History - How they began

A group of children from St Joseph’s Primary School were invited to reflect on the meaning of Mercy. The project motivated these youths to reach out to others, including them in the process, and in this way, they committed themselves to forming the first YMA Group.

The first YMA

Sister Patricia BellThe first YMA group was founded during the Jubilee year in North Shields, a small fishing village in the North East of England by Sister Patricia Bell, a member of the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy and the children of St Joseph’s R.C School.


This original group had only eight members, along with their group leaders, Tommy and Monica Mills.

Picture: Tommy and Monica Mills and the first YMA group.
The original group with Sr. Patricia and Tommy Mills

The group would meet regularly, coming together in prayer and a process of idea sharing, regarding their work as Youth Mercy Associates. Leisure activities and outings were also important aspects of the group’s pastimes. 

Youth Mercy Associates are part of the wider Mercy Associate movement. The YMA are concentrated in London, Liverpool, Perborough, Colwyn Bay and Newcastle upon Tyne.

More information about the YMA can be found on the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy website.

YMA - The New Millenium

When YMA set out in the year 2000 – it was a dream – a vision of the future. In reality it was an unforgettable journey to visit the country of Catherine McAuley, Ireland with a group of enthusiastic young people.

To catch a snapshot of the international House in Baggot Street, Dublin, and to walk in the steps of Catherine, was to bring her spirit and vision to life for the YMA.

The YMA listened with interest, and prayed with the great fervour at the tomb of Catherine. It was though Catherine was speaking to each one and saying, “All our tomorrows depend on you.”

The gem of the tour was to visit Coolock House where Catherine had spent many of her ‘preparation’ years for the religious life unknown to her. The hospitality of the Sisters was something to experience – A DOOR WIDE OPEN. They showed a great interest in the young people, like Catherine herself, and a comfortable cup of tea was shared by all at the end of the visit. This was certainly bridging the gap between the young and the old.

Thank you Catherine for your inspiration and continued enlightenment to follow Christ in today’s world, no matter what our age or vocation.

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