A church hopes a new chapel within its walls will give those most in need a place to find help.
St Mary’s RC Church in Bridge Street, Sunderland, is just a short distance away from Wearmouth Bridge, with its leaders hopeful those who are considering jumping from the landmark will instead find solace during their time of need.
It’s a place for quiet time and we are close to the bridge.Fr Marc Lyden-Smith
They will also be able to speak to someone at the church if they need a listening ear or support.
The Mercy Chapel has been set up inside the church and funded by the Sisters of Mercy, who are based at Oaklea Convent in Tunstall Road, and was unveiled following a mass attended by His Excellency Arch Bishop Antonio Mennini, the papal nuncio, who is the Pope’s representative in Great Britain, and Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle Seamus Cunningham.
Father Marc Lyden-Smith, who leads St Mary’s, said: “The Pope said last year he wanted a special year of mercy, so here we have delivered in a space at the side of the church, a place where we have built a confessional and a place of perpetual adoration.
“It’s a place for quiet time and we are close to the bridge.
“We always make sure the church is open during the day for people to come in and if anyone is thinking about putting themselves at risk, they can come and visit and take the time they need.”
Arch Bishop Antonio was presented with a Sunderland AFC during his visit by club legend Jimmy Montgomery Fr Marc, who was put in the international spotlight when he presented Pope Francis with a copy of the kit during a visit to Rome in 2013.
His visit to the city was his first since he took up the post around five years ago.
The chapel features a glass etching of a Celtic knot, in recognition of the sisters’ Irish origins, is inscribed with the name of the northern saints and depicts a tree.
A monstrance, which is used in blessings, has also been formed from wood, rather than jewels and other precious items.