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Director of Children's Ministry
Some 100 years ago or more, Kloof served as a place of refuge for Durban families needing respite from the humidity of Durban’s summers! Having no parish of their own, Catholic families in the area would attend Mass either in Pinetown or at the bustling Mariannhill Monestary - a hub of missionary activety. Sometime in the late 1920's, a Catholic school for Zulu children, St Leo’s, was built in Kloof. By 1935, a priest by the name of Father Theodore Wiest was stationed at Malvern Fr Wiest would conduct pastoral visits to Catholic's in Pinetown, Clermont, Kloof and Hillcrest. He also visited the rural communities in the outlying areas, making his visits on horseback. Under Father Wiest, a piece of land was purchased in Krantzview Road and St Leo's school was moved there where it was able to expand. The school continued to until 1970. One teacher was employed.
Fund raising for the building of the first church began after the Hourquebie family donated an acre of land. In 1942 there was sufficient money to build a small church but war time building restrictions allowed for only houses to be built, with no more than three bedrooms. So a house was built at 79 Old Main Road (the current location) with some of the inner walls left out in order to provide a room large enough to serve as a meeting place for Mass. The church was blessed and opened by Bishop Delalle in 1944. Furnishing and altar linen was provided by members of the parish, and well-wishers in Ireland sent donations - including the brass door of the tabernacle. The altar of solid wood was designed and made by Mr Bob Burns in memory of his nephew, Donald Wood, who had been killed in action. Father Byrne, who was stationed in Pinetown around this time, said Mass in Kloof on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays, and responded to any urgent sick calls. There were forty Catholic families living in Kloof at this time with a strong community spirit.
After the war, the population of Kloof increased quickly and soon the building was too small. It was then that the hall was added which served as the church, with the basement being used for catechism classes and youth activities. This continued until 1973 when a new church building was erected and the parish of Our Lady of Mercy was established. The first resident priest was Father Dominic Boardman.
In 1991 Father Austin Collingwood was transferred to Kloof as parish priest and he undertook extensive alterations to the church, both inside and outside. Two stained glass windows were placed behind the altar and Hadmud Moffett was commissioned to design and make the rose window of the Madonna and the infant Jesus, making sanctuary appear lighter and more spacious. He also mounted the old bell, which was presented by the Gallwey family. After Father Collingwood’s death in October 2000, Father Michael Kelly served as parish priest until the Augustinian Friars took over the parish and outstations (Edwaleni and Emolweni) in 2002, with Father Edward Hattrick at the helm. The only structural change made at this time was the reconciliation room, built in the Japanese garden between the church and the presbytery, and a Garden of Remembrance.