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Conception Harbour celebrates 150th anniversary with Mercy Sisters

On hand for the cutting of the celebration cake marking 150 years were, from left, Sister Elizabeth Davis, Sister Ruth Beresford, Sister Ellen Marie Sullivan, Father Thomas Offong and Sister Geraldine Mason.
On hand for the cutting of the celebration cake marking 150 years were, from left, Sister Elizabeth Davis, Sister Ruth Beresford, Sister Ellen Marie Sullivan, Father Thomas Offong and Sister Geraldine Mason. - Contributed

First arrived in community by boat on May 29, 1869

CONCEPTION HARBOUR, N.L. —
The steps of the old convent in Conception Harbour prior to 1910. Front row, from left, Sister Joseph Teresa Barron, Sister Berchmans Meehan and Gertrude Kennedy. Second row, Sister Brigid Hoey, Monseigneur Veitch and Sister Cecilia Joy.
The steps of the old convent in Conception Harbour prior to 1910. Front row, from left, Sister Joseph Teresa Barron, Sister Berchmans Meehan and Gertrude Kennedy. Second row, Sister Brigid Hoey, Monseigneur Veitch and Sister Cecilia Joy.

The first Mercy Sisters arrived in Conception Harbour by boat on May 29, 1869.

To mark the 150th anniversary of that historic event, a celebration was held recently in Conception Harbour.

A celebration mass was held May 21 at St. Anne’s Church, presided over by Bishop Anthony Daniels. he was surrounded by seven priests of the Grand Falls Diocese and about 30 Sisters of Mercy, along with parishioners of Conception Harbour and surrounding communities.

A huge banner was hung in the church acknowledging the journey of the Sisters of Mercy for the 150th anniversary, and was handmade by Mary Taylor. During the mass, Helen Keating made a presentation of a brass plaque to Sister Geraldine Mason on behalf of the parishioners. It will be placed in the church to commemorate the occasion.

Following the celebration of mass, a dinner and presentation were held at the Marian Hall. About 180 friends and parishioners attended and a hot roast beef dinner was prepared and served by Tiny’s Restaurant from Kelligrews. Master of ceremonies was Robert Keating. Ironically, he served the same role for the 100th anniversary celebration in 1969.

A banner hangs in St. Anne's Church in Conception Harbour to honour the historic anniversary.
A banner hangs in St. Anne's Church in Conception Harbour to honour the historic anniversary.

Agnes (O’Driscoll) Richard was guest speaker and recounted her wonderful and colourful memories of the Mercy Sisters through her experiences in school. Sister Elizabeth Davis, congregational leader, responded with a brief history of the foundation. She also expressed appreciation for the support and collaboration of the people of the Parish during all those years to the present. Betty Kennedy made a presentation to Sister Elizabeth with a gift from the parishioners to support their missions in Peru.

The 150th anniversary celebration for the Mercy Sisters' presence in Conception Harbour was held May 21 at St. Anne's Church.
The 150th anniversary celebration for the Mercy Sisters' presence in Conception Harbour was held May 21 at St. Anne's Church.

Mayor Craig Williams of the Town of Conception Harbour presented Sister Geraldine with a plaque to commemorate this milestone. In closing, a celebration cake baked and decorated by Carlie Wade, niece of Sister Damien Morrissey, was served.

Congratulations to the Sisters of Mercy, who have served in Conception Harbour over the past 150 years, and to Sister Geraldine Mason, Sister Ruth Beresford and Sister Ellen Marie Sullivan, who currently live and minister in Conception Harbour.

– Contributed by Lillian Connors

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