The Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., will build their first United States convent in the Diocese of Knoxville near the diocesan home they have been sharing for five years.
The order of women religious based in Alma broke ground Oct. 9 on the $1.2 million convent, which will be built in Knoxville at 6832 Northshore Dr. Its motherhouse is located in Alma.
Bishop Richard F. Stika led the groundbreaking ceremony with prayers and a special blessing as he sprinkled the construction site with holy water. He was joined by Cardinal Justin Rigali and Deacon Sean Smith, chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville.
Also attending the groundbreaking were Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero; Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett; Mother Mary McGreevy, RSM, superior general of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma; Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, RSM, superior general emerita of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma; Monsignor Xavier Mankel, a vicar general of the Diocese of Knoxville; and Father David Boettner, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral and a diocesan vicar general.
Also on hand were Religious Sisters of Mercy who are based in Knoxville and reside in the last Catholic convent built in Knoxville some 30 years ago in North Knoxville near the former St. Mary’s Hospital. Sister Mary Martha Naber, Sister Mary Albertine Paulus, Sister Marie Moore, and Sister Margaret Turk represented the local Religious Sisters of Mercy that are part of the same RSM order.
Following a request by Bishop Stika in 2009, the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma added the Diocese of Knoxville to the many locations in which they serve, including Maryland, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The Sisters also serve in Germany, Italy, England, and Australia. While the order has convents in these locations, the Knoxville convent is the first in the order has built from the ground up.
“This is special for us in many ways. This is the first convent we’ve built, so this is a unique beginning,” said Mother McGreevy.
She thanked Bishop Stika for his benevolence, which has provided the Diocese of Knoxville RSMs to thrive, and for providing the Sisters with “spiritual nourishment.”
There now are six Alma Religious Sisters of Mercy based in Knoxville serving in many professional capacities, including administration, education, charity, and health care.
The Sisters are expected to move into their new home in August 2015. The new convent will be built on a five-acre lot in a residential section of Northshore Drive. The home, which will have 10 bedrooms, living space, a kitchen, and a chapel for worship, will allow the Sisters to live and worship together after spending five years in Knoxville living at various locations and in some cases separated from each other.
Merit Construction will build the 8,870-square-foot structure designed by Hutchins Associates, the project architect.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy are bearing the responsibility of the cost of the project through a loan and fundraising efforts.