Soul Searching? Search Here!

I sensed a calm, peaceful feeling upon entering the grounds of the Mercy Spirituality Centre at Toronto. The vast views of Lake Macquarie from this retreat venue are complemented by the beautiful, spacious gardens. It is a truly great setting for reflecting – a place for renewal of mind, body and spirit.

This Centre was previously a convent of the Sisters of Mercy, Singleton, and had been used as a spirituality centre for decades under the leadership of Sr Heather McClymont. Sr Heather lived a very long life and following her death there was a period of quiet at the Centre. The Centre is now administered by the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea which was formed at the end of 2011, comprising 15 former congregations of the Sisters of Mercy.

In January 2015 Sr Anne Ryan commenced as Co-ordinator of the Mercy Spirituality Centre. Anne’s challenge is to develop her understanding of what people are looking for and where they want to begin. The Centre offers facilitated silent retreats, directed retreats, weekend retreats, non-residential retreats and days of reflection. Personal spiritual direction is available by appointment. If Anne feels she can’t meet an applicant’s needs, she is happy to direct them to other centres.

There is an open invitation for anyone who has a sincere desire to nourish their soul to visit the Centre. Some people come because they are searching and perhaps they are not finding what they are seeking in the places they used to go, such as churches or spiritual associations. The Centre can be a healing place for people who feel betrayed by their institutional church. Others come to be nourished as they are travelling with great energy on their spiritual journey. Some people come to relate with God in private time. For those seeking companionship, there is the opportunity to meet others.

It can be a profoundly silent place for those who feel the need to be centred. Retreatants have commented that they get excited by a personal awareness of how to nourish themselves to be who they are called to be, “to be the best of me that I can be”. Anne explained this further. “Sometimes we look in the mirror and know it’s a bad hair day and we go and do something about it and it is the same thing for our inner spirit.”

Built in 1911, the two-storey building consists of seven newly-renovated ensuite bedrooms, a meeting room, dining room, two lounge areas and enclosed verandahs. Sr Pauline Murray, who has retired from nursing and palliative care ministry, provides the delicious, nourishing meals from the modern kitchen. Also on-site are three small self-catering units for private retreat time. A recent private retreatant described his time as “the most profound silence I have ever entered into. I have a new understanding of alone time with God.”

Anne would be delighted to welcome you to come and find your space in this delightful setting.  

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