of hearts and mind
- extending a hand of friendship to all who visit St. Mary's.
CITIZENS UK Birmingham
Citizens UK organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. Composed of diverse civil society alliances, CUK develops the leadership capacity of its members so they can hold politicians and other decision-makers to account on key issues. St Mary’s is a corporate member, and, in 2014, Sr Mary Horgan assumed responsibility for the outreach work at St Mary’s and became actively involved in CUK work. She was succeeded by Srs Ita Keane and Marie McGrogan in 2015.
In addition, Sr Mary also worked with vulnerable women, volunteering at ‘Anawim’ Women’s Centre in Birmingham, whose clients suffer from the effects of social deprivation, domestic violence and difficulties with housing, with many experiencing physical and mental health problems. Sr Marie McGrogan has since taken her place in this ministry.
Sr. Mary Horgan was involved in the development of the Conscious Cafe project , which aims to bring together women of different cultures through shared experience of skills learning and creativity. Now led by Sr. Marie McGrogan, weekly meetings are held at the nearby St. Francis' Centre and facilitated by the Sisters from St. Mary's.
OTHER OUTREACH INVOLVEMENT
The Day Centre is central to the Outreach Ministry
The breadth and range of its activities shows the commitment of St Mary’s in the sphere of social justice, as summed up in the following quote from Saidul Haque Saeed, Senior Organiser of Citizens UK Birmingham.